Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grubby Little Campers

I was intrigued enough to buy these simply because they seem such a motley crew.. and grubby! Not scouts and don't appear to be military either. No information came with the photos but they still need a damn good wash whoever they are!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

J. S. Wixom Drawings

J. S. Wixom is not a name that trips off the tongue from among the pantheon of twentieth century gay artists. As far as I can tell the scarce book Drawings and Paintings of J. S. Wixom is the only publication of this Utah based artist. The drawings here are all from the book and were done between 1969 and 1972 when the book was published. In fact, the lack of publishing imprint suggests maybe a self-published book, which might be why it is scarce today. Apologies for the quality of the images but the book is too large to place on my flatbed scanner, but I hope they give a fair impression of the work.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Together Forever

Dated December 1942 on the back and taken on the same day at the same photographer's studio in the UK, an American serviceman and his sweetheart presumably. Still together 73 years later tucked together on the shelf of a junk shop from whence I rescued them today.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Three things I love about this Vintage Swimwear Postcard

Three things I love about this postcard:
1) The towels make them look like Roman statues
2) The utter disregard for Health and Safety
3) The way that "Love from Aunt Lily" makes it all so very camp!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Thackeray and Kinglsey Hotels in Bloomsbury

Visitors to the British Museum might recognise the lower facade in the above picture as, The Thackeray Hotel, now no longer a hotel, is still more or less intact and faces the main pillared entrance to the Museum. The other hotel above, The Kingsley Hotel, which was supposedly in the road behind the Thackeray, I have been unable to locate on Google Streetview: doesn't mean it's not there just that I can't find it.

The two hotels, presumably managed by the same company issued a little booklet in the 1920s about things "Old and New" to see in London and included in the booklet were numerous illustrations of the interior of the hotels. One imagines any number of literary detectives sweeping across the Afghan rugs and leaning on the mahogany mantles. Delicious!


Monday, July 20, 2015

David by Giacomo Manzu

Browsing some art books today I was rather struck by this sculpture of David by Giacomo Manzu, c.1939, and by the more usually helpful write up in the book:

"The biblical figure of David has been a continuing source of inspiration in the work of Manzu. Several versions exist of this subject whose main characteristic is a crouching figure ready to let fly with a sling. From the first realization of 1935 to the later ones of 1938-39, there is a clear break in the choice of subject; David is no longer a virile nude with head and chest erect, as in the first version, but a thin child whose curved back echoes the rounded form of the stone on which he is crouching. In choosing a young boy as David, Manzu expressed his poetic vision of a child struggling against violence."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Short Catalogue from Callum James Books

This is something I tried eighteen months ago and was pleasantly surprised by the response so once again: a catalogue (a short one) of unique books and other items. We are talking handwritten manuscripts, collections of photographs and postcards, notebooks, clippings books... all sorts of 'stuff' and, I hope, the kind of things that our type of person really has a feeling for.

So if you are in the UK, this is a little summer treat, if you are one my Australian customers, think of it as a winter warmer!

Prices range from £15 to £600 so I hope there's something for everyone in both subject matter and price. The catalogue is in pdf format only here:

NB: if you have a btinternet account and are on my mailing list, you may be wondering why you haven't already got an email about this. It's because btinternet routinely 'delay' and then often don't deliver emails coming from the company who provide my email services. There are only two things you can do about this. You can talk to btinternet and ask them about it (they won't talk to me because I'm not one of their customers!) or if you would like to provide an alternate email I can change your entry on my list.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Philip Core Paints Roger Rees as Hamlet

I am a huge fan of The West Wing (and in my mind every time I say that, the word 'huge' sounds just like President Bartlett says it when throwing a strop "he was a yooge contributor... a yooge contributor" - yes, I'm that kind of fan!), and it was through his comic turn as the British Ambassador Lord John Marbury in The West Wing that I knew and appreciated Roger Rees whose obituaries you will have been reading in the last few days. He was, of course, much more than a 'comic turn' and I would urge you to read some of those obituaries and get a sense of a quite remarkable actor who perhaps never quite found the acclaim he deserved. 

My other interest in Rees came much more recently. You might have picked up from the blog here that I am doing some biographical research into an artist called Philip Core and there are at least two pieces of art by Core in which Rees features. In 1984 Rees was the lead in the RSC's Hamlet and Core was commissioned to paint the poster. At this stage in my research I haven't seen the poster but I am assuming it might be the same image as used on the front of the program (above), that I bought recently. There is another image though, less likely to have been part of the official commission (below) titled "Around Hamlet: Roger Rees" in which a naked Rees, holding the iconic skull, is painted repeatedly from various angles. It is reproduced in the Gay Mens' Press edition of Core's paintings and is there dated 1984 and is clearly not an insubstantial work at nearly two metres across. I know that Core sometimes painted portraits from photographs and sometimes from life, but this has the air of an image painted from life and I had, at the beginning of the year, been very much looking forward to contacting Rees's agent to ask if he could tell me anything about the painting. Sadly, of course, that opportunity has passed with Roger Rees, by all accounts a vibrant and passionate man with a skill on the stage second to none.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Mr Mercury Returns

Last month I blogged about the number of appearances made by Mercury as a design image within some 1930s magazines I have, and a number of those appearances were of "Mr Mercury" in the National Benzole Mixture adverts. Regular correspondent to Front Free Endpaper, Nick, was immediately at the keyboard to send this delightful addition above and the following explanation:

Being the proud owner of two pre-war Austin cars I liked your recent piece on Mr Mercury. National Benzole really hit the mark with him mainly, as one commentator of the time put it, because he was so "startlingly naked". It was a stroke of advertising genius and the company soon had top graphic illustrators such as Tom Purvis on its books.

But Mr Mercury came about in a curious way. In 1927 National Benzole was experimenting with various puns on the word 'Spirit' - which is what benzole is, basically - and they came up with the slogan "The Spirit with the Devil in it". The advertisement showed a speeding car being urged on by a harmless little demon resembling an elf crossed with a butterfly. It caused a furore, and several mainstream Churches successfully demanded its withdrawal. But National Benzole were not to be beaten and, almost in retaliation it would seem, launched the gloriously naked and unashamed Mr Mercury on an unsuspecting public in 1928. Interestingly there do not seem to have been any complaints this time, certainly not from the Churches!

Although Mr Mercury spent much of his 30-year career either showing off his physique solo, or giving delighted lady motorists a 'start', he had at least one possible dalliance in 1937/38 with an elderly gentleman who has more than a slight twinkle in his eye at the sight of the beautifully lithe young god pressing all the right buttons for him. I attach a copy of that advert from my collection. Despite research I haven't succeeded in discovering the identity of the model for Mr Mercury - possibly he was just drawn as a combination of parts making up the perfect man. And how!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

WW1 Auxiliary Hospital: Englethwaite Hall Cumbria

This is Englethwaite Hall in Cumbria. It was built in 1879 by John Thomlinson, a plaster-of-paris 'magnate'. The house passed through several owners before it was taken over by the Red Cross and opened on July 15th, 1916 as a fully equipped Auxiliary Hospital with 50 beds. It remained open, under the charge of Miss Ida C Kentish, until April 30th, 1919 having treated 593 patients. Whilst I would never consider myself as having an interest in 'military history' I do have an interest in the personal stories of individuals in the First World War. Auxiliary Hospitals have featured in a number of novels about WW1 and, indeed, in ITV's Downton Abbey and it fascinating to finally get a glimpse inside one as it 'really' was from this photo album. I have to say that it looks more or less as I conjured these things in my mind's eye, although I wasn't really prepared for the chintz wallpaper and floral bedcovers! The house went to ruin and was finally pulled down in 1969 and is now the site of a caravan park. This album contains these, obviously professional, documentary photos at the front and the res of the album is filled with candid and personal shots of the soldiers/patients (not shown in this post) in groups or individually, sadly none of them identified.

The Best School Prize Bookplate Ever?

Prompted by the post last week about crossdressing boys in the theatre, an Australian friend sent me this scan of an bookplate in his collection. He is quite adamant that the prize should be reinstated although it seems most likely that Mr Cadell won't be around anymore to give lessons in the art of it. One wonders if there is somewhere a prize book for the Best Senior Female Impersonator as well!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Theras. The Story of an Athenian Boy

This delightful little book was published in the UK in 1925 by J. M. Dent in a little 12mo. series of books called the Kings Treasuries of Literature under the general editorship of Sir A. T. Quiller Couch. This one is about an Athenian boy who loses his father in a way (or does he) and is taken to Sparta and then travels around a bit. That's about the size of the narrative but it's really just an excuse to introduce a bit of classical history about how they lived in Athens and Sparta to a young reader. Although there is an illustration opposite the title page, not scanned here, that is initialed just "G" I can find no other indication of who the illustrator might have been. 

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