Sunday, August 23, 2015

1960s Amatory Unorthodoxy

One of the things that is invaluable to a bookdealer who has a specialism, is the ephemera of those who have gone before along the same paths: book catalogues, prospectuses, articles and so on...  So I was delighted to get hold of this folded catalogue from the early 1960s from a mail order firm in Paris. "L. Henry" is offering what were, at the time, new books and other items. There is some mention of gay books here but on the whole it has a solidly heterosexual bias, nonetheless it makes for a fascinating read. I like, in particular, the distinction between Romans Vivant and Romans Tres Oses. It's interesting to note that Roger Peyrefitte's Les Amitiés Particulières is there in the daring section along with Les Mauvais Anges by Eric Jourdan, both sharing some fairly unlikely company on that part of the list.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vintage Swimwear

We haven't had a vintage swimwear post forever, well for a few days at least. So here are a few of the new arrivals to the collection here at Callum James Heights. I have decided to assume that the chap above is sporting a nice tight pair of speedos... he seems the type! All these photos now safely reside in my collection save for the bottom two which come to you courtesy of one of your fellow readers of Front Free Endpaper who tells me the most delightful story about the guys in the photo of which I will tell you only that they are brothers, that this is the south of France and that it is the early 1950s! 

All contributions of selfies or others in vintage swimwear are gratefully received of course...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Richard Kennedy illustrates Crispin

Meet Crispin, the star of this 1975 book by William Herschell who is perhaps better known for his previous childrens' book King Lizard. Crispin in 13 and has grown up happily on a farm until now when he is told that he is not the natural son of the farmer and his wife and his 'real' mother is claiming him back.  

Regular readers will know that I am somewhat enamored by this style of illustration so prevalent in childrens' books of the 60s-80s and, despite all my pleading, no-one has been able to come up with an apposite and pithy name for the style. These are by Richard Kennedy, a prolific illustrator of (mainly) childrens' books whose career began at the age of 16 in the print room of the Hogarth Press with Leonard and Virginia Woolf, an experience which he later wrote about and illustrated in his book A Boy At The Hogarth Press. After the war he began to make his career in illustration and his output included over 40 books for 'backward' readers published by Benn as well as nearly 20 titles by Eilis Dillon. Other authors illustrated include Eleanor Farjeon, Moncia Edwards and Elizabeth Gouge

What is noticeable about the images in this book are how well he had observed the many odd and difficult bodily positions that a 13 year old can get into, many of which positions most adults have completely forgotten about, let alone the emotions they attend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid 1960s DIY Toys

These amazingly colourful plates come from a brilliant book that tells you how to make toys and models out of paper, card and wire. Of course, it's the painting of these that makes them quite so spectacular. If you think I haven't tried one, you're mad: there's a slightly more restrained looking fish than the ones below sitting on my mantle right now!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Albert writes to Paul in 1912

I had to have this!

Reading gay relationships into the past is always a perilous business but so long as one does it with a level of respect and a light touch that doesn't impose modern categories on people who wouldn't have understood them, I have no problem with it. And certainly there is more than a whiff of same-sex romance about this postcard from 1912.

For a start, it was clearly intended as a card to be sent by a boy to his gal, and our Albert here has crossed out "Louise" and inserted the name of his 'beau' (maybe) Paul. Presumably the quote is a reference to the song lyrics from 1902, pasted below, which could only be said to be intended as romantic. 

It seems that our Albert moved away from his native La Grange, Indiana to teach in Turtle Lake. There are a number of possible candidates for Turtle Lake but the most likely would appear to be the small village in Wisconsin by that name.

Albert isn't impressed with the place: "I am going to a dance tomorrow night because I am so lonesome. This is the end of God's Country, he don't live up here, he would drown in whiskey."

(Charles K. Harris,   1902)

I wonder where you are tonight, my love, 
As all alone I sit and dream. 
I wonder if your heart's with me tonight, 
And if the same stars for you gleam. 
I sometimes fear there is another love, 
Some fairer face has won your heart; 
But Ah, I hope the day will never come, 
The day that we two must live apart.

The bees are droning in the wild wood, love, 
The flowers their tiny heads bow low. 
The birds are singing soft and plaintively,
They miss your dear kind face I know. 
From o'er the meadow comes a faint perfume, 
It whispers gently, "Love you're true;"
But Oh, my darling, if you only knew, 
I'm wearing my heart away for you.

I'm wearing my heart away for you, 
It cries aloud, "My love be true," 
I dream of you by night, I long for you by day, 
I'm wearing my heart away for you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mercury in 1920s Germany

Regular readers will know that we are discovering that Mercury alias Hermes was something of a big cheese in the design pantheon of the 1920s and 30s. This postcard cost me more online that I would normally like to pay, but everytime I thought I had decided not to buy it I kept found myself going back to it again. Suffice to say, it's mine now!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Anatomy of a Vintage Photograph

So I picked up this photo at lunchtime today from a junk shop for just 70 pence. And the reason I was drawn to it, apart from the fact that I simply love photos of old interiors, is that at first glance it seemed to show really clearly how cabinet photos were used in display.

But one of the wonders of the digital age is the ability to scan things at high resolution and see into the details of the photo. With the naked eye I noticed that there was a photo on the wall behind the photographer reflected in the mirror. On closer inspection it becomes clear that this is a sporting team and, because I've seen a lot of them, I can tell you it's the kind of sporting team photo that you got from rather posh schools with hand-written calligraphy and heraldry on the mount.

This then, suddenly makes sense of the fact that the cabinet photos along the mantle are clearly not a family, they are all young men of about the same age, some of them wearing what can only be an academic mortar boards and many of them, once you are able to look closely, are signed. I had hoped to date the photo from the ceramics because the jug on the mantle is Royal Doulton Dutch Harlem which was produced in the 1880s and certainly there isn't much in the room that doesn't look like it could have been from that period, but then the scan revealed the writing on the trophy cup. Although most of the writing is unclear I am sure it is dated 1914. I also wondered if another of the words on the cup might be Harrow so, returning to the photo in the mirror, and remembering that it is reversed, it's clear that the crest is indeed for Harrow school. It was then I remembered that I have before come across the tradition of the men in a big public school house signing their photos and, though I can't rule out it happens elsewhere, that was at Harrow too.

So, what do we have? My best guess is a housemaster's study where the house trophies are kept. Who is DM? I don't know, presumably the initials of a house master at the school but that's where my research is going to close.

...still, not a bad bit of entertainment for 75p!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Agnes Miller Parker Illustrates A Shropshire Lad

I have long thought that A. E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad is a work of genius, flawed genius perhaps, but genius nonetheless. I also am something of a fanboy for the engravings of Agnes Miller Parker so it's surprising really that these images she created to illustrate the poems haven't appeared here before. The icing on the cake of course, for me, with my devotion to all things mercurial is the gorgeous image above to accompany one of the best poems in the sequence, "The Merry Guide" about being led through the English countryside by the beautiful, smiling but voiceless Mercury.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Short List #19

This weekend I sent out Short List No.19. These are lists of anywhere from 25-40ish items that are new to my stock. Many of the items you see here on Front Free Endpaper end up on the Short Lists. They only go to members of my mailing list. It is not an onerous mailing list who also get first look at all my longer catalogues before they are published on my website, and they get information about new publications too. So, I hear you ask 'why am I not already on this list?! What can I do to remedy the situation?" The answer is simple of course, you need only drop me a line at the email address to the top right of the this page and let me know you want in on the list. 

The 'stuff' on these lists is heavily tailored to the tastes and interests of the people who receive it so it is often the case that the contents sell pretty quickly. New people asking to be on the list get links to all previous short lists to browse at their leisure and, who knows, they may find an unsold item that takes their fancy. 

My longer catalogues all appear at the website:

An Eastern European Vintage Body!

Well if I had a body like that I think I would be wanting to show it off a little too! This handsome chap was waiting for me on the mat when I got in this evening. I know this blog has readers from Eastern Europe, I wonder if anyone can help with the writing on the back?

Who links to my website?