Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Vintage Photos

So those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that yesterday R and I were sampling the vintage wares of Brighton. Just to prove that it isn't ALL vintage swimwear, and to add a little chocolate to this Easter Day, here are a selection of the photos that took my eye in the junk shops of The Lanes. Happy Easter.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Early Puffin Books Artwork

Time to say goodbye to the Puffins. Three years ago I acquired a collection of first edition Puffin paperback books dating from the 1940s to the 1960s and I have loved going through them, enjoying the amazing artwork on their covers but the time has come to make some space in the study. So, as I was listing them as a job lot today I put aside just a few of the covers that jumped out at me for this valedictory post. So, for the last time in a while I would imagine, here's a selection of the brilliant artwork from mid twentieth century Puffin paperbacks.

Cupid by Laurent Marqueste

A dear friend gave me the postcard above recently as a little addition to my collection. The Cupid is by Laurent Marqueste (1848-1920) and according to the card it resides at the Museum of Luxembourg. Other versions appear on the Internet including one cast in bronze so I haven't been able to say for sure if the version on the vintage postcard is the same one as photographed below in the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, if it is then he has lost his bow over the years. The photos below were Internet finds. I think the detail I like most is that, from the position of Cupid's left hand you can tell that he has just loosed an arrow!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Showing Off

Regular readers will recognise this chap I am sure, he featured on this blog last year in August when he first arrived here at Callum James Heights and became part of 'The Collection'. At the time I asked, on the blog, if anyone could help with the writing on the verso.

It may have taken a little while but as ever the readers of Front Free Endpaper have come up with the goods. Anonymous placed a comment on the original post to tell me that it says "Here I have sent my picture. In it, I am 18 years old" in Hungarian. Brilliant.

I love the fact that is both illuminating and begs so many more questions at the same time. Thank you so much to Anonymous, these little snippets are much appreciated.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Walt Whitman Meets A British Public School

On the face of it, I wasn't sure there was much promise in the title In Praise of Winchester: An Anthology in Prose and Verse (Constable, London: 1912) but flicking through there are some rather choice moments. It is almost entirely about Winchester College, one of the oldest public schools in Britain. Students and alumni are known as Whykehamists and many, if not all of these poems and snippets of prose are by this distinguished band. The College has produced some notable poets in the past including Lionel Johnson and Robert Nichols to name just two. But the poem which caught my eye was not be one to famous, but a published poet nonetheless: John Crommelin-Brown. He was educated at Winchester College, fought in the First World War and wrote war poetry, he went on to be a master at Repton and a county cricketer. The book of poems from which this comes was published in 1908 and was a collection of specifically Whykehamist poems and parodies. It struck me as a bit of fun and, without knowing the author we will probably never know how 'knowingly' these images were written.

Walt Whitman Watches Fifteens

What do you see, Walt Whitman?
I see a mass of arms clad in brown and white and blue and white jerseys,
Of legs clad in cut-shorts that once were white,
Arms that struggle, and legs that kick convulsively, that is what I see;
And I see hands that grasp the empty air,
Or if not the air then their next-door neighbour,
Or if not their neighbour then the netting which pens the players in ;
And there are two watchers with note-books and pencils,
Note-books to write in, and pencils to rap the grasping hands,
(There is mud on the hands, and their knuckles are white with the tension of grasping),
The play of the muscles, the curve of the back stooping to push,
Faces glistening with sweat, sinews in the neck taut with the effort of extrication, that is what I see.
I see a ring of eager faces ; 
Mouths that open, and anxious eyes.
And ever the grey tower above showing through the trees,
(The trees stripped of their foliage, and the tower shows through their tracery),
Slender, silent tower.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Algernon Blackwood: A Bibliographical Note

This kind of thing is a collector's dream. I found this copy of Algernon Blackwood's Dudley & Gilderoy in a 'bargain bin' in a London bookshop. The outside is in such bad condition it should be ashamed of itself and normally, even with Blackwood's name on it I would have put it back and moved on. However, a quick flick through and suddenly it comes alive with obscure bibliographical interest. A number of pages towards the front, including the title and colophon etc have been scribbled over in pencil: there are measurements for margins, crossings out and new wording. The book itself is the 1929 British first edition published by Ernest Benn. This copy appears to contain someone's notes for resetting the text to republish it with US publisher Peter Nevill. There was, in fact, an American edition of this book in 1929 but it was published by E. P. Dutton. In fact, Peter Nevill didn't start publishing until the 1940s and went through into the 1960s. Nevill did publish work by Blackwood, Tales of the Uncanny & Supernatural (1949) and the more autobiographical work, Episodes Before Thirty (1950) but to the best of my ability to discover he didn't publish this title.

So what do we have? My best guess is that this was a mark up for resetting the type for a Nevill edition that, for whatever reason, fell by the wayside. Perhaps because the last Dutton edition had only been in 1941, but at the moment I can't hope to know.

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