Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rowland Emmett illustrates a Guinness Christmas Book for Doctors

Throughout the 20th century Guinness was keen to put across the idea that drinking Guinness was a healthful thing to do: remember "Guinness is good for you". As a part of that there was a concerted effort to build relationships with the medical profession and for a while in the 1930s and then again in the 1950s and 60s Guinness's advertising agency sent out fun, illustrated booklets to Doctors as Christmas greetings. They usually contained humorous verse, often parodies, which sometimes very cleverly introduced Guinness into well known poems and lyrics. Of a small group of these which I acquired recently, this one, illustrated by Rowland Emmett is by far the wackiest and most eye-catching. Others include parodies on such things as Alice in Wonderland and Gilbert and Sullivan.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Paperback and Pulp Fair

This seems like the kind of thing that readers of this blog might appreciate if you happen to be in London at that time so I thought I would give it a bit of a plug here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Larks!

There is at least a vague pretense that the top two images here from Herbert Strang's Golden Story Book for Boys, relate to vintage swimwear: or lack of it as the hapless Johnnie Luckin, lucks-out when he goes skinny dipping and has to creep back to school. Such Japes! As to the third picture illustrating a different story, well it's anybody's guess what's going on there really.

Nude Study - Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov

I have been on holiday! Hooray! But back now! As I found myself telling someone that I am not one of those people who comes back from holidays all depressed but rather that I come back with a little extra vim and vigour, I thought I would offer a little blog post today in the hope of more to come. Not wishing to either bore you or incriminate myself by sharing holiday photos of Ibiza, I thought instead: a little piece of art. This is a charcoal drawing by a Russian master Valentin Serov (1865-1911), it manages to be both charming and a little disturbing at the same time. And if you needed any proof that the Russian art market is currently doing very nicely, it sold recently at auction in New York for 3,500 USD.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

More Dust Jackets mainly by Hans Tisdall

These images are of lots from the same auction as I blogged about a few days ago. A vast collection of jackets only for some fabulous books. I found them because I have been looking into the work of Hans Tisdall, an artists, muralist and illustrator from the middle of last century and a lot of these are his work. He was born in Munich in 1910 to an artist father and an Irish mother, "I drank with my mother's milk the commotion of artists and racketeering". In the late 1920s he was in Paris coming under the influence of Picasso and the Russian sculptor Moisey Keegan. By 1930 he was in London and after three days at an advertising agency decided he was going to be an artist. His studio was next door to Duncan Grant's in Bloomsbury and though he liked the man, Tisdall wasn't much influenced by the Bloomsbury Group. In the thirties he became well known as a designer of fabrics and his work as a muralist was beginning to take off. His association with Jonathan Cape through the 40s-60s was a long and productive one and I have no idea how many jackets he must have been responsible for, not all of them signed but all quite distinctive if only for the very individual text forms he developed. There were other publisher's too but Cape produced by far the largest number of his designs. He died in 1997.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Vintage Press Photo: Haunted Cherubs

I love vintage press photographs! They are often a little window into some amazing or tragic or amusing human story that has long been forgotten about. They always beg the question of what happened next and often the captions from the news agency as tantalizingly brief or oblique.

This one came from the 'bottom of a box' the other day and has an almost horror-film, haunted look to it and it represents a desperately poignant story. The two children are caught up in a "Hollywood" murder case. Their father, George Cline, at the time of taking the photo was accused of killing his friend, a stuntman called "Handsome Jack" in a duel over a woman. The story is told in detail at The Malefactor's Register. This photo was taken of the accused's children just after they had 'pleaded with the prosecutor' to get the trial done quickly so that daddy could come home.

Even by today's standards this seems a fairly cynical and exploitative photograph. It is easy to imagine that with the acquittal of their father (which is what happened) this story had a happy ending. But the fact remained that there was a broken home, a man who had probably killed his friend, and a huge load of publicity and public interest in some intensely private things about the family's life. What effects this might have had on the lives of these two frail and cherubic children from 1922 is anyone's guess.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gollancz Yellow Jackets - And Only the Jackets

Hauls of dustjackets sans books are occasionally found. Sometimes they are a bit of a treasure trove because obviously, it's possible that the value of a book with a jacket can be ten or more times that of one without. Sometimes they can be in spectacular condition as often they are from publishers or designer/illustrators' archives. Oftentimes they are actually a pain, because unless there is a standout title, finding the right edition to go in the right jacket can be annoyingly difficult and one begins to feel obligated.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything to do with Gollancz yellow-jacketed SF, which used to be something of an obsession, but in my trawl through auction archives last night I found these few lots which I couldn't just ignore. I think I am grateful I didn't know about them at the time!

Christopher Wood (1901-1930)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, @callumjbooks, will know that I was recently at the exhibition of Christopher Wood's work at The Pallant Gallery in Chichester. As ever with The Pallant I was completely blown away by the standard of curation and by their ability to tell an interesting story.

Christopher Wood is an important but perhaps underrated figure in British art and his very early death, his ambiguous sexuality, his huge ambition, and his position within several very important groups of British artists during his short life make him overdue for a large scale exhibition.

None of these pictures on this post are from the exhibition (though anyone who has visited will, I think, see where they fit in his development), instead I got rather lost last night in an internet rabbit-hole and all these, with no real attempt at curation, come from past auction sales.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hans Tisdall - Some Jackets

The work of Hans Tisdall (1910-1977) has appeared on this blog before.  He had a long relationship with Jonathan Cape in particular when it came to designing jackets. It doesn't take much to see the connection between this style and the 'look' of The Festival of Britain in 1951, for which Tisdall was one of the designers. Two typefaces, Tisdall Script and Blesk were modelled on his style in the twenty-first century and with the continued interest in mid-twentieth century design his work on both books and textiles are becoming better known and more appreciated.

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