Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things That Fall From Books #3: Hair

I was excited by the five volume set of Swinburne's poems, despite the fact that individually they would be rather unexciting in the extreme, because they are a complete set of all five volumes, all have complete and decent jackets, they have all therefore been preserved very nicely underneath the jackets and then, I opened one of them to discover this long lock of hair tied with a ribbon. I still can't make up my mind if this is crushingly romantic or just a bit icky.
The books are from The Golden Pine series by Heinemann and were publishd in 1917 and obviously they were designed to be presented without jackets so this set is, I think, a rare survival.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Andre Norton - Star Man's Son - Nicolas Mordvinoff

I have been toying with the idea of culling my hardback SF books (not the Gollancz yellowbacks obviously!), because I need the shelf space and, to my shame, it has been such a very long time since I was seriously reading science-fiction. In the process of looking through them I came across this copy of Star Man's Son, published by Gollancz in 1968. It's a post-atomic distopia and, I think, written for a younger audience.
It's not one I've read so I hadn't before noticed the enchanting illustrations by Nicolas Mordvinoff. This style of illustration: black, inky, scribbled and strong on sillhouette is one of my favourites and was very much in voague for children's books in particular in fron the 1950s until well into the 1970s. It's so much a 'style' I almost feel it should have a name. I don't know much about Mordvinoff except that on one internet forum it was reported that he liked Russian Roulette, and eventually lost.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New at Callum James Books

There have been two minor developments here. I haven't put the prices of my books up since I started this venture over five years ago. The prices of my books are not going to go up but where, in the past, it seemed a gesture to be able to say that books ordered from the website would incur only a £1 p+p charge, no matter where they were sent in the world, this is of course now ridiculous. I will slowly be changing the pricing on the website to reflect better the actual cost of posting items.

Second, the more eagle-eyed among you might have noticed, when I posted about the publication of The Romance of a Choir Boy by John Gambril Nicholson, that there was a device on the title page (also above). This is my new monogram for Callum James Books and it will start appearing on more of my newer publications. I have to thank John Coulthart for leading me to it following a post he made in May which lead me to a great book called Monograms and Ciphers (1906) by A. A. Turbayne. I found a couple of CJs there but this one I liked the best.

A Catalogue of the Private Library of a Student of Boyhood, Youth & Comradeship

This is published today.

A Catalogue of Books from the Private Library of a Student of Boyhood, Youth and Comradeship

by F. E. Murray.

This little booklet is one of the cornerstones of the bibliography of obscure gay and 'Uranian' texts. Published in 1924 by the bookseller and publisher Francis Edwin Murray it lists over 450 items of pederastic interest. The first section lists books of poetry by the group which have become known, since Timothy d'Arch Smith's book Love in Earnest, as the Uranian poets. Indeed, this booklet was a very significant source for d'Arch Smith in his researches for that book. But there is more: a second section covers 'Belle Lettres, Essays, Biographies etc.' and then the third, and longest section lists fiction. It is a sometimes eclectic list, sometimes it contains errors but Murray was well placed to be issuing this kind of catalogue as he was the main publisher to a significant number of the authors it lists. Whether this is the catalogue of an actual library or a 'picking list' for books Murray could provide is not clear.

The original of this text is now vanishingly scarce despite the fact that it should be one of the starting-places for any research or collection of this kind of literature.

This is a numbered edition of 50 copies sewn into patterned card covers.

The cost is £9.99 + £2 P&P.

This title can be purchased from Callum James Books.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vintage Found Type

One of my favourite blogs, although its content is, on the whole, more modern and design-oriented than here, which is probably why it doesn't get mentioned so much, is Ace Jet 170. A feature of this blog for years now has been Found Type Friday where people can send on photographs of typographical marvels they have 'found': perhaps in signage, on roads, on rubbish or packaging, the kind of thing you trip over in the street.
When I found this collection of 1950s matchbook covers at the bottom of a grimy box at a car boot sale, Ace Jet 170 was the first thing I thought of. They are in poor condition, fairly battered and grimy, but irresistible nonetheless and, in the end, I decided I want to post them here.

Skinny Dipping Photo

I bought this on Ebay the other day. At something of a snip I think. But what you are looking at here is the "healed by photoshop" version, the original has a rather heavy handed scratching out of the central figure's bottom which I have had to 'draw' back in, and was also dirty and scratched.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Book Fortress

This is an installation by a Slovakian artist called Matej Kren built as a part of the Bologna Children's Book Festival. It's effectively a fortress made from books. I urge you to go and look at the other photos at the installation's website where you can see it from all angles, get a sense of the sheer scale of the thing and also see some incredible lighting effects. What an amazing construction!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Der Kreis - Sam Steward and Saintly Sonnets

Here's a peculiar thing. This is a 16 page booklet stapled into paper covers with a photo similar to this one also on the inside back cover: Tarry A While and other stories. In fact, four other short stories, all fairly well written, all rather chaste and all with gay themes. The colophon on the back page answers some but not all the questions I have. These stories, it says, were first published in Der Kreis, or The Circle, a trilingual gay magazine which was also "the oldest homophile magazine in existence, now in its 30th year". That's as close as we get to a date but since Der Kreis appears to have had two starts under two different names this could be either 1962 or 1972 (I incline towards the latter - if only because of the cover price).

The best part of all though is a poem on the inside front cover. It is given as by 'Steward'. This, I must assume was Sam(uel Morris) Steward, also known as the writer of gay erotica Phil Andros, a remarkable character and well worth investigating further. He is known to have drawn art for Der Kreis. I think it's a great sonnet and there is a small pencil drawing reproduced above it signed PHIL. Could it be that both the image and the sonnet are by Steward? I can't say for sure: I've yet to find artwork by Steward signed PHIL, more normally he signed, I believe, as Thor.

Sonnet to the Making of a Saint

Sleep well, my lad. Be sure no terrors lie
Within this cup of night, save only those
Your bright inventive mind creates as foe;
Go virgin to your bed; with wary eye
Distrust my gesture, and suspect my sigh.
You see in all my honest words a pose,
My friendship but a mask for lust - who knows?
You may be more aware of truth than I.

Pull tight the cover to your virtuous cheek,
Lie straight and true, with thighs so closely pressed,
Look upward, to a heaven far from Greek,
And cross your hands across your untouched chest.
So let your marble rot and turn to dust,
And let the mourners worship if they must.

UPDATE: Thanks to one of my regular readers for pointing out this excellent review of Justin Spring's new book Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1940s Pattern

These are all scans from a wonderful book I found the other day called, Pattern and Design by N. I. Cannon (Lund Humphries & Co., London, 1948). The author is giving a fairly conservative account of pattern design and uses his students work throughout as examples. I just thought that they are now so wonderfully evocative in both pallette and style of the 1940s/50s.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Collection: A. E. Waite

There's something very satisfying about a collection that's complete, or approaching complete. I know that some people just don't get it but I'm already anticipating the little frisson of delight which will course through me when the last two of Willard Price's Adventure Series are slotted into place on the shelf. This chap in the photo is definitely someone who 'gets it'.

The books in front of him are his collection of tomes by Arthur Edward Waite, an early twentieth century writer and theorist on all things, occult, Rosicrucian and masonic. The photo is of Harold V. B. Voorhis who, alongside his book collecting interests rejoiced in the title Supreme Magi of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, 1950-1979. This picture is taken sometime before 1932 which is when the book, Arthur Edward Waite. A Checklist of His Writings was published and whence I have scanned it. The sixteen page booklet is stapled into red card covers and is given as 'privately printed' for the author in Red Bank, New Jersey in a regular edition of 150 copies. A rather sketchy count from the photo suggests that this is a collection of some 120 books and a single author collection of that size is an acheivement in any field, let alone when the field is, by nature, esoteric. It is clear from the preface that Voorhis knew Waite, who was still alive when this checklist was compiled, and so I suppose it's more than possible that more than one of those books is signed and inscribed.

Sometimes one might pick up a 'checklist', or 'handlist' as they are sometimes called, and forget that for all their slight dimensions, these ephemeral little publications usually represent years of work and dedication - a photo like this at the back is a salutory reminder of what's involved.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Romance of a Choir Boy by John Gambril Nicholson

Callum James Books is trying something new. We are going to continue producing our handmade limited editions but there are some titles which don't lend themselves well to this kind of publication. So, we are going to produce a series of titles in conventional paperback format, published by CJB but printed and distributed by Blurb.com.

The first title in this format is early 20th century rareity The Romance of a Choir Boy by John Gambril Nicholson:

"On a visit to his country home, Philip Luard, a young and idealistic Anglican curate working in London, a fan of cricket and church music, discovers that a local boy called Teddy Faircloth has a beautiful singing voice. Luard quickly develops a chaste but intensely romantic affection for Teddy and whisks him away to London where he supports the boy’s enrollment in a choir school. Teddy’s talents are nurtured in this new school and the young country boy suddenly finds himself with prospects which stretch far beyond the life of an agricultural labourer.

The Romance of a Choir Boy follows the progress of this relationship through all its highs and lows, through moments both touching and awkward. Nicholson also presents what Andrew May describes in his introduction as "an achingly nostalgic portrait of England" and rural life in particular, which is made all the more poignant by the fact that the author and his characters have no idea that this entire way of life is shortly to be swept away by the violence of war and the onward march of technology.

Originally printed privately in 1916, this book has been far too expensive and difficult to find for most collectors and it is hoped that this new edition, carefully edited and introduced, will provide an opportunity for many more people to read this entertaining and instructive novel. "

245pp., paperback

12.95 GBP

Please note that we will not be keeping any stock of this title here in Portsmouth and that the book can only be ordered through Blurb.com. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patterned Walls

All this talk of patterns on the blog recently and I'm going through a pile of 19th century albumen print photographs of India and come across this wonder. Please do click on it for the larger size. Some of the patterns are so clever and I'd love to see them reproduced on paper - something I might have to have a go at!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Marbled Paper

...and while we're on the subject of patterned papers...

Following the fun I had the other day making a miniature book, my rather over-active brain came up with a project (about which I'm sure there will be more on this blog in the future) for which I would need five different marbled papers to use on miniature books but they had to be reasonably different from each other, and have a small enough pattern that even on miniature boards one would get a 'sense' of pattern. It took a little searching but eventually I found this seller on Ebay and the above arrived today. For both quality and service I would have to recommend them. And I'm very chuffed with the papers.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Corvine Patterned Paper Revisited

This is one of those slightly spooky coincidental things that happen from time to time. The first thing that happened was that I pulled from a box of books, about a week ago, this copy of Advice by Hilaire Belloc (Harvill Press, London, 1960). Immediately I was put in mind of the patterned paper used on the cover of The Bull Against the Enemy of the Anglican Race, a fairly rare piece of Corvine polemic edited by A. J. A. Symons and published in 50 copies for the Corvine Society meeting of 1929. I blogged about this paper about a year ago and about how I also found it on a bound copy of Modern Russian Songs. As soon as I looked up my own blog entry however, I saw that, although very similar, the two were not the same. Also, the printing of the paper on the two books in that previous post was done, in both instances, from a woodblock. In the case of Advice, the cover hasn't been anywhere near a woodblock.

The first coincidence was that from the very same box of books I pulled a copy of Room and Book by Paul Nash (Scribners, New York, 1932) which, in its discussion of patterned papers in bookbinding includes a page on which two samples are tipped in. They are, of course, the paper from The Bull and the pattern used on Advice. This is great news because it also attributes the papers, the Corvine one to Althea Willoughby and the Belloc to Enid Marx, both of whom designed the pattern for the Curwen Press. I then notice that although published by an operation called The Harvill Press, the Belloc book was actually printed by yes, The Curwen Press.

Marx, it appears cut something of a dash through early 20th century design and worked at one stage for Penguin. She is best known perhaps for her design of the pattern for the heavy-duty upholstery of the seats on the London Underground. Willoughby is a slightly shadowy character to me still although I guess she must have been very well regarded in her time as she was one of the illustrators for Faber and Gwyer's Ariel poem pamphlets, in such company as Barnett Freedman, Eric Gill, Blair Hughs-Stanton, and of course, Paul Nash.

So then the list of coincidences continues and, having not spoken to anyone about any of this, the original blog post gets the following comment from the long-time Corvo collector Bobby T McFarland:

This paper has been reproduced as plate 8 in "Patterns for Papers," one of the Victoria and Albert Museum Colour Books (1987). In the introduction by Sarah Postgate she credits the artist Althea Willoughby as the creator, who worked for the Curwen Press in the 1920s and 1930s. No information is given about the artist. The footnote dates the paper 1929, the year of the publication of "The Bull."
This paper apparently was not reproduced in "A Specimen Book of Pattern Papers Designed for and in Use at the Curwen Press," published in 1928.
It is perhaps no coincidence that my proof copy of "The Quest for Corvo" published in 1934 is bound in this same patterned paper.

And then, today, just as I am contemplating putting together this post, I am browsing through the poetry shelves of a local bookshop and what should leap from the shelves and thrust itself into my hand but this book of poems by Sheilah H. Hirst, And only the Silence shall Sing... (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1937) with the Enid Marx paper covering its boards, this time printed in nice thick ink, straight from the woodblocks.
Well, you wait a year for information about a patterned paper and it all comes along at once...

Robert Gibbings Charming Engraving

How very charming and evocative is this woodcut illustration by Robert Gibbings for Fallodon Papers by Viscout Grey of Falloden (Constable, London, 1926)?

Illustrated Books

The idea seems to be around that illustrated books are expensive to collect. Of course, this has never been necessarily true, but I was reminded of that when I found these rather charming coloured wood engravings by John Hassell in a childrens' poetry anthology, All Day Long (Geoffrey Cumberlege: OUP, 1954). The book can be picked up in very good condition for just a couple of pounds.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bloomsbury Book

This is the brilliant cover of the 1930 reprint of this Hogarth Press title on the works of Duncan Grant. Given that it was published by the Woolf's, had an introduction by Roger Fry, was about Duncan Grant and that the cover design is by Vanessa Bell - it's not clear to me that any other book could be much more 'Bloomsbury' than this!

I've decided to put my copy up for sale on Ebay where you can see more photos....

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Following my visit to the Wolfgang Tilmanns exhibition the other day I met up with a friend and strolled through the galleries of the British Museum. This is a photo I was rather pleased with, a close up of a somewhat corroded horse's head from what the BM calls the Parthenon Sculptures but everyone else in the world calls the Elgin Marbles.

The BM is a wonder - partiularly since the creation of the Great Court which has to be one of the most incredible spaces in London if not in Europe. Everytime I go I vow to go back soon - this time I must keep my promise to myself.

Serpentine Tillmans

On a glorious day at the end of last week I was in London to view the major exhibition of one of my favourite photographers, Wolfgang Tillmans, currently at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park. Tillmans now lives in the UK and so it's surprising perhaps that this is the first major exhibition of his work in London for seven years. The exhibition is a retrospective and is curated by the photographer himself.

I'm not sure I can provide a deeply informed review but if you're interested enough you could read some at The Independent, The Guardian, and the less than complimentary review at The Arts Desk. I will make a couple of observations: I thought it was interesting that the exhibition seemed to be curated to be viewed with a clockwise walk around the gallery and yet, when I was there, almost everyone walked anti-clockwise! Also, much is made of Tillmans presenting work in various ways including hung from bulldog clips, taped to the walls as well as traditionally framed. I have to say, that whole aspect seemed rather old hat to me, in fact, so much so that it wasn't really something that I noticed much as I walked around. However, as ever, the photos themselves, both photo-journalistic and abstract are compelling and bear a long time looking at their depth and detail.

The above is just a selection of my favourite Tillmans' photos from the postcard stand (not all displayed in the exhibition itself).

The Pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery with the free table tennis tables of PingLondon in the foreground.

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