Sunday, December 30, 2007

Willard Price: The Photographer

I mentioned, I'm sure, that there might be more from The National Geographic as I go through them... well, when I was first posting about Willard Price, months ago now, I included a section on Price as a photographer: it seemed to me from the photos illustrating his non-fiction travel books, that he was potentially a better-than-average amateur cameraman. In a National Geographic article from November 1944, 'Mindanao, on the Road to Tokyo' by Frederick Simpich, I came across some of Price's photos being used as illustrations. I think they bear out my original hunch that he had a real eye when it came to his photography.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Colouring In

Vintage Coca Cola

Occasionally, when you buy a lot of books, you have to take unopened boxes. In one such set of phenomenally heavy boxes recently I found piles of bound copies of The National Geographic from the 1920s-40s. The National Geographic is a bookseller's nightmare. No one will buy them. I haven't even been able to give them away. Any yet, there is something so, so wonderful about them, the fantastic vintage advertising, the photography, the whiff of adventure that accompanies the mustiness of the pages... it's a hard-hearted person indeed who can throw them away. Nonetheless, after I've finished going through them, that's what I will have to do.

I expect there will be much more from The National Geographic in the next little while.

PS. John C. I wondered exactly the same thing about the Capri cover, but nonetheless, how wonderfully like a 1970's gay porn star he looks! The Museum in York with the Victorian Streets re-created is the York Castle Museum. It is truely wonderful and one of the best museums I've ever been to (I went as a child and went again on this last visit). Papanine, I don't know if you will pop back to this blog at all but thank you for commenting on the old post about Willard Price. If you do see this then Ebay is a good place to find cheap readable copies of the Adventure books for your kids. There will be more Willard Price presently. Nicolas, I shall be emailing soon I promise.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More from between the pages

From the same haul of books as all the other items I've blogged here, this 6"x4" albumen print fell from between the pages of an otherwise unremarkable tome!

York of Suprises

Last weekend, my friend A and I took one of our occasional short breaks away together, this time to visit York. It was a truely wild and wet weekend and by the Sunday morning we were so fed up of being wet all the time that we decided all we could do was give in to the last big visitor attraction left to visit and hope it would take long enough to walk around that the rain might have stopped by the time we left.

I have to say that really, honestly, neither A nor I have the slightest interest in steam trains or railways in any way. Even as we were going through the shop and into the National Rail Museum itself we were saying to each other in muted voices that we weren't sure how long this was going to keep our attention. It was brilliant.

What we had failed to appreciate was that the hey-day of the railway was the nineteenth century and that any museum of rail has to be a Victorian museum by default. The display of ?Royal Trains, Victoria and Edwards trains both was simply sumptuous and to see the interior of those carriages was an object lesson in the changes between the Victorian and Edwardian age.

But the added suprise was the 'warehouse' room. Clearly the museum has vast amounts of signage, china, posters, ephemera, brass attactchments, gadgets and other bits of railway nonsense that it couldn't possibly display in a sensibly interpreted 'museum' layout. So, rather than store it all away in a warehouse where no one can see it, they store is all away in a warehouse where people can walk about. As we went into the huge, maze-like space I was already saying to A how it reminded me of The Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter novels and then blow me down if I don't see, hanging in a prominent position, a sign for platform 9 3/4.

Of course, on reflection it was clearly the sign for the 3-4 car stop on platform nine but the fact that it had been hung prominently, more prominently than other platform signs, made me sure that some curator had recognised what it looked like and placed it there with a certain knowingness.

If you dislike everything about trains, railways and steam engines... go to the National Rail Museum and York!

60s-70s Gay Paperbacks

From the photographically suggestive, through illustrative hack-work to the slightly surreal, these are a selection of cover designs for some gay-themed paperbacks I pulled off the shelves today.

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