Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Santa, Savings, and Fractal geometry

Identifier: 2014074 TRUSTEE SAVINGS

The Droste effect — known as mise en abyme in art — is the effect of a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 was maintained for decades with slight variations. The logo of cheese spread brand The Laughing Cow also features the Droste effect. The effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter.

The appearance is recursive: the smaller version contains an even smaller version of the picture, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry. [Adapted from Wikipedia]

Well the artist responsible for this example didn’t try too hard; after a reasonably recongnisable image within the main picture, the next one is basically a blob.

You can’t escape from Santa, even at NeverSeen Books.

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Trustee Savings Bank Christmas Annual 1949. 32 pages including paper cover. Size: 128 x 196 mm.

This little booklet was one of several published in the early post-war years by the Trustee Savings Bank. It’s full of homilies, puzzles, a children’s page, recipes, and other heart-warming stuff typical of the magazines and advertising material of the period.

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It’s Party Time, and Prince Charles beams out of his pram at his mother, who’s not yet Queen. Meanwhile, there’s a typical English Christmas Tea in progress – though the grandmother in her shawl looks American to me – with the gents all wearing ties, of course. A chocolate Yule Log supplements the bulging Christmas cake, and impossibly real candles light the tree.

The Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) was a British financial institution. Trustee savings banks originated to accept savings deposits from those with moderate means. Their shares were not traded on the stock market but, unlike with mutually held building societies, depositors had no voting rights; nor did they have the power to direct the financial and managerial goals of the organisation. Directors were appointed as trustees (hence the name) on a voluntary basis. [Wikipedia] The complex history and merger with Lloyds is here.

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Condition: Good – some creasing, mostly around the spine area.

Price: £6.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Louis Wain, genre photographs, but no fairies

identifier 2014096 INFANTS’ MAGAZINE

The Infants’ Magazine Annual for 1904, being a collection of the 12 monthly issues for 1903. Vol. XXXVIII Publisher S.W. Partridge & Co., London. Hardback, colour cover. Size: 177 x 223 mm. 190+ pages, with illustrations on every page, several in colour (black/blue/red).

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Prominent in this annual is the work of Louis Wain, famous cat artist. He contributes the main title page and numerous sketches throughout. More unusually, a photograph of the artist also appears.

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I was also struck by the fact that almost all of the photographs of child studies in this book are credited to Miss K. Grant. It must have been unusual at that time for a woman to have had the facilities, presumably some kind of studio, to produce genre pictures like this. The simple portraits remind me of some of the sentimental child studies by photographer and magic lantern slide publisher Owen Graystone Bird, from the same era.

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The narrative scenes (see below), some with painted backdrops, are reminiscent of the Life Model magic lantern slides popular at that time, though cropped much tighter.

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The subjects of the painted backdrops, representing a poor person’s kitchen, for instance, are different from those in a typical Victorian / Edwardian portrait studio. I wonder whether anyone has researched Miss Grant? Without a complete first name, or location, that would be difficult.

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With the adoption of halftone photographic images in periodicals becoming much more widespread about this time, these photographs are evidently a challenge to the more traditional artworks of the same subjects. This can be clearly seen here with the similarities between Grandma’s Valentine (photo) and the following page Granny’s Recovery (painting); and Spring Flowers (drawing), and the opposite page A Secret (photo).

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Another point of interest is the lack of fairies (gnomes, elves, whatever). With the exception of The Fairies’ Postmen, I can’t find any.

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The book is stuffed with pictures (photos, drawings) and stories of dolls on what seems like every other page, but the fairies that would soon become so ubiquitous in children’s books haven’t yet arrived – here, anyway. Perhaps this was due to the shadow of publisher Samuel William Partridge (1810-1903) – by then retired, and who died the year these magazines were printed – who was a devout evangelical Christian and probably couldn’t be doing with fairies. Maybe it would take the imminent appearance of Tinkerbell to ensure frequent appearances of the fairy folk in periodicals and annuals.

The Infants’ Magazine is not a very scarce title, but finding particular issues – especially in good condition – can be difficult. Apparently people used to give these books to young children to play with. (Note: The BL has it as The Infant’s Magazine.)

Condition: Generally good, as shown. Pages tanned, as expected. The binding is very loose, but still holding everything together.

Price: £32.00 plus postage. Enquiries: s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Death of Cromwell – hand painted magic lantern slide

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identifier: 2014095 DEATH OF CROMWELL [SOLD]

Death of Cromwell. Magic lantern slide. Hand-painted, anonymous artist. Title hand-written on paper label on bottom edge of binding.

This scene of Oliver Cromwell’s death – from urinary tract problems, apparently – is from an unknown series. Buried in Westminster Abbey, when Royalists returned to power he was dug up, his remains hung in chains, and beheaded. Just to make sure.

Thousands upon thousands of so-called “hand painted” lantern slides are sold on ebay each year. Some are indeed fully hand-painted, and these fall mostly into three categories: 1) early caricatures, stories etc painted on “long slides”. 2) simple cartoonish slides showing a visual joke, often with mechanical movement (e.g. “slipper” slides). 3) very fine hand-painted scenes produced by Carpenter and Westley and a few similar companies. Most of these types are mounted in wood frames.

Other slides described as ”hand-painted” are mostly either cheap chromolithographic slides (i.e. “transfers”), or slides of drawings produced by printed or photographic outlines in black, which are then coloured in by hand.

Here’s an unusual exception: a standard 3.25 x 3.25-inch slide, not framed in wood, that’s fully hand painted. An exquisite little miniature on glass, from c.1890. The paints used would have been a type of coloured varnish. Painting on glass to this standard is a lost art.

Very good condition.

Price: SOLD

ART DECO magic lantern CINEMA SLIDES

A giant (so it seems) grasshopper (cricket?) waits in the grass, a crisp essay in vivid greens.

A society couple stand whispering beneath the trees in the moonlight, while somewhere nearby, perhaps, the band plays on.

A man in a dapper suit sits with his coffee and reflects. A single thin line of smoke curls from his cigarette. Is this Rick, long after the customers have gone home, thinking of Ilsa and the sacrifice he must make tomorrow?

What are the origins of these images? Just another day’s work for some anonymous artist trying to (literally) scrape a living?

ART DECO MAGIC LANTERN CINEMA SLIDES

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Three lantern slides in Art Deco style. Size: approx 3.25 x 4 inches. I have given these the titles:

1. Grasshopper (hand coloured).

2. A couple in the monlight (black-and-white).

3. The man in the window (hand coloured).

These striking images were intended for projecting in British cinemas during the interval, usually while the organist played. (These are 3.25 x 4 inches, a common size used in cinemas.) Lantern slides in cinemas were mostly shown to advertise commercial products or forthcoming films, but these examples seem to be much less common ‘mood’ slides. They were produced by the Morgan’s Projected Publicity method; a semi-opaque ‘paint’ covered the glass, and when dry was scratched through. The precision of the scratched lines suggests the use of a stencil or pantograph. The result was then hand-coloured, when required. Two of these examples include, on an internal label, the patent number 216349, which relates to this technique. A new printout of the patent will be included.

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Very scarce. The chances of finding other examples showing the same images are very slim.

Condition: Very good. The external paper edge binding strips are somewhat ragged, with some pieces missing.

Price: £55.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

What d’ye LACK?

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Identifier: 2014047 WHAT D’YE LACK?

What d’ye LACK? The Times Publishing Company, Ltd. [1936] 24 pages plus cover, all on heavy stock.
Anonymous. Illustrations by Aubrey Hammond. Size: 216 x 279 mm

Those of us who are of a certain age will remember when the front page of The Times had no headlines, pictures, or even news stories, but only classified advertisements. The proprietors finally abandoned this tradition in 1966. If the presentation of the newspaper was somewhat dour in times past, it shouldn’t be assumed that the marketing was always unimaginative. This brochure from 1936 is based on a selection of amusing snippets from the pages of ‘The Thunderer’ dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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The intention was that readers would be entertained by the contents, and then realise that The Times was still an effective place to advertise; the final page of the brochure giving display rates. ‘What d’ye lack?” – a repeated phrase in Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Fisherman and His Soul – was an old street-seller’s cry.

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The quotes from old advertisements include one for a Villa ‘near Tooting’, illustrated by Pan sitting on a guidepost showing the way to nearby Balham; long before Peter Sellers made it “funny”. Presumably the quaint 19th-century idea of an ‘elegant villa’ in the London suburb – described in the advertisement as being ‘in the country’ – which by 1936 was just about filled with sprawling building development of cheap housing, was an amusing thought. Ironically, there’s many an elegant villa in Tooting (and even more in Balham) that today has an asking price of £4 million and upwards.

Aubrey Lindsay Hammond, (1894 -1940) attended Byam Shaw School of Art in England, and The Academie Julian in Paris. He designed posters for the Underground Group and London Transport, 1925-1934. Dr Chris Mullen writes:
“[Hammond] was an early example of an English designer prepared for any commercial challenge that came his way – book jackets, illustrations commercial and interpretative, posters, art direction for films, and designs for the stage – sets and costumes.”

One of his most famous works was the striking cover for the 1927 Readers Library edition of Thea von Harbou’s novel Metropolis.
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This two-colour job for The Times is quite scarce. The National Art Library (V&A) has a copy, but that’s the only one listed in WorldCat.

Condition: Generally good. Two small stains on front cover. Some foxing throughout. Mark on back cover (which is blank).

Price: £34.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide

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Identifier: 2014091. Dance of Ghosts and Death – magic lantern slide. [SOLD]

 

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Three images painted on glass, mounted in a period wooden lantern slide frame having three apertures. The maker has modified the wooden circles to avoid cropping the painted images. The original title: “DANCE OF GHOSTS AND DEATH” is written in ink on the top edge of the wooden mount. On one side of the frame is written what appears to be 6/- [six shillings] crossed out, and 5/- [five shillings] in pencil. Size: 295 x 99 mm.

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Skeletons and death figures were popular subjects for the phantasmagoria lantern shows of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The tradition goes back even earlier – a drawing of a skeleton removing its own head is a lantern slide design by Chrsitaan Huygens dating from 1659. The slide offered here probably dates from c.1830-1850, and is jovial rather than threatening or doom laden. Despite the title suggesting that Death (the skeleton) is dancing with ghosts, the nightshirted character appears to me to be alive and kicking. Unlike early engravings of the Dance of Death where the mortals are depicted as stiff and unaccommodating, the gentleman in this version readily joins in with the dance.

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This is the only known example of this subject, and the images from this slide were used as an illustration in Mervyn Heard’s book Phantasmagoria: The Secret Life of the Magic Lantern (The Projection Box, 2006).

A unique item.

Condition: good, with minor scratches, some areas of black background paint missing.

Price: [SOLD]      s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Mustard and Gramophones

identifier: 2014050 COLMAN’S RHYMES

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Rhymes & Tunes For Little Folks. J. & J. Colman, [England] c.1902. Booklet, 20 pages including cover. 109 x 138mm.

A small advertising booklet featuring illustrated nursery rhymes, including one showing a family listening to a gramophone. This important illustration has been superbly researched in Antique Phonograph News. I have reproduced below a major part of the article; the full piece, with references, is online here and is well worth reading in full.

Early Nod to Nipper
by Betty Minaker Pratt and Bill Pratt

J. & J.Colman Ltd, in business since 1814, was well aware of the enormous dividends to be reaped from investment in advertising their yellow tins of mustard powder. One of their long term promotional items was a series of booklets that was given away free to children every Christmas from the 1880s into the 1950s. “Children treasured these booklets. For many they were the first and only books they ever owned.”

Rhymes and Tunes For Little Folks is a 20-page booklet, 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches, with 16 nursery rhymes, musical scores with lyrics, and 12 colour illustrations. The first page inside the front cover shows “J. & J. Colman’s Xmas Greetings to Their Young Friends All Over the World”.

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Loosely adapted from Francis Barraud’s painting, it depicts the familiar subject of the little terrier, Nipper, listening intently to the recorded message emanating from a Berliner “Trademark” Gramophone. The talking machine may not be an exact rendering of the Type B Berliner, but the artist is clearly familiar with the model showing a brass horn, side brake, and external spring box mounted on the back, with a crank handle on top. In this rendition Nipper, with two black-tipped ears, is placed prominently in the foreground, but he is not the focus of attention. The boy in the paper party hat with a trumpet is centre stage, in his Little Lord Fauntleroy suit. Mothers had imposed this fashion on boys since 1886 when Frances Hodgson Burnett published her popular children’s novel.

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This is an early use of the Nipper theme. Page 3 of the booklet, “Sing a Song of Six Pence”, showing the king and queen, confronted with a hopelessly underbaked blackbird pie, conveniently dates the illustration with the depiction of a sixpence coin of 1902.

… So, the endearing painting of “His Master’s Voice”, soon to become famous all over the world – some say the most recognizable trademark ever – was an apt and topical subject for the Colman’s group of artists and their series of seasonal nursery books for little folks.’

Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society. Nov-Dec 2006

Only one copy of Rhymes & Tunes For Little Folks is shown in WorldCat.

Condition: Generally good. There is some rust staining in center margin of some pages (staples now removed). Minor marks to cover. Colours bright, pages firm and supple.

Price: £24.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Celluloid, and a scattering of flowers….

identifier: 20140906 CELLULOID NOTEBOOK

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Victorian mourning notebook with a celluloid cover panel. Size: 50 x 80mm.

This miniature notebook has a front panel of embossed celluloid, a material used from the 1870s to provide a material for mass production by moulding, in this case for an item that represented carved ivory. Evidently a mourning item, it contains a name on the inside cover, names of two people on the first page and then … it’s blank. From the dates given, this item is from the late 1870s or 1880s.

For the story of the introduction of celluloid – best known as the physical medium on which motion pictures were, until recent years, made and shown – I would encourage you to read the informative article: ‘Exploding Teeth, Unbreakable Sheets and Continuous Casting: Nitrocellulose from Gun-cotton to Early Cinema’ by Deac Rossell, which is available for free download here.
http://www.academia.edu/341267/Exploding_Teeth_Unbreakable_Sheets_and_Continuous_Casting_Nitrocellulose_from_Gun-Cotton_to_Early_Cinema

‘The company that finally found commercial success with the new material was founded in 1870 by John Wesley Hyatt and his brother Isaiah Smith Hyatt in Albany, New York. They called their formable plastic “celluloid”, and incorporated as the Albany Dental Plate Company. Hyatt used a mixture of pyroxyline and camphor in his celluloid, which he saw as a substitute for the hard rubber used by dentists in the false teeth, bridges, and other dental wares of the day. The company struggled until Hyatt, trained as a printer, began to form his teeth (and billiard balls, combs, and other trinkets) under heat and pressure, which created a material that was stable and hard in nearly any shape. Hyatt’s early products used no fillers, and only the “least quantity” of colouring pigments; therefore they were nearly pure gun-cotton, and his billiard balls burned rapidly if touched by a lighted cigar. Hyatt later wrote that “occasionally the violent contact of the balls would produce a mild explosion like a percussion guncap. We had a letter from a billiard saloon proprietor in Colorado, mentioning this fact and saying that he did not care so much about it but that instantly every man in the room pulled a gun.”
… John Wesley Hyatt received 61 patents between 1869 and 1891 for various celluloid-related processes, and by 1880 his company had issued licenses to almost two dozen firms engaged in the manufacture of celluloid dental plates, harness trimmings, knife and cutler handles, emery wheels, brushes, shirt cuffs and collars, shoes, piano keys, and a vast range of other items.’ [Extract]

 

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The notebook comprises about 60 graph-squared pages with gilded edges, that are mostly blank. Endpapers are white moire-pattern. The boards are covered with green-brown, coated paper. The accompanying pencil is topped with ivory or bone.

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The image shows a small boat with a swan figurehead, carrying five children. One is leaning over the side, and laying a floral wreath on the water. Another plays a flute as the ceremony is performed. I imagine that this was taken or adapted from an engraving or painting, but it’s a difficult subject to research. If you know the original subject, I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Condition: Very good. Some wear to the paper board covers.

Price: £35.00 plus postage s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Le Petit Inventeur – ‘The history of the future’

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Le Petit Inventeur. New Series nos. 1-25. Editions Albin Michel, Paris. 400 pages, Colour covers, b/w interiors. Hardback, bound in paper-covered boards, with coloured illustration on front. Size: 200 x 282 mm.

I would once have categorised the picture on the cover of this book as ‘Early television’, or ‘Videophone’, but of course it would now be best described as webcam skyping, or whatever the current phrase is for keeping up with family and friends online, both visually and sonically.

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This French magazine started in the early 20s, and this is a re-start from c.1930. Odd little pieces, with many b/w drawings, about all kinds of technological realities and promised future science-fiction gizmos that the boffins were just about to make real. In truth, the covers are the best part – and there are 25 of them, with most reproduced below. Great fun, and useful reference material for anyone writing about ‘the history of the future’. These magazines are not hard to find in their country of origin, but the bound volumes make collecting them much easier, and are rarely found outside of France.

Condition: Interior very good, with usual tanning of the pages. Some foxing to the covers (and minor marks to top margin), and a new webbing repair to the top of the spine. The old pasted-down endpapers are cracking at the spine joint, and there are a couple of small old paper repairs there, but the binding is still holding well so I’ve left those minor faults.

Price: £38.00 plus postage

s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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The Monkey with the Magic Lantern

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Twenty years ago I became aware of the wide range of illustrated versions of the fable generally known as ‘The monkey with the magic lantern’, while designing the page layout for an article about the subject written by French magic lantern collector Jean-Philippe Salier. I had one edition in my own collection. Some years earlier, I was in Paris with doyen collector Bill Barnes, scouring the cabins of the bouquinistes along the banks of the Seine. I spotted a very nice large illustrated version of the subject, sealed in a plastic wrapper. I picked it up and asked the dealer (in one of my few memorised French sentences), “I want to buy this. May I open it?” The response was an unsmiling “Non.” Bill shook his head and tutted. This didn’t happen in the Charing Cross Road. “Is it complete?” A surly, “Bien sûr, il est complet.”

I gave the book to Bill to hold, took out the required wad of francs, handed them to the dealer and said to Bill, as I took back the book and opened the Sellotaped wrapper, “If there are pages missing I’m going to hit him with it.” There weren’t, so I didn’t. The bouquiniste was now smiling, I managed a forced smile and a “Merci”, we shook hands and Bill and I went away with our treasure. It was later displayed in the exhibition Magical Lanterns, at the Museum of the Moving Image in London. It’s the copy now offered here.

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Les Fables de Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. Illustrees par A. Vimar. Henrie Laurens, Editeur. [n.d., c.1899] Avant-Propos de Andre Theuriet. 137 pages. Many b/w illustrations, and eight in colour, mostly full-page. Size: 225 x 283 mm. SOLD

Nicolas Stanislas-Auguste Vimar (1851-1916) was a French painter, sculptor, designer and illustrator. He exhibited in Paris and at Marseille, notably sculptures of animals, and contributed drawings to a number of journals including Figaro illustré and Le Rire. [adapted from Wikipedia].

English version of the fable:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Fables_of_Florian_(tr._Phelps)/The_Monkey_with_the_Magic_Lantern

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Advertisement, 1902

Advertisement, 1902

I believe this book of the Fables, with illustrations by Vimar, was published c.1899. An edition was certainly available by 1902, where it appears in a bookseller’s catalogue [Catalogue: Ernest Martin. Lester Smith collection]. There were two versions of this edition; one with b/w illustrations at 6 fr., and one with some illustrations in colour at 9 fr. This is the colour edition. I have seen this book with an identical cover but in green cloth, grey cloth, and in beige. I have not seen another example in red.

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‘In France, Jean-Pierre Clarisse de Florian is presently considered a minor writer and poet from the late 18th-century. Most likely his major contribution to literature is the first translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Not many people remember that Florian also write a series of fables … his most famous fable tells of ‘The monkey displaying the magic lantern’. Imagine how a frustrated monkey takes advantage of the temporary absence of his human mentor, a galantee showman. Here is a unique opportunity for him to proudly present to the other animals the lantern show he has watched so many times. No doubt he is fully knowledgeable about the process, and his sharp views of our world are about to change the life of generations to come. At last, a time for deep, philosophical considerations and valuable scientific comment comes of age. Precious sentences are filling the showroom while a series of views slide superbly [through] the lantern. Alas! What should have been an unforgettable one-monkey show quickly becomes an after-dinner talk of the most boring type … The galantee showmonkey … has forgotten just one thing – lighting up the lantern.’ [The Fabulist Displaying the Magic Lantern. A tribute to Florian 1755-1794. by Jean-Philippe Salier. New Magic Lantern Journal, Vol.7 No.2 September 1994.]

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Pictures of an itinerant showman with a monkey feature in many engravings and books from the 18th century onwards. In the illustrations in this book, the monkey is carrying and using a now very collectable Lapierre lantern, in the style known as ‘Carre’. I bought one in Paris in the ‘80s, from a friendly dealer in the Porte de Vanves market; which is still one of my favourite Parisian haunts.

This book turns up occasionally, but not always in good condition, and sometimes it’s the b/w version.

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Les Fables de Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. Illustrees par A. Vimar. Henrie Laurens, Editeur. [n.d., c.1899] 137 pages. Many b/w illustrations, and eight in colour, several full-page. Size: 225 x 283 mm.

Condition: generally good. Minor foxing and some brown / finger marks to some pages, and general tanning. Wear to the cloth on the bevelled edges of the boards, and spine. Cover illustration colours, and gilding, excellent.

Price: SOLD.

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