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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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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Happy Days – Louis Wain and a magic lantern show

identifier: 2014067 HAPPY DAYS MAGIC LANTERN

H. G. Wells said of Louis Wain, “He has made the cat his own. He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves.”

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Happy Days. Stories and pictures for little folk. Blackie & Son Ltd, London and Glasgow. n.d. [c.1919]. 24 pages, plus illustrated endpapers. Size 200 x 260mm. Features an illustration of THE MAGIC LANTERN ENTERTAINMENT by Louis Wain. The artist (1860-1939) needs little introduction – his work featuring anthropomorphised cats being famous. He illustrated more than 100 children’s books as well as postcards, prints and greetings cards, and continued drawing for many years while in mental hospitals.

This book is featured on NeverSeen because of the collectable theme of the subject matter of this double-page colour spread, a magic lantern show. I’m aware of another magic lantern show picture featuring Louis Wain’s cats, which was reproduced in the New Magic Lantern Journal Vol.2 No.1 in 1983 – without a reference to the original source, which was The Sketch, 14 March 1894. Happy Days is not widely held in institutional libraries, and is scarce in good condition.

Condition: Very good. Slight bowing of the boards, wear to board edges, and a name in the “Belongs to” box.

Price: £45.00 plus postage.       s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

Scroll down for more pictures, and further items.

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Georgie Goosegog

goosegog
[goo z-gog]
noun, British Dialect
1.
gooseberry.
Origin
1815-25; goose + gog (< ?)

Georgie Goosegog. Artwork by Cyril Cowell, Amex Co. Ltd, London and Letchworth, n.d. [c.1947]. Comic book, printed in colour, 8 pages, size: 240 x 179mm.

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Cyril Cowell (1888-1967) was born in Canterbury, Kent. He was working as an illustrator by 1911. He drew for nursery comics from the 1920s to the 50s, including Fairyland Tales (1924-), Children’s Own Sunday Pictorial (1933-1934), Pip and Squeak Annual (1933), Children’s Holiday Fun (1937-1940) and Mickey Mouse Weekly (1950s). In the 1940s he drew the weekly gardening strip Adam the Gardener, written by Morley Adams, for the Sunday Express. He also illustrated children’s books, including some by Enid Blyton. He specialised in drawing animals and the natural world.

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Georgie Goosegog’s vegetable friends play a trick on Georgie, filling his irritating whistle with ink. But Georgie comes to their rescue later, as he frightens off marauding caterpillars with the spray from his whistle.

The fairly large pages of this comic, with just one picture panel per page, allow the artwork to breathe, a refreshing change from the usual multiple panels being squeezed onto a page. The ‘Competitive Creepy Crawlies’ shown here bring to mind the Fleischer Studios’ animated feature Mr Bug Goes to Town, of about the same period. Cowell seemed especially fond of drawing squirrels, but for me the bright-eyed anthropomorphic vegetables seen in Georgie Goosegog are much more fun than humanised animals – though there’s something rather disturbing about fruity Georgie’s pink human ears, appendages that the veggies seem able to do without. As does Georgie himself, in the final panel. Which is a bit weird. Oh yes, and Cyril – who named the Carrot after himself – forgot to colour in Georgie’s sleeves in the penultimate scene. Seven of the eight panels are shown here.

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Rarer than Action Comics No.1, an example of which fetched 3.2m dollars on Ebay the other day. And the artwork’s better, too. Microforms from a copy in the Bodleian are kept in some institutional libraries, but you’d be hard pressed to find another copy to buy, at any price.

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Condition: generally good, with minor edge damage. The comic has been folded in half vertically. This barely detracts, being most evident on the back page, where there is some wear in that area.

Price: £12.00 plus postage                 s-herbert@easynet.co.uk