Retro Video

identifier: 2014070 TELDEC & TELCAN



The DeccaRecord Company Limited, Decca House, 9 Albert Embankment, London, S.E.1. [Printing number: PL564770]

Folded leaflet, page size: 202 x 254mm. [SOLD]

In 1970 – or was it 1971? I was technician for a conference about Video Discs, held at the National Film Theatre. The possibilities of this new medium, not yet commercially available, were promoted – short extracts from videos of surgical operations, so that surgeons could easily have repeat viewings in their office or at home, and other groundbreaking possibilities. To set the scene, it should be remembered that this was many years before VHS and Betamax, and before the introduction of the Philips VideoCassette. The images were recorded on an 8-inch-diameter (200 mm) flexible foil disc which spun at 1,500 rpm on a cushion of air, and reproduced by means of a pickup with a diamond stylus. Running time: 5 minutes (12-inch disc: 7.5 minutes).

“…the undisputed merits of the disc as a storage medium – encouraged engineers of TELDEC … to resume experiments five years ago. Their labours were not in vain. The Video Disc is now a reality and a commercial proposition; and the world of communication will, as a result, be revolutionised.”


I think it was intended to have a demo at the talk, but the gear didn’t materialize – though I do remember seeing a sample flexi-disc. Launched a while later as TeD (Television Electronic Disc), there was limited commercial application. The technology moved on. The year that TeD was launched I wrote a science fiction short story, Razzle Dazzle (Science Fiction Monthly, August 1975) alluding to the Philips LaserDisc, then in development. Twenty years later, in the museum building next door to the NFT, I found myself Technical Manager responsible for perhaps the largest (anywhere) installation of Philips LaserDiscs – 72 players that whirred away all day, six or seven days a week.



I picked up a leaflet at that 1970 conference, thinking “This might be of interest in the future.” Well, the future has come and gone, with the later development of LaserDiscs now a distant memory, and DVD and BluRay fading away as downloads and modern storage methods take over. So here it is, a leaflet from the deep past of visual media. Well, my deep past, anyway.

Condition: very good.

Price: £15.00 plus postage. (Plus: see item below)




For all Recording Tape Users. Published by Badische Anilin-& Soda-Fabrik AG Ludwigshafen am Rhein and distributed by BASF Chemicals Limited, 5a Gillespie Road, London, N.5. 20 pages including cover. Size: 146 x 146mm.

The main interest is a short piece entitled Tape Recording of Vision and Sound, which occupies less than 4 pages. Telcan was the first attempt at marketing a domestic “TV recorder” in the UK. For those of us not backroom boffins in tv studios, the idea of recording moving images onto magnetic tape seemed like some kind of magic. Yet this is what we were promised.

telcan02[click to read]


A friend told me years later that he’d been to a demonstration at a London hotel. The quarter-inch tape was moving at 120 inches per second! The system worked, it was marketed briefly, but soon died.

The young people on the cover are perhaps recording a play – in between cigarette puffs. No doubt they would also drag out the Grundig occasionally to record messages for friends; as explained herein, swapping audio tapes by post was a popular hobby in those days. I was doing it myself a few years later. Social media of the early 1960s.

It’s stained, creased, torn, inked, patched-up and poorly – and hence, free to whoever buys the video disc brochure listed above.

The Lantern: The Cyclist Year Book

identifier: 2014045 LANTERNCYCLIST [SOLD]

The Lantern: The Christmas Number and Year Book of The Cyclist for 1887-88.

Published by Iliffe & Son, 98 Fleet St, London & Coventry. PRICE ONE SHILLING.

Softback, size 204 x 278mm. Pagination starts on page 33 (following the unpaginated Christmas Number), and ends with page 126. The many advertising pages are extra to the 126.

Contents as follows:

First: Eighteen pages of advertisements (most advertising pages are on pink paper). Introduction, explaining that the contents are “a combination of fact and fancy…”. Thirteen plates on thick stock, one showing the year 1887 passing, and heralding 1888, and one for each month. The plates comprise drawings of mock-historical scenes appropriate to the season, three or four per page, with one picture on each page having cycling relevance.

The illustrations are all by George A W Moore, a young man who provides his self-portrait, together with those of the other contributors, on the back of the December plate.

click to read

Two pages of ads, then: ‘Our Lantern Social … Critical, Sarcastic Commentary of the doings in the Cycling World during the Year 1887’ – an extraordinary spoof description of a magic lantern show and its participants, all well known characters in the cycling world at that time. Several circular sketches of the supposed lantern slides projected at the show are included. This ‘account’ stretches over almost 40 pages (37-76), including music sheet, words to songs and recitations, all interspersed with a further 24 unpaginated pink pages of ads. These are mostly for cycles and accessories, but also include a half-page for cameras and magic lanterns by Perken Son & Rayment, and others for Kingston Dry Plates, and Shew’s Eclipse Pocket Camera.

[click to enlarge]

There follows a Resume of Cycling 1887, Racing Record, Cycle Clubs of the United Kingdom, Who’s Who in Cycling, and a final article: Instantaneous Photography for Cyclists, by editor Henry Sturmey (1857-1930). He provides some useful hints on the particular requirements for the photographer of moving objects, and for their presentation suggests “no better way can be adopted than reproducing his pictures as lantern slides…”. Sturmey will be best remembered by my generation as the inventor with William Archer of the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub for bicycles.

The cover, also by George Moore, is a tour-de-force, and seems to be previously unknown in the specialist world of magic lantern research. Moore’s drawings are professional, and up to anything being published in Punch or the other major general magazines of the period. A collection of his cyclist-related cartoons from Bicycling News was re-published as a 5-volume limited edition hardback set (The George Moore Collection, Beekay, 1979-82), but I have not seen these, which are fairly scarce. Moore has some small fame as being responsible for the first mention of a sidecar, in a cartoon in the January 7, 1903 issue of Motor Cycling.

Although 12 pence was quite an expense, this was very good value for such a sumptuous publication. Karl Kron, author of Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle (1887) described the previous year’s annual, which is similar, as “perhaps the most elaborate and costly amount of such material ever offered for a shilling”.

This 1887-88 publication exceeds all expectations in interest, and is very rare. It does not seem to be listed on WorldCat as a separate item (one or two institutions have editions of the Year Book which have not been catalogued by date), and variations in the title wording on the cover and the title page, and cataloguers’ variants, make it difficult to look for. I have been able to trace only one other known example, in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian. The National Cycling Archive, University of Warwick possibly has one too, the cataloguing is ambiguous.

The main text block is in generally very good condition, clean and bright. The cover has some minor paper loss from the spine and front top corner, corner loss on back, is foxed and has two ink stains on the front. Sellotape has been removed, leaving residue staining. Small tears to the front cover have been closed with professional repair tissue on the blank borders of the inside of the cover. The rear cover has recently been strengthened with Japanese tissue where it joins the text block, and at the outer edge, to enable the item to be read without the risk of further damage. There have been no other new repairs. The staples are showing rust. The item is housed in a new custom-made clam shell box in blue bookcloth.

Price: SOLD


 One of the 12 monthly plates



Imaginary lantern slides, shown at the Annual Social

Imaginary lantern slides, shown at the Annual Social. Click to enlarge


Sordides Scandales

identifier: 2014059 SORDIDES

Sordides Scandales des Stars de L’Ecran

I’ve had this little item from new. At the time I was a regular buyer of the influential French comicbook Metal Hurlant, which eventually appeared in an American edition as Heavy Metal. My comics disappeared long ago, except for this little one. As the title suggests, it’s full of graphic (i.e. uninhibited) comicstrips depicting the scandals of Hollywood’s movie stars including: Fatty fait la bringue par Flooglebuckle – Hollywood tragedy le suicide de Lupe Velez par Laurence Lafey – Clara Bow emballe the Thundering Herd par V.C Flippant – Tallulah Bankhead par Griffhead – La mort mystérieuse de William Desmond Taylor (Anonyme) – Sa mère est tellement fière de lui [Liberace] par Grifface.

Hollywood Heritage Press / Humanoïdes Associés – Métal Hurlant 1981. 32 pages plus cover, size 130 x 180mm. Marilyn Monroe. 1970s supplement to the French comics magazine Métal Hurlant, Serie n° 64 (Hollywood Special). American underground comicstrip stories. Black-and-white interior. There is a second credit to Kitchen Sink Enterprises (1974). Inspired by Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, etc.

I’ve always felt a tinge of sadness for Roscoe ArbuckIe – one of my favourites when I discovered silent movies – and the way that he was treated by the press. In the early 70s I had a letter published in Headlines magazine, decrying their coverage of the story. And I remember as a ten-year-old hearing on the hospital radio the announcement of Marilyn’s death, during the months that I struggled with rheumatic fever. A melancholy mood permeated the ward that day. I’d never been to see her movies, but she was of course ubiquitous in the popular press, and on tv and radio news. Some years ago, while I was helping to display the artefacts in an exhibition about Hollywood Stars, the organiser said to me: “Hold out your hand.” Something dropped into my palm; a small pill bottle, bearing a label with the name of the patient: Mrs Miller. It took a moment for me to realize that it was one of Marilyn’s effects. I quickly handed it back.

I don’t have a settled opinion about the appropriateness of this type of exploitative comic book. Part of me says, don’t be a hypocrite, throw it out. But the curator in me says: it’s a part of publishing history. The curator won, so here it is. And please note: for adults only. Pages yellowed, but otherwise in good condition.

Price: £12.00 plus postage. Contact:


The Kinora: a lost world flickers into life

It wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that films would be seen in cinemas. At first, there weren’t any such places – village halls, theatres, fairgrounds were the venues for ‘living picture’ shows. Short movies were also shown in arcades, first with Edison’s peepshow kinetoscope film machine, and then with the flip-card mutoscope. But it was also a possibility that the big demand would be for motion pictures in the home, and it was a miniature version of the mutoscope that took most of this early market, which flourished in France and Britain, especially, before the First World War. The Kinora featured of the technical designs of the American inventor Herman Casler, developed into a miniature clockwork machine by the Lumière Brothers in France, in 1896. It was marketed a few years later by Gaumont in France, and then hand-cranked versions appeared in England during the early years of the 20th century. Viewers could be purchased, and Kinora reels of professional productions – printed from 35mm film – rented. There were even studios that specialized in taking one’s Kinora portrait – for a price more than twice that of many workers’ weekly take-home pay. Around 1908 in England a home camera was added to the system, but seems to have been technically unreliable and was very expensive. I’ve always been fascinated by the Kinora, I think mainly because of the extremely efficient use of the viewing machine’s minimal technology to produce a very effective moving picture. A scene or face from a lost time is seen though the lens, the crank is turned, and the frozen past gradually flickers into life again, in a way that somehow seems different from just watching an old movie on a screen. Over the years I’ve given talks about the system to the Royal Photographic Society, at the National Portrait Gallery (London), and to the Magic Lantern Society. In the 1990s my partnership The Projection Box published Barry Anthony’s booklet, Kinora: Motion Pictures for the Home 1896-1914, and later a facsimile of the original Kinora Reels catalogue, taken from the only known original. A new edition, combining both booklets, is available from Blurb.


I’ve owned this Kinora viewer by Kinora Ltd, London for thirty years, and it’s now time to find it a new home. This example, from c.1906-1908, is in mahogany.  Condition is very good, with just a small piece of wood missing (as per photo), at the bottom of the hood.

With the viewer is the Kinora reel No.117: Portrait, woman eating apple. (Title in ink on the box: LADY WITH APPLE). The reel is in good condition, and works well. Evidently a studio set-up. It was necessary to give the sitter something to do. Gentlemen usually smoked, ladies removed their hats or blew kisses. This lady (probably an actress) consumes the fruit most enthusiastically.

Kinora viewer and this reel: [SOLD].

References: Barry Anthony, ‘Shadows of Early Films’, Sight & Sound Summer 1990

Richard Brown and Barry Anthony, A Victorian Film Enterprise: A History of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (Flicks Books, 1996)

Stephen Herbert, ‘Animated Portraits’ History of Photography Vol.13 No.1 1989

________‘Kinora Living Pictures’ Amateur Cinematography Papers No.6, 1984

________‘Kinora Living Pictures’, Photo Historian No.95, Winter 1991

Henry V. Hopwood, Living Pictures Their History, Photo-Production and Practical Working (Optician and Photographic Trades Review, 1899)


Ally Sloper, Friend of Man

identifier: 2014057 ALLY SLOPER [SOLD]

Wandering through the British Library exhibition ‘Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK’ last week, I was delighted to see on display an ancient, boy-sized ventriloquist’s dummy of Ally Sloper, ‘The Friend of Man’, together with a selection of comics featuring the blustering, lazy schemer. It took me back …

One day in 1976 I was crossing Cambridge Circus in London when I spotted Denis Gifford, champion of British Comics (and British films), comic artist and writer. I accosted him, asking for his autograph on my copy of the first issue of his new magazine, Ally Sloper, a compendium of strip art old and new. “Where did you get that?” he asked, surprised, “I haven’t even see it yet!” I’d just bought it from Dark They Were and Golden Eyed (I seem to remember), the comics and science fiction bookshop that I haunted for some years. He signed it, adding, “First today,” and then – “First ever!” That historic copy recently passed into the collection of a young comics enthusiast.

Denis’s mag was named after the character in Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, a British comic, first published on 3 May 1884. Wikipedia says: ‘It has a legitimate claim to being the first comic magazine named after and featuring a regular character. Star Ally Sloper … often found “sloping” through alleys to avoid his landlord and other creditors….The “half holiday” referred to in the title was the practice in Victorian Britain of allowing the workers home at lunchtime on a Saturday.’

Originally appearing in print 1867 in Judy, Mr. Sloper settled into his own penny weekly magazine very successfully, sales supposedly pushing 350,000. On 23rd November 1889, Ally Sloper printed a cartoon entitled ‘The quality of Mercier is not strained’ (Shakespeare and Sloper). In January 1889, British newspapers reported:

THE ‘ALLY SLOPER’ LIBEL CASE. A libel case, which has been occupying the attention of the Courts for some days, was on Wednesday brought to a conclusion. It was an action by Mr St. Vincent Mercier, Secretary of St. John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, against Mr Gilbert Dalziel, the proprietor of “Ally Sloper,” for defamation of character. “Ally Sloper” apparently accused the Secretary of appropriating money belonging to the Hospital, and witnesses were called on both sides to prove that this was and this wasn’t so. Mr Mercier seems to have had a very ramshackle way of managing the finances of the institution, but it seems to have been all right, as the jury found for him in a verdict of £300 damages. Mr Dalziel, by the way, refused a few months ago a sum of £100,000 for “Ally Sloper”, so that the verdict should make little difference to him.’ [This version from The Press (New Zealand) 18 March 1889].

[click to enlarge]

Cheekily, Dalziel used the case as the subject for front-page cartooning. Ally Sloper No.250, February 9th 1889 (Vol.VI.), showed ‘A. SLOPER’s DEFENCE FUND.’ Ally was depicted as a pavement artist, bearing a sign ‘PITY A STONE BROKE LIBELLER’. The pavement art featured BARON POLOK [the judge Sir Charles Edward Pollock], – LOKWOOD [prosecuting counsel F. Lockwood] – and GUY [?], plus the 12-man jury. Ally’s dog is collecting with a chipped mug, ‘A Present from Margate’, and a young Sloperesque character (Tootsie?) is collecting coins in Sloper’s hat, but the crowd seem more keen to throw vegetables and dead-looking cats than money.

The same issue’s cartoon Portrait featured MR. F. LOCKWOOD, Q.C., M.P., F.O.S. [Friend of Sloper?] … ‘We regret to say that the subject of our portrait this week is Mr. Lockwood Q.C. … We do not know how long Mr. Lockwood has followed his present occupation, nor do we care, nor do we know at which of the Billingsgate Board Schools he learnt the gentle lingo which, until recently, we thought was particular to the festive fisherman of that district..’

Evidently the periodical Truth had also been sued by Mercier. The issue of Ally Sloper for 13 April (Vol.VI. No.259) featured a follow-up cartoon, ‘OH LOR’! OH, LOR’!!

[click to enlarge]

TOOTSIE provided the caption: ‘Papa and Mr. Labouchere spent a very pleasant afternoon last week congratulating one another on the result of the Libel Actions brought against them by Saint Vincent Mercier. As a compliment to Mr. Labouchere, Papa posed as the figure which appears on the front page of Truth, and as a mark of respect to Poor Papa, Mr. Labouchere asked Augustus Sala to be present with his notebook. Papa seems awfully puzzled why he should have to pay £300 damages, while Truth was fined only Forty Shillings. As Herbert Campbell says, ‘No wonder he’s peevish.’ TOOTSIE.

Artwork for both cartoons was by W.F. Thomas. (Augustus Sala was a prolific commentator on society and the arts. Truth, known for its investigative journalism, had been founded by the Liberal politician Henry Labouchère. Herbert Campbell was a popular music hall comedian.)

What’s being offered here are two 1889 issues of Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday, as described above. Each comprises two large folded sheets, forming an 8-page comic, page size 276 x 377mm. With cartoon illustrations by several unnamed artists, jokes and funny stories. They have survived well, being printed on quality paper, and extracted from a bound volume. Some foxing, minor staining, folds, small tears. Some front edges reinforced professionally some time in the past, and one issue has centre folds recently reinforced with Japanese tissue.

Price for both together: [SOLD] Contact:

Lots more about Ally Sloper here:



Identifier: 2014026 VALHALLA

In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”) is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s field Fólkvangr. In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök. Before the hall stands the golden tree Glasir, and the hall’s ceiling is thatched with golden shields. [Wikipedia]

For what seemed like every day of his life, my maternal grandfather Harry sang, whistled, or hummed ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’, with an occasional ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’ by way of a change. For seventeen of his retirement years I lived in the same house, and he sometimes told stories of his time in the trenches during the First World War, rolling up his trouser leg to show the bullet scar that got him sent back to Blighty. His brother Eddie wasn’t so lucky, and never came home. Harry had to tell Eddie’s fiancée Lil the bad news. Eventually he married her – but of course, could never be as fine a husband as Eddie would have been. Such are the effects of war, effects that echo down through generations.

Having watched the BBC’s The Great War: The People’s Story this weekend, I picked up the next book on my pile of items to write about for this website, and it was an original copy of:

The Road to Valhalla, by Walter Ibbotson Hulme

Privately published. Manchester: Jesse Broad & Company, 1918. Size: 135mm x 215mm. 64 pages.

Original edition, this example offered for sale

A new edition was published in 2012, with the title Valhalla : ‘D’ Company 2/6th Manchesters, 1914-1918, Edited by Robert A Bonner of the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.

The publisher’s blurb tells us:

“In retirement Walter Hulme lived in Groby Road, Altrincham and published this poignant little book describing his life in the 2/6th – for private circulation amongst friends and comrades from the war. He wrote it during his five months on active service from August 1917 until his evacuation to England on 1 January 1918. It covers the period of battle from his arrival in the Fricourt/Montauban area and reflects a soldier’s view of the battles around Trones Wood and Mametz. He was wounded at Beaumont Hamel in October 1917.”

‘It is useless to describe the feelings as one lies gazing through the open curtain of a motor ambulance and watches the country slipping past. The mist that has hung about since early morning is growing still more dense, the wheels tear their way through the everlasting mud, and the dismal zone of battle falls gradually behind. The booming of guns and the bursting of shells grow less and less violent, the din of traffic, the many pictures of war, become somewhat subdued, and, presently, coming to a standstill, we are carried, tired yet thankful, to a peace that we have not known for many, many months.’

There is only one copy of the original in WorldCat, which is in the British Library. At the time of writing, there is one copy on Abe Books.

The example offered here is in generally good condition. The card covers are stained and discoloured with edgewear and small tears. Internally, the uncut pages are yellowed and sporadically foxed, and the edges toned. Stains to two or three pages.

[click to read]

Includes 2 unsigned, duplicated typewritten letters (and a second copy of one of the letters) on tracing paper. These comprise explanatory notes regarding the publication, and help in further distribution, as shown.

The book and letters are now protected in a pouch in a hardback cover, in black bookcloth.

Price: £65.00 plus postage. Contact:

One day soon I’ll research Harry and Eddie and find out more about their stories, and pass on what I find to my own grandson, before the long commemoration of what must have seemed like an endless War is over.


The Sentinel: A Space Odyssey

identifier: 2014062 NEW WORLDS

In May 1968, while students were rioting in Paris, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey showed in a 70mm print on the large curved screen at London’s Casino-Cinerama venue. I was one of the many who went to see it there, later that year, and was awed. Neil Armstrong had not yet set foot on the moon. The movie ran for 47 weeks. Which brings us to these two items:

The Sentinel – in New Worlds 22

New Worlds started in 1936 as a fanzine, Novae Terrae, and Arthur C. Clarke was involved in its production. It was re-started as a professional magazine by John Carnell in 1939 (New Worlds Vol.1 No.1) but the publishing company collapsed, and the War began. The mag re-started in July 1946, but the new publisher also went bust. Carnell himself formed a company, Nova, and New Worlds appeared again. Which takes us up to No.22, and a problem with the printers…. Here’s a precis of the Wikipedia account: ‘Issue 22 was repeatedly delayed; proofs appeared in August, and the issue itself was promised for November. Even this late schedule was not adhered to, and [Editor] Carnell finally received a copy of the print run in January 1954. The copy was dated 1953 (with no month), and since this made it useless for distribution in 1954, Carnell refused to accept the print run. While the dispute with the printers was going on, Carnell and Maurice Goldsmith, a journalist acquaintance of Carnell’s, put together a small conference of well-known science fiction authors, including Arthur C. Clarke and John Wyndham. Goldsmith covered the conference for Illustrated, a weekly magazine, and the article caught the attention of Maclaren & Sons Ltd, a technical trade publisher interested in launching a new sf magazine. Carnell turned down the offer because of his loyalty to Nova Publications, but subsequent discussions ultimately led to Maclaren taking control of Nova, with a commitment to produce New Worlds on a monthly basis … By January 1954, when (printing agent) The Carlton Press delivered the incorrectly dated issue 22, the acquisition by Maclaren was complete, and Maclaren’s legal department was helpful in resolving the dispute…. an injunction was obtained that sequestered the issues to avoid them being sold to recover the printing costs. Carnell retained the copy he had been sent in January, and it is thought that this is the only copy that exists of The Carlton Press’s version of this issue, as the remainder of the printing run was destroyed at the conclusion of the court case. The cover painting, by Gerard Quinn, was subsequently used on issue 13 of Science Fantasy, and all the stories and editorial material eventually appeared in later issues of New Worlds over the next year. The financial support that Maclaren provided meant that once issue 22 finally appeared in April 1954, it was the start of a regular monthly schedule that lasted until 1964…’

New Worlds Science Fiction. Volume 8, Number 22. Nova Publications Ltd, London, No date [April 1954]. First Edition, Softcover, Colour illustrated front cover, by Kinnear. Stories illustrated by various artists. 128 pages. Size: 137 x 200mm. Contents:

inside front cover • ‘New Worlds Profiles: Arthur C. Clarke’ • uncredited essay. 2 • Growing Up… • essay by John Carnell. 4 • ‘Takeoff’ (Part 1 of 3) • interior artwork by Gerard Quinn. 5 • ‘Takeoff’ (Part 1 of 3) • serial by C. M. Kornbluth [Cyril M. Kornbluth ]. 23 • ‘Takeoff’ (Part 1 of 3) [2] • interior artwork by Gerard Quinn. 35 • ‘Takeoff’ (Part 1 of 3) [3] • interior artwork by Gerard Quinn. 47 • ‘The Sentinel’ • (1951) • short story by Arthur C. Clarke. 56 • ‘Opposite Numbers’ • short story by John Wyndham. 70 • ‘Eclipse’ • essay by Maurice Goldsmith. 77 • ‘Museum Piece’ • (1953) • short story by John Christopher. 78 • ‘Museum Piece’ • interior artwork by Gerard Quinn. 86 • ‘Only an Echo’ • short story by Alan Barclay. 87 • ‘Only an Echo’ • interior artwork by Gordon Hutchings. 94 • ‘Only an Echo’ [2] • interior artwork by Gordon Hutchings. 100 • ‘Relay Race’ • short story by J. T. McIntosh. 126 • Book Reviews • essay by Leslie Flood.

The story ‘The Sentinel’ ‘deals with the discovery of an artifact on Earth’s Moon left behind eons ago by ancient aliens. The object is made of a polished mineral, is tetrahedral in shape, and is surrounded by a spherical forcefield. The narrator speculates at one point that the mysterious aliens who left this structure on the Moon may have used mechanisms belonging “to a technology that lies beyond our horizons, perhaps to the technology of para-physical forces.” … for millions of years (evidenced by dust buildup around its forcefield) the artifact has been transmitting signals into deep space …’ [Wikipedia]

From what I can discover online, it seems that ‘The Sentinel’ was written in 1948 for a BBC competition (in which it failed to place) and was first published in the magazine 10 Story Fantasy in 1951, under the title ‘Sentinel of Eternity’. It first appeared in the USA in The Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader published by Avon Periodicals, Inc. in 1951. It was subsequently published as part of short story collections in Expedition to Earth (1953). It seems that the appearance in New Worlds was its first under the title ‘The Sentinel’. The cover artist Kinnear is elusive – I can find no other science fiction artwork of the period attributed to anyone by that name.

Illustration for ‘Museum Piece’

This is the second version of New Worlds No.22. It isn’t rare, but you might not bump into a copy in your local secondhand bookshop any time soon; so here is a chance to own a 1950s science fiction magazine with an interesting publishing history – the title would eventually be edited by Michael Moorcock, and become a renowned quarterly – and stories by top flight writers. This copy is in generally good condition, with general tanning of the pages. A blank corner of the back cover has been restored, and a small tear at the bottom edge of the front cover has been repaired on the interior with a piece of Japanese repair tissue.

Price: £15.00 plus postage. Contact:

identifier: 2014068 SPACE ODYSSEY
The film 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968, ‘Thus the “glittering, roughly pyramidal structure … set in the rock like a gigantic, many-faceted jewel” became — after several modifications — the famous black monolith. ‘[Wikipedia]. Clarke was reportedly annoyed that ‘The Sentinel’ is often referred to as “the story the novel and movie is based on,” as it was just one small – though I would say extremely important – element of the eventual film / book.

2001: A Space Odyssey, lenticular 3D advertising card. Size: 10.375 inches x 13.5 inches.

This rare lenticular ‘poster’ features the Pan Am Clipper, and the massive rotating space station. The lenticular process (the thin plastic ridges are shaped like lenses) has been used here to give a stunning 3D effect, and also produces a limited effect of movement. Commonly seen used for production of small items – postcards, rulers, etc – the technique is extremely effective in larger formats. This ‘poster’ was never offered for sale, being distributed to cinemas for publicity purposes. A larger version was also produced. [The yellowing of the frame is a defect in my photo, and is not on the original].]

This original 1968 example is still flat, with the cardboard in good condition, and the picture still has its white plastic edging. The image is bright and the colours vivid. There are patches of bruising to the lenticular surface (example: see picture above), more evident at some viewing angles, but this hardly detracts from the overall effect. Near-perfect examples sell for over 2000 US dollars. An example online as a write, with minor wear, is priced at £750 (pounds). The example offered here is priced at just £250.00 plus postage. Contact:


Goaheadison’s Real Latest

identifier 2014058 GOAHEADISON

In 1973 or ‘74, I was a technical assistant at a late-night presentation at London’s New Victoria Theatre. Usually employed to project films or work the ‘limes’ (follow-spot) for the London Festival Ballet season, my role in this particular show was minimal – but it was certainly an extraordinary experience. A Mohammed Ali boxing match was being transmitted live from the USA, to an Eidophor video projector – a huge, ugly beast that required four men to carry it, strung onto scaffolding poles. The machine was set up in the back stalls, roped off within touching distance of the audience, and the signal came through from the Post Office Tower (as it was then) – to an outside van? – and by cable to the projector. At least that’s how I remember it as I glimpsed the preparations while scurrying about with polystyrene cups of coffee for those who were actually doing the work.

After warming up for an hour the projector gave a ‘raster’ on the screen, and then an amazingly clear black-and-white picture of the ring appeared. Our audience of perhaps 2,000 fight fans jostled into their seats, and the pugilistic punishment began. The technology was all working well, but there was no Plan B. The video technician standing next to the machine said to me as the fight hotted up and our own beered-up crowd became at least as excited as the natives, “You realize, if the projector lamp goes pop or the signal’s lost, we won’t get out of here alive?” I have no interest in boxing and I remember nothing of the bout – perhaps frozen in sheer terror at the potential result of a technical failure – but from the dates it must have been either Joe Bugner (February 14, 1973) or Bob Foster (November 21, 1972) who lost to Ali that night. I was reminded of that episode when I found this item, twenty years later.

Original cartoon artwork signed by James Francis Sullivan (1852-1936) , in period mount.

Professor Goaheadison’s Real Latest

The idea of television and other forms of seeing-at-a-distance flourished in the late 19th century. In 1889 Thomas Edison encouraged reporters to believe that he had already achieved some experimental results with ‘… an invention which will enable a man in Wall-street not only to telephone to a friend near Central Park, say, but to actually see that friend while speaking to him.’1 This invention failed to appear but the popular press and satirists soon latched onto the idea. In July 1889 two relevant cartoons appeared in the satirical magazine Fun, a rival to Punch.

In ‘Professor Goaheadison’s Latest’ (3 July 1889) a gentleman wishes to consult his doctor, Sir Settemup Pilliboy in Harley Street. Not happy about the prospect of a journey to London, he is told of Professor Goaheadison’s Far-Sight Machine: “by means of which a person in Nyork can actually see another person in Shicaago, or Borston, or even ‘Frisco’”. The writer uses the concept to make political comment about contemporary concerns. The text has an accompanying drawing of a videophone / webcam, sketched by James Sullivan, best-known for his cartoons featuring the working man.

A subsequent issue of Fun (17 July 1889) has a three-panel cartoon strip by Sullivan: ‘Goaheadison’s Real Latest’, featuring the Far-Touch Machine, and the original artwork is being offered here. 2

The artist imagines a form of trans-Atlantic cable virtual-reality boxing. No need for one of the fighters to cross to another continent – he could fight from home. A Far-Touch machine is seen as a logical follow-up to Edison’s proposed Far-Sight machine; the latter we are told is being used by the boxers to keep sight of each other as they trade punches.

[click to enlarge]

[click to enlarge]

‘EH? Goaheadison’s Far-Sight Machine? Bless your soul; that’s quite an antiquity now. Quite eclipsed by the Far-Touch machine!

Haven’t read the account of that mill between Dan Dotter of Doncaster and the McFlattener, the Boston Bumper? Oh, yes – all carried out by cable; one end of it at Doncaster, and the other at Boston.

Dan faced the machine at the Doncaster end in good form at 11.32. Some very pretty play. Dan dodged a cleverly-tried jaw-compresser from Mac’s right, and got the electric current onto the ropes in the fifth round.

Then the machine planted several on Dan’s ribs; & Dan came up groggy for the 17th round; but supplied the cable with a neat lifter under the ritht ear at 12.13 1/4.

On the call for the 24th round Mac forgot to come up; & Dan got the belt.

It was a pretty sight throughout; the American cham-pion being distinctly visible through a Far-Sight machine.’

[click to enlarge]

At the end, a passing gentleman is sent sprawling by the full thrust of a stray punch.

During the affair an amusing incident occurred.
As Mac was ushering in a superior lightning
locater with his left, a heedless visitor happened
to pass in front of the transmitter.
Curable in six weeks, with reserve.

The published version had typeset text. The version offered here is the original cartoon artwork hand drawn in ink, with manuscript ink captions on the card mount. The cartoon is in three pieces, mounted at the back with brown paper tape, into the three beveled apertures. Sullivan’s signature is meticulously lettered on the lower piece. The card mount includes another version of Sullivan’s signature. I believe that the manuscript captions and signature on the mount were also most likely both written by Sullivan at about the time of the creation of this piece, but of course it’s impossible to be certain.

In very good condition. Mild foxing and yellowing to the original cartoon. Tanning to the edges of the mount. Mount size: 372 x 527mm. A digital printout of the published version will be provided with the original.

Price: £320.00 plus postage. Contact:

With thanks to Dr. Nicholas Hiley for information about Sullivan.

1. Levant Herald, 1 September 1889.
2. This artwork, ‘Goaheadison’s Real Latest’, has been reproduced in two modern publications: the academic journal Early Popular Visual Culture, Vol. 9, Issue 1, 2011; and: A History of Early Television, Volume 1 (Routledge 2004), edited by Stephen Herbert.

‘Goaheadison’s Real Latest’, Fun, 17 July 1889, p. 24.

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Back of one panel

Three Hundred Things a Bright Boy Can Do

identifier: 2014042 THREEHUNDRED

In the late 1950s and early ’60s, I was fascinated by many projects in the ‘Things a Boy Can Do / Make’ genre of boys’ books, ancient and modern. Edwardian examples came from church jumble sales at a penny or tuppence each, more modern books – Hundreds of Things a Boy Can Make, and a host of variants – were presents. I didn’t distinguish between them, though some of the projects I attempted came unstuck due to non-availability of period materials. An early design for a model aeroplane called for a ‘whalebone from a corset’. My mum just shook her head, and I never did find a suitable substitute. Sofia on Yahoo! Answers says of whalebone for corsets: ‘I’ve read that the average pressure on a corset, even from the tiniest teenage waist, would be about 80 lb (about 40kg I think). Before, they used wood in the corsets, the whale bone must have been a better material to withstand the unbelievable forces when the corsets were tightened so much, and to make it as comfortable as possible at the same time. I read a lot about corsets and history.’) As someone who currently builds model aircraft, I have no idea what part a corset whalebone could have played in such a construction.

I remember, too, a more modern book that described how to make a raft from some scrap timber lashed to two oil drums. The author stated that he wouldn’t explain how to do the knots, as it would be more fun for each boy to discover the best method for himself. Even at the time I thought this highly irresponsible, and had a vision of the happless boy boatbuilder sailing downstream as his raft fell apart and the pieces floated away while he drowned. Which would have livened up a dull day, but there was no chance to try it out, as our local South London ‘river’ (the Graveney) wasn’t much more than a flooded ditch. Other experiments with chemicals were more successful. I was fond of the one we called Smoke From The Devil’s Fingers. You just take a saucer and a box of matches…. but I dare not give descriptions here. These were truly dangerous books for boys. Three Hundred Things… seems to have been in part the Inspiration for that modern ‘retro’ publication (The Dangerous Book for Boys, 2007), a huge seller crammed with interesting stuff, but disappointingly wimpy – the most dangerous item being ‘Making a Bow and Arrow’. The modern 211 Things a Bright Boy and Do, and 211 Things a Bright Girl Can Do (not to mention 211 Things a Clever Girl Can Do) were evidently also inspired by this book.

I’m offering here an example of the original Edwardian book, which I’m fairly sure I never did own, until recently.

Three Hundred Things a Bright Boy Can Do, by Many Hands.

(Title on cover: 300 THINGS A BRIGHT BOY CAN DO). Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., London. 1910.  [iv] + 438 pages, size 140 x 210mm.

Contents range from Paperchasing (chucking bits of scrap paper all over the countryside) to Ventriloquism and Polyphony, Pets, plus Things Boys Can Make, and a final chapter Concerning Many Things (make your own toffee, or imitate a nightingale). The Editor explains that ‘Too many youths fall into mere aimless dawdling,’ and promises that following the techniques outlined in this book ‘inculcates patience, exactitude, and perseverance’.

Rather too much sporty stuff for me, though I was rather taken with the idea of Sailing on Skates. If I’d eaten the diet listed for a champion walker, I don’t think I’d be able to get up off the sofa. The magic tricks are more appealing, especially Cremated Alive.

Examples of Three Hundred Things a Bright Boy Can Do are quite scarce. The first English edition by Sampson Low & Co., 1910, seems to be held only by the Bodleian, which considered it sufficiently iconic to feature on one of their gift cards. (There was also a 1910 edition published in Toronto by Musson, and not widely held.) Editions of 1911, 1914 and 1919 – probably reprints of the original – are also quite scarce as books (microforms abound) in institutional libraries. A later edition, c.1929 and credited to Harold Armitage, is not common.

As I write, copies of the first edition on Abe, in red/orange decorated cloth, are offered for an optimistic £525.75, and £368.01.

The example offered here, is the first edition (1910) in blue decorated cloth. Condition: Generally good, binding somewhat loose. Age stains to endpapers. Foxing to first few leaves. There is some minor staining to some pages, and small closed tears to the lower margins of several. One page has been re-attached with repair tissue. Some minor wear to the gilt on the cover, and cloth corners. Internal repair to the top of the spine cloth. Prize plate on front board interior.

Price: £95.00, plus postage.


Some Aeronautical Experiments

identifier: 2014031 WRIGHT AND BADEN-POWELL

Some Aeronautical Experiments, by Wilbur Wright. Introduction by Octave Canute. 16 pages plus four (numbered) plates of the Wright Brothers’ gliders (one on each side of two leaves) featuring 8 photographs. Published Washington: Smithsonian 1903.


Recent Aeronautical Progress, an essay by Lord Baden-Powell. 12 printed pages. Published Washington: Smithsonian 1903.

Newly bound in hard covers, cover size: 157 x 235mm.

I find it difficult to write about the early experiments of the Wright Brothers without sounding overly portentous. It seems impossible to overestimate the achievements of these two methodical, determined and self-funded bicycle-makers, who swapped wheels for wings. And it seems ironic that this reprint appeared in the Report of the Smithsonian Institution (published in 1903), which at that time was behind the hugely expensive work (financed by the United States War Department) of Samuel Pierpont Langley, Secretary of the Institution, whose full-size Aerodrome would twice fail on launching, that same year.

It’s fascinating to read Wilbur’s account of the brothers’ initial gliding experiments, written some two years before their first historic powered flight, in a printing that also pre-dates their December 1903 triumph. Always calm and serious in public, we learn of the brothers’ private excitement in their attempts to record their achievements. Wilbur mentions one of the illustrations, commenting: ‘looking at this picture you will readily understand that the excitement of gliding experiments does not entirely cease with the breaking up of camp. In the photographic darkroom at home we pass moments of thrilling interest as any in the field, when the image begins to appear on the plate and it is yet an open question whether we have a picture of a flying machine or merely a path of open sky.’ He predicts: ‘It is probably that an engine of 6 horsepower, weighing 100 pounds, would answer the purpose. Such an engine is entirely practicable.’ In the event, their first engine weighed 170 lbs, giving 12 hp.

There are some basic equations that most readers will skip, and quite a lot about centers of pressure and angles of incidence, but the technical jargon – it seems that “rudder” refers to what we now call an elevator – is mostly accessible, and doesn’t limit this text to the specialist.

Baden-Powell’s article reviews current progress in both balloons and gliding, anticipating the potential of the powered aeroplane. ‘Primarily, it would form an incalculably valuable engine of war’ – with comments on how such a machine would have been used for reconnaissance in the recent Boer War. ‘If the dropping of explosives on the heads of an enemy is not now considered “fair play” … yet there are many more uses to which the aerial fighter might be put.’ Baden-Powell recognizes the sacrifices that have been made, and will be made, in this dangerous new activity: ‘Perils and dangers loom before us as a skeleton contaminating and haunting our castle in the air.’

The Wright paper first appeared in print in: Journal of the Western Society of Engineers. Chicago.

Octave Chanute ordered 300 offprints of Wilbur Wright’s paper, which he sent to interested parties. (An example of this offprint was estimated at US$30,000-50,000 at a Bonhams sale. Lot 106, The Story of the 20th Century, New York 4 Jun 2014, Auction 21652. )

Wright’s 1901 paper was reprinted in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for 1902. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1903. It seems that there were also offprints of this version of the Wright paper. Also in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution was the essay by Baden-Powell, Recent Aeronautical Progress. (A lot comprising both articles, extracted from the Annual report (not offprints), was estimated at US$500-700, also at Bonhams. The Space History Sale, New York, 26 Apr 2012, Auction 19632, Lot 1004).

I think I’ve got all that right, but don’t quote me.

So…..What’s being offered here is another example of the same printing as the Bonhams Auction 19632, Lot 1004 – i.e. extracted pages from the Annual Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution … For the Year Ending June 30, 1902. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903., Wilbur Wright—Some Aeronautical Experiments, together with The Baden Powell essay Recent Aeronautical Progress – here without the Report’s general title page, but also without library stamps on the plates, which were present on the Bonhams Lot 1004 example. The leaves of both articles have had centre guard strips pasted on, and the signatures sewn into boards covered with black bookcloth.

Good examples of these two early papers – one by Wilbur Wright and one by Baden-Powell – bound together (in the order of the original pagination, Baden-Powell first), providing an opportunity to own a 1903 printing of Wilbur’s hugely important report at a very affordable price.

£48.00 plus postage.Contact: