ARK – as a new book is published, we offer the first 13 issues

Last June, the Royal College of Art published a book celebrating the College’s journal, ARK. I’ll let the RCA website provide more details.

‘Royal College of Art Critical Writing in Art & Design students have produced a celebratory book exploring the College’s historic and influential visual arts journal, ARK.  ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978 … is a wide-ranging anthology of articles and images from the College’s long-running ARK magazine – an influential presence in British cultural life.  CWA&D students have selected and  curated material from ARK’s 54 issues, spanning nearly three decades, to give a snapshot of its bold and fast-changing design, and extraordinary cast of writers and artists that helped propel it to international attention. This new publication features a complete run of ARK covers in full colour including designs by Len Deighton and Alan Fletcher; a preface from design critic Rick Poynor; and a full index of the magazine’s content throughout its duration, as well as rare texts and classic image essays. Together, the material offers a vivid overview of the changing attitudes and approaches to art and design in Britain in an age of considerable flux.  ARK, a style and design journal created by RCA students, was part of an era of cultural transformation across fashion, film, television, advertising, newspapers and magazines. Such was the stature of ARK that it drew contributions from creative luminaries including Ralph Rumney, Lucio Fontana, Alison and Peter Smithson, Toni del Renzio and Reyner Banham. In his preface, Rick Poynor describes this influence:  ‘…ARK has become a vivid historical document. It records, narrates, evokes and recalls its moment (or succession of moments) with energy, eloquence and insight. There were other contemporary British magazines about visual subjects with elements of content or design in common – Motif, Typographica, the short-lived Uppercase, even The Architectural Review – but…none of them could match ARK’s twists and turns, its visual conceits and coups de théâtre, or its eclecticism of content during its heyday from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s.’ ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950-1978, designed by Jorg Schwertfeger (MA Visual Communication, 2014) and priced at £15.’

You won’t be able to buy it from Amazon (hooray!) but search online, and you’ll find it available from a real bookseller, including the RCA.

Coincidentally, Neverseen is pleased to offer a run of:

ARK: the Journal of the Royal College of Art. The first thirteen issues. No.13 is subtitled The Journal of Design and Fine Art. Size: approx 238 x 178mm. No.1 has b/w illustrations, all other issues have illustrations in both colour and b/w. Details of condition listed below. I have taken two issues to illustrate interior layouts, to give some idea of the wonderful contents of this collection. All front covers are illustrated at the end of this post.

The illustration of Figureheads from the National Maritime Museum is by Valerie Brook (now Falla). Sixty years on, she’s still producing and exhibiting great artworks. A print of one of Val’s scenes of Hastings hangs on a wall at home as I write this, brightening our mornings. I spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she told me of the arrangement with ARK. “The art editor would approach a student whose style of illustration might suit a particular article in the magazine. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it’s interesting now to look back…” Valerie looks at her work from that time, which seems to me to reflect an already very mature talent, as a somewhat detached and bemused observer – “Look at how I angled that head!” – and with genuine modesty. Before starting at the RCA, Val’s drawings had won a prize of £100 from Punch – a useful sum that went towards her RCA fees – and I was treated to a view of some of her delightful artwork for the competition.

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In 1970 or 71, artist / robot-maker, collector, performer and archetypal British eccentric Bruce Lacey put on a show at the National Film Theatre, entitled ‘Bruce Lacey Exposes Himself’. It was a wonderfully rambling exposition of his obsessions, with films of his machines and ‘collections of random junk’– including a screening of Ken Russell’s The Preservation Man (1962) (which is here, if it’s still there), and jumpy home movie footage of his aunt walking her dog, taken on 9.5mm film decades earlier. I was technician for the show. Bruce arrived with a 45rpm disc. “I wanted the recording to sound old,” he explained, “so I buried it in the garden for a while.” It still had mud in the grooves, but I risked damaging our record player stylus. That isn’t Lord Tennyson you hear supposedly emanating from the cylinder player in the BBC Monitor film, it’s Bruce (imitating a faded recording of the great poet), wearing a ‘Sgt. Pepper’ jacket years before the Beatles latched on. I remember that Lacey’s NFT show was my first experience of arranging a radio mic. Unrestrained by cables Bruce darted among the audience as he commented on the images on the screen, and in-between clips, with a non-stop monologue of observations, ruminations and fears. “I always look in a toilet bowl first,” he explained to the audience at one point, probably apropos of nothing. “Spiders lurk there, and then they crawl up your bum.” (Audience laughter.) “They do!” I’m happy to learn that Bruce is still exposing himself all over the country. Lacey’s contribution to the issue of ARK included here was a short piece, a double-page spread explaining his collecting mania, illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings of his “forlorn objects”, including a grouping of eight magic lanterns – long before such items started to be seriously sought out by more conventional collectors. The way he treats his “stuff” is outrageously uncuratorial and delightfully refreshing.

The ARK layouts are beautiful, and the text engaging with no waffle or padding. The advertisements are in themselves attractive, no doubt helped by a succession of Advertising Managers who were top-flight budding artists. In recent years I was privileged to know Bob Falla, a fine talent who served on ARK in that capacity for a while. I could go on writing forever about these wonderful magazines and the memories they evoke, but I have to stop here. The covers of the thirteen issues offered here are shown below.
Condition: Most copies have some minor foxing and spotting to some pages, not very evident except where noted below. A few finger marks, and fading to some spines.

1. Foxing to covers, noticeable on the back. 2. Minor foxing to covers. Small stain to very edge of top right of several pages. 3. Foxing to covers, and last page. Staining (coffee) to top corner / outer margin of most pages. This has been treated. 4. Foxing to cover, noticeable on the back. 5. Foxing to covers. Stain to outer margin, last 10 pages and back cover. 6. Foxing to covers. 7. Foxing to covers, noticeable on back. 8. Back cover has a flattened fold. 9. Foxing to covers, stain to top margin last 10 pages and inside back cover. 10. Noticeable foxing to covers. Small top corner fold to front cover. 11. Some spotting to spine. 12. Back cover rather soiled. 13. Foxing to covers and first few pages. Top of spine bumped.

Price: £250.00 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

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X-rays prove Van Gogh forgeries that shock the art world, a Matisse nude causes a row, Spike Milligan intervenes over free television licenses for OAPs and a stolen ‘James Bond’ Goya, and a National Gallery cleaning scandal leads to an offer of resignation.

[SOLD]

This is a complicated post, so pay attention please.

Manuel de la conservation et de la restauration des peintures. Office International des musées. Publications de l’institute International de Cooperation Intellectuelle
2, Rue de Montpensier, Paris. 1939. 310pp, b/w illustrations.

London, April 1939.
To Philip Hendy from his ever grateful Helmut R.

In April 1939 the German restorer of paintings Helmut Ruhemann (1891-1973) dedicated a copy of a book that he’d been involved with, a manual on the restoration of paintings, to Philip Hendy, then Director of Leeds City Art Gallery. This copy of the manual is being offered here, together with a set of carbon typescripts relating to a forgery case, and a set of printed sheets which include reports of a famous art theft, marked up for editing into a continuous narrative about the theft. Together, these three items comprise an interesting record of major events in the professional life of Sir Philip Hendy, Director of the National Gallery, London, 1946-1967.

Hendy, Philip [Anstiss], Sir (1900-1980)
Hendy attended Christ Church, Oxford, graduating in 1923 in modern history. That year, with no training in art, he was appointed assistant to the keeper (curator) of the Wallace Collection, assigned to research objects for the catalogue. His work there and articles in the Burlington Magazine so impressed officers of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston that Hendy was contracted to live in Italy for three years, to research the Gardner catalogue. In 1930 he was appointed curator of paintings for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. [adapted from http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/hendyp.htm].

At this time, the notorious Wacker forgeries case was coming to a head.
Otto Wacker (1898–1970) was a German art dealer who became infamous for commissioning and selling forgeries of paintings by Vincent van Gogh; probably the work of his brother, the painter and restorer Leonhard Wacker. Otto Wacker managed to convince prominent Van Gogh experts that the paintings he was selling were genuine. The experts accepted his tall tale that a Russian had bought the paintings, and transferred them to Switzerland illegally. Experts understood the need for this Russian to remain anonymous in order to protect relatives who still lived in the Soviet Union. Wacker’s paintings were to be exhibited in January 1928 in Berlin, in an exhibition organized to coincide with the publication of de la Faille’s standard catalogue of Van Gogh’s work. When Wacker delivered the last four paintings, the managers of the exhibition recognized them as fakes. Further investigation revealed 33 suspect paintings, all of them supplied by Wacker. Galleries that had sold his paintings asked their customers to return them. During the trial in 1932, experts did not come to full agreement on which paintings were authentic (and the argument was to continue in some circles for years afterwards). However, it was found that pigments used in the paintings were different from those Van Gogh had used. Art restorer Kurt Wehlte showed with X-rays that the painting techniques were different (although he used a painting that would be declared a forgery in the 1970s). Later it was found that the paintings were not on French canvases. Wacker was charged with fraud, and after an appeal, sentenced to 19 months in prison and a heavy fine. [adapted from Wikipedia]

Perhaps Hendy’s interest was first whetted by a review of the Van Gogh Catalogue Raisonne, published in the June 1928 issue of The Burlington Magazine (Number 303 – Volume 52), in which the young curator had an article on another subject. The typescript carbon that’s being offered here is Hendy’s later account of the affair, Technical Testing Methods and Van Gogh Falsifications. Retrospections on the Wacker case, detailing his own observations as the result of extensive examinations of many Van Gogh paintings that were universally accepted as genuine, and the Wacker canvases. The date of the typescript is not known. To continue with our Hendy chronology:

At Boston, all was not well. Hendy’s purchase of Matisse’s nude Carmelina (1903) in 1933 – which at the time must have been a rather challenging painting for many – brought about a major dispute with the conservative Trustees and Hendy resigned. He returned to Britain and in 1934 accepted the director position at the Leeds City Art Gallery, supervising the evacuation of the collection to Temple Newsam House during World War II. In 1946, Sir Kenneth Clark resigned as director of the National Gallery and Hendy succeeded him. When the Gallery’s paintings were returned from their safe-storage after the War, he ordered many cleaned – much of it done by Helmut Ruhemann, (1891-1973). It was Ruhemann who, in 1939, had presented Hendy with a copy of the French manual on painting restoration, (now part of this lot). Trouble was brewing again. Accusations of over-cleaning a number of paintings were made by the artist Sir Gerald Kelly in The Times, and the Trustees set up the Weaver Committee to investigate. Hendy was cleared of wrong-doing. But the spotlight would fall on him once again, a dozen years later. [informed by material on Wikipedia]

In 1961 Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington was stolen from the Gallery just weeks after it had been acquired – the thief or thieves entered and left through a window in the Gents – and Hendy again had to justify his administration. Sandy Nairne outlines what happened next. The culprit explained, ‘My sole object in all this was to set up a charity to buy television licenses for old and poor people who seem to be neglected in an affluent society.’ In February 1962 the Sunday Telegraph carried a piece reporting that the theft was to do with controversial restoration policies at the gallery. In December 1963 the New Statesman reported, ‘Spike Milligan would like to meet those who have the missing Goya … He sympathises with them and would like to attempt to meet them with a view to raising money independently … to be donated to a charity of their choosing.’ The perpetrator, disabled pensioner Kempton Bunton who had been fined three times for tv licence evasion, later encouraged National Gallery Chairman, Lord Robbins, to ‘assert thyself and get the damn thing on view again. I am offering three pennyworth of old Spanish firewood, in exchange for £140,000 of human happiness.’ [adapted from: How Goya’s Duke of Wellington was stolen]. The theft entered popular culture, referenced in the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No where it was on display in Dr. Julius No’s lair. The Daily Mirror got involved in attempts to have it returned, but eventually Bunton sent the painting back (via a ‘long-haired teddy-boy lolling in Birmingham Station’) and then, certain that an accomplice was about to turn him in for the reward, gave himself up and got a three-month sentence.

The acquisition, theft, and return of the painting are dealt with in detail in the pages extracted from official published reports of The National Gallery, January 1960-May 1962; and January 1965-December 1966, part of the lot offered here.

Hendy retired from the National Gallery in 1967. His Wikipedia page concludes: ‘Hendy’s generation of museum officials was the last one in Britain where amateurs, well-educated but self-taught in art history could immediately move into museum curation. His natural eye led him to many astute observations and a few prejudices (he disliked the Pre-Raphaelites).’

It seems there’s currently a PhD student working on the subject of Sir Philip.

‘Sir Philip Hendy (1900-1980) director and scholar in Leeds and London 1934-1967: the acquisition and display of art and curatorial practices in ages of austerity.University of Leeds/The National Gallery, London. This AHRC-funded PhD studentship will research the curatorial practices of Sir Philip Hendy (1900-1980), Director of The National Gallery (1946-67) after holding the Directorship of Leeds Museums & Galleries (1934-46). An investigation of Hendy as museum-director is an opportunity for an enhanced understanding of the history of two key institutions and their role in the public display and interpretation of artworks as well as an assessment of the changing relationships between regional and national art museums. The focus on Hendy will provide an important case study for the history of curatorship and its political, social and cultural contexts, further illuminating the significance of the changing methods and practices of museum curatorship in times of economic, political and social crisis.’

The items offered here were auctioned at Batemans in January 2013, where the provenance was given as ‘from the Estate of the late Carlo Curley’ (an internationally renowned organist, who died in 2012).

Lot of three items:

Book:
Manuel de la conservation et de la restauration des peintures. Office International des musées. Publications de l’institute International de Cooperation Intellectuelle
2, Rue de Montpensier, Paris. 1939. 310pp, b/w illustrations. Hard covers, half-bound in cloth and paper. Size: 186 x 231mm. Quite scarce. Condition: generally good. Minor paint marks on one page. Some wear and age yellowing to cover and spine, spine covering weak at head and bottom. The free-endpapers are tanned/foxed.

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Article, typescript carbon or reprographic copy:
Technical Testing methods and Van Gogh Falsifications. Retrospections on the Wacker case. [n.d.] 16 single-sided pages, thin paper. Size: 206 x 292mm. Condition: some fraying to paper edges, folds, first page of text somewhat faded but easily readable. Some rust marks from paper clips. I can find no record of any article about this subject, written by Philip Hendy, being published. This is perhaps the only copy of an interesting article detailing his observations about the case.

Printed report:
Return of Goya’s Duke of Wellington. 16 leaves, various paginations, comprising printed reports on Theft of Goya’s ‘Duke of Wellington’, and Return of Goya’s ‘Duke of Wellington’, extracted from official published reports of The National Gallery, January 1960-May 1962; and January 1965-December 1966. Size: 190 x 255mm. A label with the address of the author’s agent Joyce Weiner Associates pasted on the lower margin. The pages include material (reports) not related to the Goya painting, and these have been struck through in ink. Clearly, the text that remains was intended as a guide for the Goya story to be reprinted as a complete article. I haven’t been able to trace any publication details for such an article but it’s possible that it was published. Condition: paper is generally good, with blue ink numbering, ink deletions, and other ink markings. Staple now removed.

Even without its fascinating provenance, the Manuel de la conservation would be of interest to anyone involved in museum studies, art restoration and conservation, the history of museum collecting, or the development of x-ray technology. The book illustrates examples of paintings that have been cleaned; the subject that would get Hendy into hot water many years later.  Just at the time Europe’s top specialists were combining their efforts to research and publish material intended to help protect our visual heritage, a War was about to start that would threaten the very existence of the paintings in their care. The other two items make very absorbing reading, illuminating major aspects of international museum and art gallery culture in the 20th century.

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

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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

The First World War in (real) Colour

identifier: BATTLE OF MARNE 2014071

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“Le portfolio-photo-couleurs” Les Champs de Bataille de la Marne. Photographies directes en-couleurs (Fac-similes sans retouches de plaques autochromes). Text et illustrations de Gervais-Courtellement. L’edition Française illustrée. 30 rue de Provence, Paris. 1915 edition [originally published in parts, in 1914-15]. Half-leather binding. 196 pages.

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This is a scarce and historic, large (320 x 240mm) book of colour photographs taken during and shortly after the Battle of the Marne. These images were projected by magic lantern, at the “Palais de l’autochromie” in Paris. Tomorrow it will be 100 years to the day that the battle ended.

My generation grew up immersed in documentary images of both World Wars, in black-and-white. I remember being amazed by the colour footage of WW2 that gradually emerged during the ‘80s in particular. I wrote a review of Victory in Europe by Max Hastings (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985) for the British Journal of Photography. It’s a book filled with haunting images – frame enlargements from Kodachrome footage shot by American director George Stevens as his troupe moved through France and into Germany. Later, television programmes such as The Second World War in Colour (1999) made such material much better known, though the visual veracity was later diluted with World War II in Colour (2008/9), which included much colourised footage. These programmes were followed by the inevitable World War 1 in Colour, with exclusively colourised scenes. Genuine colour stills of the First World War have featured in many books in recent years, including Taschen’s recent The First World War in Colour by Peter Walther, which includes autochromes by Jules Gervais-Courtellemont. Inevitably, as time goes by these genuine colour images will be subsumed into the plethora of colourised pictures of WW1 that have been created recently, the special qualities of these poignant autochromes lost to most who see them.

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The Battle of the Marne (French: Première bataille de la Marne) (also known as the Miracle of the Marne) was a First World War battle fought from 5–12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August, which had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. The counterattack of six French field armies and the British Expeditionary Force (‘BEF’) along the Marne River forced the German Imperial Army to abandon its push on Paris and retreat north-east, leading to the ‘Race to the Sea’ and setting the stage for four years of trench warfare on the Western Front. The battle was an immense strategic victory for the Allies, wrecking Germany’s bid to ‘unhinge’ the Verdun-Marne-Paris line in their first campaign of the war and forcing them to breach it directly in their next campaign against France.

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The Autochrome is an early additive colour photography process patented in 1903 by the Lumière brothers in France. First marketed in 1907, it was the principal colour photography process in use before the advent of subtractive color film in the mid-1930s. A glass plate is coated with a random mosaic of microscopic grains of potato starch dyed red-orange, green, and blue-violet, which act as colour filters. Lampblack fills the spaces between grains, and a black-and-white panchromatic silver halide emulsion is coated on top of the filter layer. The use of an additional orange-yellow filter in the camera was required to block ultraviolet light and restrain the effects of violet and blue light, parts of the spectrum to which the emulsion was overly sensitive. The plate was first developed into a negative image but not “fixed”. The silver forming the negative image was chemically removed, and the remaining silver halide exposed to light and developed, producing a positive image. When viewed by transmitted light, each bit of the silver image acted as a micro-filter, allowing more or less light to pass through the corresponding colored starch grain, recreating the original proportions of the three colors. At normal viewing distances, the light coming through the individual grains blended together in the eye, reconstructing the colour of the light photographed through the filter grains. The plates were viewed by projection, or on a light box. The mosaic of glowing dots on glass gives autochromes the look of pointillist paintings. [adapted from Wikipedia and other online sources.] In recent years, there has been a revival of interest. Groups in France, working with the original Lumière machinery and notes, and a few individuals in the United States, are attempting to recreate the process. Very few complete successes have resulted. Recently, the process was recreated by the photographer Frédéric Mocellin.

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Jules Gervais-Courtellemont (1863–1931) was a French photographer, famous for taking autochromes during World War I. He was born in the province of Seine-et-Marne, near Paris, but grew up in Algeria, where he developed a passion for the pre-colonial Orient and devoted most of his professional career in search of the exotic. In 1894 converted to Islam prior to making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Images collected in Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, India, Morocco and China formed the basis for his popular illustrated lectures, which he illustrated with lantern slides. With the outbreak of World War I, Courtellemont returned to his home province to record the war. In 1911, Courtellemont had opened the “Palais de l’autochromie” in Paris – an exhibition hall, studio, laboratory, and lecture hall with a seating capacity of 250. Courtellemont would project his autochromes both of the Orient and, after 1914, of the war, particularly the Marne battlefields. These lectures proved to be so popular that Courtellemont issued a twelve-part series later bound in book form called The Battle of Marne and later a four-part series entitled The Battle of Verdun. These are the first books about war ever published in colour. Courtellemont’s work displays a tight sense of composition, an acute awareness of the interplay of light on color, and a haunting familiarity of symbolism. Landscapes are carefully composed, with due attention to lighting and placement within the picture frame. He used symbols such as the lonely cross and the charred tree for dramatic effect. [adapted from Wikipedia]. The most noteworthy book about his work is by B. De Pastre and E. Devos (eds.), Les couleurs du voyage: L’oeuvre photographique de Jules Gervais-Courtellemont (published in 2002).

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To quote from Wikipedia: ‘Vintage reproductions of Autochromes in old books and magazines have often been noticeably hand-adjusted by the photoengravers in an effort to compensate for some of the difficulties of reproduction, and as a result they sometimes look more like hand-colored photographs than “natural color” ones.’ – so it’s interesting that the publishers of Les Champs de Bataille de la Marne state “fac-similes sans retouches”.

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All pictures in the book are in colour. There are illustrations on every double-page spread – and all but a few (maps) are autochromes of the Marne area, soldiers, and war damage. I do not scan books where this might damage the binding, so I have photographed the pages, and have made every effort to present the illustrations here as they appear on the page, without enhancement. Click on an image to see it enlarged. Odd numbers of the original twelve separate parts can be found in dealers’ lists and French bookshops, but the bound volume is scarce. This historic volume, printed almost a century ago while the battles of WW1 were still raging, would be a very attractive addition to any collection relating to colour photography, colour printing, French history / topography, or military history.

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Condition: Better than good. All pages in a good state, with very few marks, a small closed tear to one page only. Small mark on title page. Binding becoming visible at the gutter, in two places that I could see. Some stains and minor marks and wear to the cover, including slightly bumped corners, wear to top and bottom of spine covering. Empathic repair to leather at bottom right corner of front cover. Small nick to one side of the inset cover photo. Now in protective Mylar sleeve.

Price: £95.00 plus postage       s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Communication – Fifty years on

identifier: 2014043 COMMUNICATION CHERRY

I have a real problem when two conversations are going on at once (due to tinnitus). After a short while, I see the lips of the person I’m trying to listen to moving, but the meaning isn’t being absorbed. The study of the extraordinary capacity of (undamaged) humans to filter the relevant audio, known as the ‘Cocktail party problem’ (or in my case, the ‘Noisy pub problem’) – a task that machines find much more difficult – was a specialism of Professor [Edward] Colin Cherry (1914-1979). During the Second World War, Cherry worked on radar research, and in 1952 took sabbatical leave from Imperial College spending six months in the United States at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he worked with Jerry Weisner and Norbert Weiner and others interested in communication.

Cherry’s most influential books include On Human Communication (1957) and World Communication: Threat or Promise (1971). In 1978 he was awarded the Marconi International Fellowship. He decided to use this to write a book, provisionally entitled A Second Industrial Revolution? He completed only three chapters and the Preface before his death. One of his former students, William E. Edmondson, collected his material and completed it, publishing it as The Age of Access: Information Technology and Social Revolution. [adapted from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Colin_Cherry]

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Communication. An introduction to Information Technology by Professor Colin Cherry. British Broadcasting Corporation, 1964. 24 pages plus paper cover. Size: 210 x 134mm.

“Unlike machine learning, deep learning is mostly unsupervised. It involves, for example, creating large-scale neural nets that allow the computer to learn and “think” by itself without the need for direct human intervention.” Luke Dormehl, 2014.

“…information handling machines are being evolved along principles closely simulating certain actions of the nervous system, of such complexity and novelty of behaviour that the term ‘machine’ seems scarcely suitable. There seems no conceivable limit to their possible development.” Colin Cherry, 1964

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In 1964 Cherry gave a series of lectures about Communication, on BBC Television. This is the accompanying booklet which, appropriately, is carefully designed to communicate clearly the subjects under discussion. The text is prescient one moment, the next – hopelessly outdated by subsequent events. On the inside cover the Professor is seen in London, talking to a conference in Boston via Telstar satellite. Very cutting edge – though the design of the telephone (which seems to belong to an earlier period, but was of course still standard in the ‘60s) rather lets the side down.

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I wonder whether the programmes survive? As Google Brain battles with Microsoft’s Adam, this booklet provides a very useful precis to the thinking of those communicators who were at the front end of communication theory and research in the early 1960s. No copies on Amazon, as I write.

Contents:

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Condition; Good.

Price: £10.00 plus postage. s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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The Cyclist, 1889 – 1900

identifier: CYCLIST 1889-1890 [SOLD]

One day in the mid-1960s, as I pedalled along the A23 I was overtaken by a man riding a penny-farthing bicycle. Curious as to what would happen when he reached the red traffic lights up ahead, I was impressed by his technique of slowing almost to a stop and then reaching out to the top of the traffic light pole for support until the lights went green, and then somehow shoving off and away. I think that was the last time I saw a cyclist stop at a red light. I never got to ride a penny-farthing (sorry – Ordinary) but some thirty years ago, encouraged by some cyclist ‘friends’, I entered the first (?) mass Annual London to Brighton cycle ride – on a borrowed ladies’ bike that had been made in 1913, and was equipped with one gear. I’d sold my own bike after too many near-misses with Belgian juggernauts on the New Cross one-way system. I was totally unprepared for the 50-mile ride, but none of us would be the first to give up – so we persevered, walking most of the last ten miles. The train brought us home, and that night my legs felt as if they were exploding. I still have a bike, and drag it out every few months for a flat ride, just a mile or two along the coastal path, but I wouldn’t call myself a cycling enthusiast. So I don’t need this wonderful and very rare book:

The Cyclist Christmas Number for 1889 and Year Book for 1890.

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Title page: John Quillpen’s Ride by “F.S.S.” and The Compleat Cycler by Isaac Vaulton. Being “The Cyclist” Christmas Number for 1889 and Year Book for 1890.
Publisher: Illife & Son, 3, Bride Street, Ludgate Circus, London, E.C. and Coventry.
Total page count: 248. With loose-leaf 4-page supplement on blue paper, listing distributors of The Cyclist magazine. Size: 200 x 277mm.

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Contents:

John Quillpen’s Ride
The Compleat Cycler
Resume of Cycling for 1889
Gearing Tables
Racing Calendar for 1889
Who’s Who in Cycling in 1890
The Clubs of the United Kingdom
Volunteer Section
Results of Amateur Championships 1878-89
Tables of Amateur Path Records
Tables of Professional Path Records
Manufacturers, Agents, &c.

Editor: F. Sturmey. The illustrations are by George A W Moore.

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Extremely rare. This isn’t in the British Library, or on WorldCat. The Bodleian might have it, and the Veteran Cycle Club Library has a scanned photocopy with pages missing.

Condition: Generally good, with text block in good condition. Repairs have been kept minimal. Some losses to edges of cover, now professionally repaired with acid-free paper. Sellotape staining to cover. The original binding method was stab-stitching near the left edge of the block, and the cord has now been replaced. The cover has been re-attached with Japanese tissue, and some loss to the lower back strip at the spine repaired. Now in an acid-free paper wallet, in cloth covered boards, ready for your bookshelf.

SOLD.        s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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Bad Day Blotter

identifier: 20140905 BAD DAY BLOTTER     SOLD

The Strange & Wonderful at NeverSeen

Bad Day Blotter

 

I was tempted to title this piece “Mother told me there’d be days like this….” Or perhaps, “It’s safer by aeroplane.” It’s the front cover of a 1928/29 blotter, printed in Germany for the Calendar Manufacturing Co., Bombay.

Some inking of the pink blotting paper, ink marks on back. The image is in very good condition, with just very light marks visible on close examination, plus some small light patches in the sky area (see photo). Where would you find another one?

The ideal gift for the insurance agent who has everything.

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

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Chums – and rhinos

identifier: 2014049 CHUMS 1235

CHUMS No. 1,235 Vol.XXIV May 13, 1916. 14-page story paper (pages 615-628). Size: 230 x 300mm. The cover features the story REPAID IN FULL, A Stirring Yarn of Picture-Hunting in the Wilds, By REGINALD C. FRY, which is continued inside. Cover drawing signed Edwd. Martlew.

I had a letter this week from an elderly friend, telling me about his visit as a young boy – almost 90 years ago – to see With Cherry Kearton in the Jungle (1926) at Clifftonville, Margate, with Kearton presenting on the stage. Being shot by a film crew’s camera wasn’t the greatest danger for African wild animals at that time, including the suspicious rhino that appears in Kearton’s film.

Which brings us to Chums…..

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“…never fear, we’ll bag the finest wild animal pictures the British public has ever seen!”

And in Chapter 3 – The Greatest Film Ever! – they do … a charging rhinoceros that gets shot and killed in the process. The writer explains that the local men who carry out the white man’s bidding are known as “boys”, which then appears in parenthesis throughout. The ‘n-word’ is also used but the writer doesn’t need to explain to young white English boys what that term means. I’m tempted to write something like “thoroughly non-PC in every way”, but that obvious phrase doesn’t cover it, and in any case the way that the terms PC and non-PC have been used has changed over the years, and in themselves now have no clear meaning. What should we do with this old material? I say keep it visible, so that the present generation can begin to understand how the mess that the world is in today was in part created. And maybe this example could help to highlight the continuing plight of rhinos being killed for their horns. Please feel free to use this cover scan for educational blogs (but: I don’t know the copyright status of this image, which probably cannot be formally cleared).

I think they’ve left the shooting a bit late, given the inevitable inertia of a black rhino weight of 3000 lbs or more (twice that for a white rhino).

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Chums was published from 1892 (Cassell) and then Amalgamated (from 1927) until 1941 – monthly from 1932, annually from 1934.

Condition: pages are tanned and fragile, especially at the edges, with nicks and small tears. Centre folds are coming apart (see pictures), where this issue has been removed from a bound volume. Now in an acid-free paper sleeve.

Price: £8.00 plus postage      s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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The Battle of Dorking

identifier: 2014001 BATTLE DORKING

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The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer by [George Tomkyns Chesney]. William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1871. Pamphlet, 64 pages and 8 pages of advertisements, plus cover. ‘Price sixpence’ and ‘From Blackwood’s Magazine May 1871’ on front cover, and 1871 date in roman numerals at foot of title page. Illustration By W. Patterson. Size: 111mm x 169mm.

‘You ask me to tell you, my grandchildren, something about my own share in the great events that happened fifty years ago. ‘Tis sad work turning back to that bitter page in our history, but you may perhaps take profit in your new homes from the lesson it teaches. For us in England it came too late. And yet we had plenty of warnings, if we had only made use of them.’

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells wasn’t the only Victorian fiction to set an invasion in Surrey. The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer is an 1871 novella by George Tomkyns Chesney, starting the genre of invasion literature and an important precursor of science fiction. Written just after the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War, it describes an invasion of Britain by an unnamed country similar to Germany.

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The Battle of Dorking was first published as a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine. After seven reprints of the May issue, the story was printed as a stand-alone pamphlet in June 1871, and later as a hardback. It went through several editions and engaged the interest of soldiers and politicians, as well as the reading public. ‘..with translations into French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese [it] had considerable impact across many areas of British public life, spawned an entire genre of “invasion literature,” and presaged science fiction tales of alien invasion, such as H.G. Wells’ 1898 classic The War of the Worlds.’ [Patrick M. Kirkwood] The version offered here is the pamphlet, the first edition as an independent text.

Chesney was a captain in the Royal Engineers and had grown concerned over the ramshackle state of Britain’s armed forces. He used fiction as a device to promulgate his views after letters and journalism on the issue had failed to impact on the public consciousness. The Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) had just demonstrated the speed, superiority and adaptability of the Prussian Army, which meant that Chesney’s depiction of a fast-moving and determined invader hit a nerve.

The story is told as a narrative by an unnamed veteran who participated in the Battle of Dorking and is recounting the final days before and during the invasion of Britain. It is addressed to his grandchildren as an event fifty years past. Beginning sometime after an event similar to the Franco-Prussian War, concerns grow with the mobilisation of armed forces near the Netherlands. The Royal Navy is destroyed by a wonder-weapon (“fatal engines”), and an invasion force suddenly lands near Harwich, Essex, England. Demilitarisation and lack of training means that the army is forced to mobilise auxiliary units from the general public, led by ineffective and inexperienced officers. The two armies ultimately converge outside Dorking in Surrey, where the British line is cut through by the advancing enemy, and the survivors on the British side are forced to flee. The story ends with the conquest of Britain and its conversion into a heavily-taxed province of the invading empire. The British Empire is broken up, with only Gibraltar and Malta being kept by the victorious Germans. Canada and the West Indies are ceded to the United States, whilst Australia, India and Ireland are all granted independence, with Ireland entering a lengthy civil war as a direct result. [adapted from Wikipedia and other online sources]

‘A little firmness and self-denial, or political courage and foresight, might have averted this disaster, I feel that the judgment must have really been deserved. A nation too selfish to defend its liberty, could not have been fit to retain it. To you, my grandchildren, who are now going to seek a new home in a more prosperous land, let not this bitter lesson be lost upon you in the country of your adoption.’

I would encourage you to read the article by Patrick M. Kirkwood, ‘The impact of fiction on public debate in late Victorian Britain: The Battle of Dorking and the “Lost Career ” of Sir George Tomkyns Chesney’, in Graduate History Review (free download)
http://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/ghr/article/view/10860/3324

Kirkwood explains: ‘In this article, I contend that such an approach overlooks the story’s wider political and cultural significance, and that historians have not yet given Dorking its full due.’

He concludes: ‘In re-examining the career of its creator, Sir George Tomkyns Chesney, we find him to be a rather more substantial figure than is often noted. He was a highly competent and decorated military officer, an educational and military reformer of significant standing in both India and Great Britain, a colonial administrator of some ability, an unusually-independent actor in the factious Victorian British and Indian Armies, and a successful politician. These are no small achievements, and should not be so obscured by the literary fame of the “brilliant skit” for which he is remembered.’

Final words from Dorking Museum’s website:

‘Though its notoriety arose from the concerns of its time – the birth of a unified Germany, the unfitness of the army, and the development of new means of transport and communication – the tale had a long life in public consciousness in both Britain and Germany. In the 1940s a German edition was issued to Hitler’s army under the title ‘Was England Erwartet’: What England Expects.’
http://www.dorkingmuseum.org.uk/the-battle-of-dorking/

A pertinent story to read as we commemorate the First World War.

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Condition: Generally good. “Chesney” is written in ink on title page. The colour of the paper cover is somewhat faded in some areas, and I have made minor professional repairs to the inside edges. I have repaired one corner of the title page. Small paper loss to lower spine (spine rolled), very small tear on front page at sewing. Now in an acid-free paper wallet, in cloth boards, ready for your bookshelf.

Price: £65.00 plus postage    s-herbert@easynet.co.uk

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