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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