Sunday, 28 July 2013

Watching the new sculpture of a large blue cockerel being lifted into place on the spare plinth in Trafalgar Square, reminded me of this lovely book find picked up earlier this year (see photo left). It is only a simple board book but the colours on the front board are still very vivid. Inside, the book is packed with small line drawings, mainly of cats. The inside front board has the following handwritten dedication' This is the first prize that Samuel Brown has ever had at the age of 3 years, 9 months....'. I have reproduced my listing information below. 

 Comical Doings

Published by Ernest Nister, London.

 Not dated but estimate 1890 -1900. 

24 pages. 18.5cm x 13.5cm. Numbered 1534
Printed in Bavaria.
Unrecorded edition on COPAC.
Ernest Nister (1842 - 1909) set up a publishing company in Nuremberg in 1877 and opened a London office in 1888, although the printing of his books continued to be carried out in Nuremberg. He published about 500 illustrated books for children but from 1890 the company produced almost exclusively either toy or moveable books. The publishing company ceased in 1916.

The book contains a selection of unattributed short poems and is illustrated throughout in black and white. Frontispiece is a tipped in colour plate, which is now almost all stuck down and is missing a very small corner. Most of the illustrations are of cats, with one double page being by Louis Wain (1860 - 1939) and a few other illustrations by William Foster (1853 - 1924). Most of the illustrations are unsigned.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Wind in the Pines.

A Celtic Miscellany

Illustrated by Andrew Kay Womrath (1869 -1939), John Duncan (1866 - 1945), Charles Mackie (1862 - 1920) and others

Published by T N Foulis Ltd in 1922.
 48 unpaginated pages. 19.5cm x 26cm

I picked up this book recently, intrigued by the illustrations, which seemed particularly beautiful and at a quick glance seemed quite Beardsley like in style. A bit of research later and I managed to learn that the book had been produced to raise funds for the Outlook Tower (Camera Obscura) in Edinburgh.The Outlook Tower had been purchased by a Patrick Geddes in 1892 to enable visitors to properly view the surrounding landscape. A bit more research told me that Geddes could be properly described as a polymath, being an accomplished botanist, town planner and a pioneer of ecology and sociology. He was born in Dundee and was regarded as a guru to the artist John Duncan, also born in Dundee, who is also represented in this book. Both men were very much at the heart of  the Celtic Revival movement in Scotland. Patrick Geddes was knighted in 1932.
The Wind in the Pines is a lovely hardback book with embossed gilt decoration in an arts and crafts style. The book contains 10 full page black and white illustrations together with headpieces ( some by John Duncan) and ornaments and a selection of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson, Fiona Macleod, Sir Noel Paton, Rosa Mullholland, Earl of Southesk and others.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Katharine Cameron
1875 -1965
The Garden Books by Edward Augustus Bowles (1865 -1954)

Edward Bowles was one of the 20th Century's great gardeners, largely self taught but by 1916 had been awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society and has 42 plants named after him. He wrote three books about his garden; My Garden in Spring, My Garden in Summer (both published in 1914), and My Garden in Autumn and Winter (published in 1915). They have been reprinted many times and are still in print today. The bindings for the first editions were designed by Katharine Cameron (1874 - 1965) and are signed with either her initials 'KC' or as ' K Cameron' on the lower part of the front board. Cameron studied at the Glasgow School of Art (1890 -1893) and was an accomplished artist, illustrator and close friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald. The binding for ' My Garden in Autumn and Winter' is particularly stunning and I love the use of colour and the trail of petals which is repeated on the spines. I presume that she must have been a friend of Bowles, as she is known for her flower paintings as well as her interest in flowers and it would be lovely to know more. The bindings are probably her lesser known works and as such can be picked up fairly cheaply still. The books are lavishly illustrated throughout by artists of the day (although not by Katharine Cameron).

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Katharine Cameron
(1874 -1965)

Katharine Cameron (1874 - 1965) studied at the Glasgow School of Art (1890 -1893) and was an accomplished artist, illustrator and close friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret MacDonald. She remains a perennially popular artist and illustrator. I have concentrated here on the fairy tale books she illustrated, but she did do so much much more, which will be explored further at some point. Her romantic images did much to popularise Scottish and Irish legends to a generation of children who were now able to afford the fairly cheap colour editions published by Thomas Nelson, Blackie & Son and T C & E C Jack at the turn of the twentieth century. I have included an example of a deluxe gilt binding sold earlier this year.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Silver Studio

Harry Napper ( 1867 - 1930)

I really enjoy collecting Silver Studio bindings, primarily because they are still very cheap, but I think I was originally drawn to the designs because of the simple symmetrical design. A bit about the Silver Studio though. The Silver Studio was established in Hammersmith, London in 1880 by Arthur Silver (1853 -1896) and primarily produced designs for wallpaper and textiles for a large range of manufacturers, but particularly Liberty and Co, Warner & Sons and G.P & J Baker and became enormously successful. One of the most famous designers in the Studio (and I will blog later about the others, who were all without exception, very talented) was Harry Napper (born 1867 in Spaxton, Somerset) who joined in about 1891. On the death of Arthur Silver, Napper took over the management of the studio in 1896. The Studio also produced commissioned book cover designs for Blackie & Son Ltd based in Scotland. Interestingly, Arthur Silver was born in Reading and his family had an upholstery business in the centre of town, as did at the same time co incidentally the grandfather and father of Talwin Morris (1865 -1911)Art Manager at Blackie & Son Ltd which is worthy of more research and may explain the relationship between the two companies. It would be interesting to know how many Blackie books were designed by the Studio and I have always meant to take myself to the Silver Studio archives held in Middlesex University. Harry Napper died in Clapham, London in 1930.

Talwin Morris

Thought it might be a good idea to start putting in to some order the hundreds of Talwin Morris design images sitting on my computer. I have serial designs dotted all over the place that I have used on ebay listings but it is crying out for some sort of a reference book to be created. Apart from anything else, there is a lot of misinformation kicking around, so Ethel Larcombe and Silver Studio designs are often listed as Talwin Morris. I will list Silver Studio designs that I am collecting in a separate blog - there is so much and again another reference book is needed. Hard pressed to know where to start really but I will start with a favourite early work as it also contains some simple line drawings inside by Talwin Morris. This edition of 'The Whispering Winds' by Mary Debenham was published in 1895, so one of his earlier binding designs and particularly cherished as has a title page illustration by Morris as well. The binding design reminds me slightly of Arthur Hughes and I love the swirling hair.