Apr 22 2012: Four Hand-Painted Maps Of Socialist Czechoslovakia With Folklore Motifs (CSSR, 1957)

Appearing as endpapers in a 1957 pictorial publication showing early Communist Czechoslovakia these four maps offer a striking contrast – in tone and style, at least – to the photographs making up most of the book. The principle appears to be that the main map (seen above) is then separated into its component parts in … Continue reading

Apr 19 2012: Painting Sunsets by Violet Parkhurst (Walter T Foster Publications, 1960s)

Although it’s something of a cliche to claim the general public neither understands nor likes conceptual art, or contemporary art that doesn’t show evidence of traditional skill, seeing such work as a species of charlatanry, I’m not sure the theory stands up when it’s examined in more detail. The guide to painting sunsets seen above … Continue reading

Mar 28 2012: Sepia-Toned Monochrome Photograph Showing A Swarm Of Bees (Date Unknown)

This undated image of bees swarming has hung around my desk for several years now, pretty much since I found it inside the pages of an old encyclopaedia sometime around 2006. What it shows is both commonplace, insofar as bees form swarms regularly: the sight of one isn’t an everyday occurance, but nor is it … Continue reading

Mar 26 2012: Fifty-One Monochrome Illustrations From Girl Annual Number Nine (1961)

As can be seen below, the differences between the illustrations featured in Girl Annual in 1958 and those of three years later, in 1961, are fairly minimal, considering the social changes that were happening during the same period. True, the girl above is now on holiday in Amalfi rather than Cornwall, but the same escapades … Continue reading

Mar 18 2012: Thirty-Seven Colour Photographs Of America from National Geographic Magazine (1948)

The final gallery culled from the pages of National Geographic in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War features America itself, turning the camera on its own idiosyncrasies and people. Interestingly, the modernity in images from food safety and product testing laboratories is placed in contrast to folksier views of 4-H club participants in … Continue reading

Mar 17 2012: Twenty-Six Colour Photographs Showing Scenes In Belgium And Portugal (National Geographic, 1948)

The penultimate gallery of images from a handful of 1948 issues of National Geographic magazine take us from England, the subject of the first, to its near neighbours Belgium and Portugal, whose landscapes, people and cultures are framed in strikingly similar ways: where England had a dog delivering newspapers, Belgium has then pulling carts of … Continue reading

Mar 16 2012: Twenty-Three Colour Photographs Of India And Saudi Arabia From National Geographic Magazine (1948)

Perhaps this gallery is the most intriguing of the five currently being culled from a series of 1948 issues of National Geographic magazine, partly because one of its subjects, the early years of oil production in Saudi Arabia, prefigures much that happened later in the post-war period. As the poisonous gases in the image above … Continue reading

Mar 15 2012: Thirty Colour Photographs Of Brazil, Grenada, Martinique and Uruguay from National Geographic (1948)

After yesterday’s views of the British Isles from the perspective of post-war America, here’s a further selection of images from a few 1948 issues of National Geographic magazine, this time showing people and scenes from Brazil, Uruguay, Martinique and Grenada (the latter, of course, famously invaded by the US in 1983, though at the time of … Continue reading

Mar 14 2012: Twenty-Eight Colour Images Of England From National Geographic Magazine (1948)

As seen in the pages of America’s National Geographic Magazine three years on from the end of the Second World War, Britain was not the bankrupt victor in a struggle against Fascism, nor a place in a state of decisive transformation as it began the long process of establishing its Welfare State, relinquishing its Empire and Nationalising its key industries. Instead, … Continue reading

Feb 23 2012: Thirteen Abstract and Illustrated Dustjackets from Scientific Book Club Editions (1958 – 1962)

A large collection of these Scientific Book Club editions, dating from the later 1950s and early 1960s, appeared one Sunday morning at the Colwick car boot sale in Nottingham, and covered many more subjects than are represented here. The truth is, while the books were plentiful, some selection was necessary in order to carry those chosen … Continue reading