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

Apr 2 2012: Seventeen Varieties Of Tents Named After British Birds (from Bukta Campedia Catalogue, 1960)

A 1960 edition of the Bukta Campedia – a sort of general catalogue of camping equipment – manages a certain poetry in its adoption of the common names of British birds for its various models of tent, here presented in a hand drawn format, their variations on the temporary architectural theme united by being coloured … Continue reading

Mar 29 2012: Ten Postcards Showing A Variety Of Traditional And Modern Views Of Japan (1960s)

This isn’t the first time Japan has figured here, and earlier representaions were mainly drawn from the envelope of souvenirs collected by a certain Mr Ernest Dring, of Attenborough, Nottinghamshire, who – on the evidence of those contents – had a busy 1964, taking in the Tokyo Olympics and Milan, as a bare minimum in … 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 25 2012: Forty-Three Monochrome Illustrations From Girl Annual Number Six (1958)

If yesterday’s images by Edward Mortelmans from the 1958 edition of Girl Annual seemed to draw inspiration from the paintings of Laura Knight, the forty-three sampled monochrome illustrations seen here have no such unifying element beyond being largely executed in line and wash, and seeming largely unchanged in format from the kind of images that … 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 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 10 2012: A View Of The Thames Looking Towards Tower Bridge Showing Bomb Sites (c.1940s)

There’s something hugely compelling about this undated photograph, which at first glance shows a very familiar view along the River Thames, looking towards Tower Bridge, but on slightly closer inspection reveals some very unfamiliar bomb-sites and gutted buildings in the foreground. The photographer is not identified, but it’s presumably an amateur snap taken from a … Continue reading