Thursday, March 10, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

(Above) Jungle Doctor's Case Book by Paul White (1967)

The clear and quirky design & illustration of this cover first attracted me. I expected the contents to be quaint tales of medical missions, which they are. The heavy handed preaching that sets in and clobbers the life out of the stories is tedious however. So, enjoy the cover.

(Above) Flame of the Amazon by Eric Leyland (1952)

 "What he calls fun other people call DANGER"
The inside flap of the dust jacket also proclaims:
 "The boy who doesn't know David FLAME is like the boy who doesn't know 'BIGGLES'"
...which is probably true.

(Above) Tarzan and The Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1918)

Surely, Tarzan's dust jacket artwork and design (above) is unlikely to have been concurrent with the printing of the book itself, in this case 1918. The typeface and amount of bare skin seems anachronistic, wouldn't you say?

The story itself is now culturally bizarre. Tarzan gratuitously kills 3 lions within the first half of the book and other animals are lucky to escape him. Our attitudes towards nature have evolved. The author's continual and breathless adulation of this man-lord-beast-savage - "a majestic man, a noble beast" - is also a strange testament to ideas of machismo.

But I like the covers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vintage Postcards

Vintage Postcard, Picadilly Circus, London (circa 1950's)

(Reverse of above)
Dear Mabel... in Northern Rhodesia.
Notice the social artifact in how Mabel Pringle is addressed as Mrs C. Pringle, likely the initial and surname of her husband.

Vintage Postcard, Montesilvano, Pescara (Italia)

I enjoy the punchy colour in these vintage postcards. More to come.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Well, you may still be on holiday :-). Some lucky sausages still are. I hope you had a good opportunity to change channels in your mind and refresh the parts you otherwise forget.

I enjoyed deep relaxation at a little village on a river by the sea in the Eastern Cape. Our family has gone there for decades and though some parts have changed, others haven't. One side of the river ~ from the rivermouth upstream into the distance as far as you can see ~ has remained covered by indigenous bush for the last 40 years that we've known the place. Just 3 houses dot one hillside. Its so beautiful and peaceful as a result. You don't feel crowded. You don't feel the pressure of relentless development. Instead you can appreciate the value of something that endures and which is therefore, in a sense, timeless.

Above: Tidal marsh, Kariega River, Eastern Cape - South Africa

While on holiday, I found loads of cool bits 'n bobs (vintage circus posters, postcards, 50's novels etc) that make me bollemakiesie, so lots to share over the next few weeks.

To start, enjoy these hip and happening vacation destinations.

Above: 70's postcard for the Ermelo Holiday Inn
(click image to enlarge)

This is a quirky little artifact.
Remember when everything was in two languages? Check out the pool scene. Patterned mens swimsuits. Diving board. Flared jeans. Upper right, relaxing at the bar, she's in a full length floral chiffon ensemble. Neck scarves knotted to the side. Shirts open halfway down the chest. And you just know its polyester.
Upper left, the dining room, its all about hair... and lapels.
Bottom right, notice her red 'n white little striped dress, probably terry cloth. The chunky lamp base. And of course the patterned maxi spread out on the teal and gold bedspread (take a closer look). He wears a slimfit T. Looks like a radio is built into the nightstand. Ermelo really had it all.
Anything else? Maybe just... everybody's white.

Above: 70's postcard ~ Stokkiesdraai-Spa-Motel, Nylstroom

This pool scene kicks Ermelo's butt. Aah, the sexy 70's... sipping Fanta as you relax by the pool in your yellow bikini under sunny skies. A beefy guy in tight white cozzie perusing the tanned bodies and bums laid out in front of him. Kids in the background locked up in some kind of pen.
And at lower left, white-painted rocks, genius.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Victorian Theatre Programme

(Above) A Victorian theatre programme (cover) for 'Sweet Nancy' at the Royalty Theatre
"every evening at 9 o'clock punctually",  gate-folded DL printed on card.
(click image to enlarge)

(Above) Inside Spread
(click image to enlarge)

(Above) Detail: El-Ancor dinner claret advertisement

(Above) Detail: Aspinall's Enamel advertisment

(Above) Detail: Dr Duncan's advertisment

And just in case, you were wondering what mouilla soap is, 
the following comes from "The Nursing Record & Hospital World", Oct 6, 1897
(courtesy of

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aah, symmetry.

Above: a Japanese bowl. Wooden base, bamboo lattice.

More space than matter...

Some objects elegantly access the essence of what we call beautiful.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Voortrekker Kitsch

Found in my archives, I originally spotted this item at a local market. The border, main lettering and outlines are a glittery silver - like crushed tinfoil just below the glass. It may well be a glass painting actually, created by painting in reverse directly on the back of the glass.

The building featured is the Voortrekker Monument, a solid (and stolid) symbol of the Great Trek undertaken by early white 'Afrikaner' settlers. The flags are those of the early Afrikaner republics. The wording "Op die pad van SA ~ die bou van 'n nasie" means "On the road of South Africa ~ the building of a nation".

For non-South Africans, this is culturally like Confederate imagery. I have a few pieces of Trek kitsch in my home and was tempted to buy this one because its so distinct, exemplary in a way. Laden with nationalist symbols, its cultural and visual weight seemed just too heavy though. I guess that's cultural baggage.

Even without any explanation of language, culture, origins, I believe you would have a clear sense of the kind of message this imagery conveys. Flags, a monument, flaming torches. This is what nationalism thrives on, be it Soviet, American, Chinese or South African.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ratatouille End Titles - Retro Design (Ratro design?)

Pixar pays homage to illustration of another era with this retro end credit sequence.