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Fish Corks

Woman's Magazine April 1949

As March drips down in to April, Shelf Appeal looks for pictures of lambs frolicking. Of course.

Woman’s Magazine, April 1949 gave good lambs (and a kitten) with this cover, from a painting by Sheila Dunn – artist, cartoonist at Punch and commercial illustrator at Vogue and on products by Quality Street, Cadbury’s and Morley Stockings.

This small magazine is new to me. It is a similar size to contemporary magazines like Lilliput and London Opinion. Similar too in it’s illustrated covers. However there are no sneaky pornographic (or ethnographic, or health and efficiency) pictures in this magazine, unlike those others. Woman’s Magazine had a decidedly nice and advisorial tone.

WikiP tells me the story. The Girl’s Own Paper started in 1880, in 1929 the title became Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine but in 1930 the Woman’s Magazine became a separate publication. This magazine was published by Lutterworth Periodicals Ltd. who also published Boys Own Paper, Heiress, Girl’s Own Paper and The Child’s Companion. There is a Lutterworth Press still going in Cambridge, presumably the same company, I am not sure. Their output looks mainly religious in theme – if not tract in nature – so that fits this.

There is a devotional feature in this April issue called ‘Avoiding the Worm’s Eye View’ but the rest is the usual feminine interest copy on parentcraft, beauty, fashion and cooking – in the form of a recipe for, erm, Fish Corks.

Plants aloud

Hvass and Hannibal Herbarium  fabric textile Heal's

Shelf Appeal doesn’t usually preview things. This is mostly all about the old, tatty, and well used.

But Shelf Appeal has seen the new textiles coming from the venerable old brand Heal’s. Heal’s has, of course, appeared here several times. Shelf Appeal likes old Heal’s things. A lot. Seems Shelf Appeal gets to like new Heal’s things now, too.

Heal’s is amidst a change around. It all got a bit embarrassing and cluttered in there for a while. You wanted to buy things. But you ended up scuttling out annoyed that things had got so bad with a brand once so good.

Amongst the new stuff and nonsense will be textiles (and things made of textiles) in really rather super patterns. At the moment Marimekko is where one goes to get modern textile loveliness. There isn’t a lot of competition in the UK fabric market.

Heal’s has a grand tradition of textiles. They were where textiles were ‘at’ throughout most of the 20th century. Happily their new textiles zing a lot. The design pictured by Hvass and Hannibal Herbarium (a collection of preserved plant specimens dontcha know) is my favourite. They are new to me, these Danish designer-illustrators. But have done some grand things.

Rollup for the rollout on March 1.

Costume Books

Costume Books from Adam & Charles Black

Typical Shelf Appeal, this. Have the paper ‘list’ catalogue but not the books listed. Although I have, over the years, had a few books from the handsome hardback Adam & Charles Black costume series, the illustration style of them usually doesn’t really grab me. But the historical interest of the series does and so a leaflet advertising the series certainly does. I haven’t seen one before for these sorts of books. It has a big stamp on it declaring it was sent out from the bookshop J & E Bumpus Ltd. Grand name.

The illustration on this cover is from Black’s series English Costume from the 10th to the 20th Centuries by Iris Brooke. Presumably the 17th century one. Most in the series were also written by Brooke, but some brought in the inimitable costume prince himself: James Laver.

A review quoted in the leaflet tells us all the books: ‘are inexpensive and they are very complete. The text is adequate without being needlessly elaborate. The reproductions are excellent, and the drawings, without being needlessly stiff or tight, give an excellent idea of dressmaking construction.’

Not much is out there to be found on Brooke herself. Just some 13 books and a (self?) reference to her being an authority on the history of costume. She obviously knew Laver and presumably the other frocks fetishists of the 1920s and 1930s. The prettier Black costume books are the ones illustrated by Kathleen Mann, more camp, more attractive.

The famous 51 socks

1 Jaeger socks vintage booklet cover

I will spare you the empty protest that I don’t collect Jaeger things. It’s obvious – even to me – that I do.

This tiny (6.5 x 11.5cm) booklet is a really effortful piece of promotional material. Nice illustration, witty copy, design and delivery. The slightly mad cover illustration of legs with faces opens to interchangeable flaps depicting men wearing socks. I have always loved those multiple choice flap books. Books whose pages do things are pleasing. If you have to promote a sock, this is no bad way to do it.

The Jaeger 51 sock was no ordinary sock but the ‘sock of socks’ (take a breath): ‘Available in pure botany wool in six and three rib, 11 plain, but interesting, colours, 9 flecked colours, in ankle length, and in knee length. All extraordinarily hard-wearing (nylon reinforcements at heel and toe take care of that) and non-shrink, due to the famous Jaeger shrink-resisting finish.’

The fabulous cover legend ‘Are all men’s legs alike?’ is answered: ‘Yes, all over the world men’s legs (with – let’s face it – individual variations as to size and shape) look good and feel comfy in a pair of Jaeger’s famous 51 socks.’

This is great copy. Each illustration (of a costumed man of the world) is accompanied by a comment. The boozy British cricket chap says ‘ Cheers to 51!’, the Scottish chap “Och Aye, how I treasure ma monny’. The rest are beyond my language skills, but you get the drift.

How did they pack so much into so little? I’d imagine this was a Colman, Prentis and Varley production. They made some of the great advertising stuff of mid last century. And had copywriters like poet Peter Quennell and Fay Weldon.

Just one of the ideas in this little sweetie would make a client happy these days. How perky then Jaeger must have felt when they were offered this.

Jaeger 51 socks vintage booklet spread

Tie one on

Heal's London shop 1920s paper gift tag

An expression that is nice is ‘rarer than hen’s teeth.’ It brings to mind so many interesting images. This little (8 x 5cm) smidgen of paper probably deserves that appellation. How it survived. How someone who found it thought someone else would be daft enough to buy it. How I found it in amongst the many folds of eBay. How it cost very little. How nobody else appeared to want it.

That last is the most puzzling. This is a very lovely little thing, I think. Redolent of all things nice: shopping, design, illustration, ephemera, branding, toys, gifts. It might have been tied to a gift chosen from this Heal’s catalogue.

This may be a small find but interestingly the illustration has been credited to an artist. It would be nice to know who sits behind that ‘DH’.

Heal’s was ever self-conscious of its artistic leanings. They used graphic artists and illustrators and named them. They commissioned poster and textile designs and named the artists. They had a small area marked off for exhibitions called ‘The Mansard Gallery.’ For a good while in the 1920s and 1930s Heal’s were all that was considered commercial and attractive in product in a most knowing way.

I haven’t seen the Heal’s logo as a bird before. How very Twitter that bird is.

Heal's London shop 1920s paper gift tag back



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