Felix Dennis and Eric Gill – two soulmates

November 23, 2014
The Game from 1922 with Eric Gill illustration

One of the many Gill items being sold by the Felix Dennis estate – a copy of ‘The Game’ magazine from 1922 with an Eric Gill biblical illustration on the cover – part of lot 146 (estimate £700-£900)

It hardly seems any time since Felix Dennis popped his clogs – in fact it was June – but already the estate of the once-jailed joint editor of underground magazine Oz, Mac User and Maxim owner, and multimillionaire publisher is being sold off.

Sotheby’s is auctioning Dennis’s collection of Eric Gill sculptures and drawings on 9 December as part of its English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale.

And it is an extensive collection numbering about a hundred lots, many of several items, gathered by someone who regarded himself as an unlikely collector of art. The lots include many examples of drawn and carved lettering, while a youthful Dennis himself had stormed out of Harrow School of Art saying he shouldn’t have to waste time learning to draw letters when he could simply use Letraset.

Gill led a reprehensible private life, exposed by Fiona McCarthy’s 1989 Faber biography of the sculptor, wood engraver, illustrator and typographer. So perhaps there was something of kindred-spiritship there with the rebellious Dennis. Fergus Byrne is working on an authorised biography of Dennis, to be published by Ebury. The blurb runs:

His early rebellious days started with dropping out of grammar school, playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, and being imprisoned (with Richard Neville and Jim Anderson) for charges of obscenity relating to a priapic Rupert Bear in the ‘schoolkids’ issue of the magazine Oz. The launch of Kung-Fu magazine, created when Dennis spotted a queue at a Leicester Square cinema for a Bruce Lee film, changed his fortunes. An industrious and self-destructive era then followed. He moved to America, added the magazines MacUser and Maxim to his portfolio, but also discovered crack, hookers and S&M. When his lifestyle led him to hospital, he gave up the drugs overnight and took to writing poetry. He acquired a mansion in Warwickshire, bought a much loved home in Mustique from rock star David Bowie, gave generously to charities, planted the largest broadleaf forest in Britain, and published several volumes of verse promoted by very well received readings nationwide.

Byrne wrote a 2013 profile of Dennis after the latter’s treatment for throat cancer. He quotes Dennis talking about his treatment and giving up smoking:

“So I’d been smoking, God knows, thirty, forty or fifty a day for forty-nine and a half years and then just stopped, just like I gave up narcotics.” He amused the lady in the radiotherapy department with the explanation that he gave up through fear. “Terror is the best patch” he told her and she proceeded to make a sign with just that quote to hang in the radiotherapy waiting room.

There’s a Felix Dennis tribute website and Eric Gill has his own society.

Eric Gill's engraved wood carving for The Four Gospels published by Golden Cockerell Press

Eric Gill’s engraved wood carving for The Four Gospels published by Golden Cockerell Press – Sotheby’s lot 198 (estimate £3000-£5000)

 

Who is Woman cover illustrator Lovat?

November 21, 2014
Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by 'Lovat'

Woman magazine from Odhams just three-and-a-half months before the outbreak of World War 2 with an illustration by ‘Lovat’

A classic cover here for a pre-war Woman magazine from Odhams – and, unusually for this title, the cover artists has signed the image, ‘Lovat’ (15 April 1939).

I immediately thought of Claud Lovat Fraser, who did illustrations for books and the theatre, but he died in 1921.

Woman had only launched in 1937, setting out to rival George Newnes’ Woman’s Own with its own colour gravure presses. At this time, Woman stuck to illustrated covers while Woman’s Own had used photography from its launch in 1932. The early Woman’s Own covers used a second or third spot colour but it ran photographic covers printed gravure that used spot colours in a very sophisticated way to given the impression of full-colour from as early was 1935. Ahead of the Woman launch, in early 1937 it started printing photographic colours in full colour.

Both magazines were printed in Watford, Herts, Odhams having built an Art Deco press hall there in 1937 after Sun Engraving had turned down a takeover. Sun was Britain’s biggest printer and Woman’s Own was one of its customers, along with Vogue and Picture Post to name but two. The Odhams plant is still there, though a big chunk of the site was sold off for an Asda store 25 years ago. Of the Sun plant, nothing is left but a clock!

So who was this Lovat? Any ideas?

Magazine titles and typography

November 20, 2014

Typography is an art and more and more people are creating their own typefaces and fonts. Nowadays, type and magazine titles tend to be created on computer screens but right into the 1990s, drawing unique lettering and fonts by hand was the standard way of doing things.

It might have been cheaper to rely on Letraset rub-down lettering or manipulating photoset typefaces, but nothing could beat the typographer’s pen for originality.

Until the 1960s and the dominance of photography for magazine covers, illustrators would often draw the lettering for each issue as part of the overall design. Many magazines did have an artist’s lettering set as a standard title however.

The three titles here from Drawing date from 1915 and 1916.  At first glance, they may look the same, but take a closer look and you’ll soon start to see the differences. The top one is damaged.

Drawing title, June 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, June 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, October 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, October 1915

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, February 1916

Hand-drawn title for Drawing magazine, February 1916

 

 

 

 

 

The charming children of Lilian Hocknell

November 20, 2014
Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Mother magazine cover of child with toys by Lilian Hocknell from November 1936

Lilian Hocknell drew this cover for the November 1936 cover of Mother. By this time, the country was coming out of the recession and the family is laden with presents and Christmas shopping. The cherubic little girl is clutching a red balloon as well as the teddy. the lettering ” ‘S TOY FAIR” can be seen on the balloon – Hamley’s? Harrod’s?

Notice they’re all wearing gloves; with gauntlets for the older sister.

Hocknell could certainly draw cute tots. An exhibition of her work, ‘Drawings of Children’ was held at the Sporting Gallery, London, in 1926 and she was prolific in producing adverts for Chilprufe kids’ clothing. This issue of Mother ran a Chilprufe advert, below. The V&A holds examples of Hocknell‘s work and Nottingham University notes that The Strand magazine, March 1938, ran an article by John Lothian entitled ‘Here’s fun! The Delightful Childhood Studies of Lilian Hocknell’. She drew a Clacton-On-Sea railway poster for LNER and her drawings have been sold at Bonhams. The clothing might have been proof from chills, but the proofreading left something to be desired, with the C left out of manufacturing.

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children's clothing

Lillian Hocknell advertising illustration for Chilprufe children’s clothing. From Mother magazine 1936 – note the spelling error

The address for the Mother was Martlett House, Martlett Court, in London’s Covent Garden. The same address was used later for the Odhams magazines Woman (1938), Picturegoer (1939) and Everywoman (1940).

 

Should cartoonists credit their sources?

November 12, 2014
Steve Bell sends up David Cameron's immigration strategy in the Guardian (21 October p29)

Steve Bell sends up David Cameron’s immigration strategy in the Guardian (21 October p29)

To address the question posed by the headline, in the cases discussed here, my answer is Yes. So, congratulations to Steve Bell, the Guardian‘s political cartoonist, for crediting Alfred Leete in this cartoon last month.

This image is, of course, a parody of Leete’s famed Your Country Needs You magazine cover for London Opinion at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. It’s the most influential magazine cover yet seen and is copied or parodied, knowingly and unknowingly, an untold number of times each day all over the world.

All too often, cartoonists demonstrate their lack of knowledge, or meanness of spirit, by not crediting their direct rip-offs. So brickbats to Peter Brookes of the Times in August for his Leete parody below. No doubt he would defend the borrowing, but why not credit the source? As Bell demonstrates, it is easily done. There’s a double brickbat here in the centenary of the start of the Great War. For Leete joined the Artists’ Rifles and went to the front at the age of 33. Furthermore, his image became the famous recruiting poster and has been credited with being the face of Lord Kitchener’s volunteer recruitment campaign. Leete later gave the artwork to the Imperial War Museum, where it can be seen to this day.

Peter Brookes political cartoon in the style of Alfred Leete from the Times (August 5)

Peter Brookes political cartoon in the style of Alfred Leete from the Times (August 5)

The Times cartoonist of today established his name with a cover for Oz, of all places, back in the 1971. Brookes copied a cover by Peter Driben for US title Beauty Parade (February 1949) for the Oz ‘Young love’ cover (issue 37, September 1971). For that one, he signed himself ‘Peter Hack-Brookes’.

Peter Hack-Brookes cover for Oz from September 1971 - a copy from a US magazine cover from 1949

Peter Hack-Brookes cover for Oz from September 1971 – a copy from a US magazine cover by Peter Driben from 1949

Magazine sells for £8000 on eBay

October 31, 2014
Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue

Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue in perspex box

Magazine collectors have been setting more records on eBay recently. At the top of the tree is the £8000 spent on a copy of Playboy.

It’s one of the 60th anniversary issues of the men’s magazine with Kate Moss on the cover from Jan/Feb 2014 (which went on sale at the start of December). There were at least two variants of the cover: a sideways-on shot of Moss in a Playboy Bunny costume kneeling, which was used in countries such as the UK, Hungary, US and Germany; and one used in Mexico and Italy with the British model kneeling and looking back over her left shoulder.

Inside the issue were 18 pages of photos, which she told one paper she did as a way of celebrating her 40th birthday in 2014.

The cover photographs were taken by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, two UK-based snappers who usually spend their time doing cover shots for the likes of Dazed & ConfusedLove, W and Vogue.

UK issues have been selling for up to £30 on eBay.

The looking-back image was also used for 800 unpriced copies produced in co-operation with US fashion designer Marc Jacobs. One of these went for about £150 in the US recently. However, number 433 of the 800 edition twice failed to attract any bids recently on eBay when priced at £150 and £125.

The copy that fetched £8000 was one of 100 Jacobs copies that were signed by Moss and came in a perspex box. This one is numbered 33/100. Moss appeared at a Jacobs shop in Mount Street, London, at the start of December 2013 as part of the publicity for Playboy‘s 60th celebrations.

Of course, the buyer is after some kind of celebrity rub-off rather than a magazine. But £8000? Has to be a PR stunt. One of these Playboy anniversary issues in a box sold in the US recently for just $3000 (about £1800).

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Caricatures in the Great War

October 27, 2014
Kitchener of Khartoum - caricature by Will Scott

‘K of K’ – Kitchener of Khartoum – caricature by Will Scott on the cover of Drawing magazine in February 1916

Will Scott was a new name to me when I saw this issue of Drawing magazine.  But this is a great caricature of a ship-like Kitchener, the War Lord who laid the foundations for Britain’s victory in the Great War with his foresight and call for volunteers.

The cover refers to an article by Scott about political satire, in which he is scathing in his views on British cartoons:

One cannot seriously suppose here is anyone who is really impressed by a British cartoon, or that there would be a single sigh of regret if our cartoonists ceased business tomorrow … We have not a single satirical journal worthy of the name.

Scott is a forgotten name now, but he did come to fame, though not as cartoonist or art critic. He turned to writing short stories for magazines and newspapers such as the Passing Show and Daily Express. His detective novels and stage plays were made into films in the 1930s and his The Cherrys series for children was popular right into the late 1960s. Scott is credited with more than 2,000 short stories, claimed as a record for the UK during his lifetime.

Back in 1916, the black and white artists at Punch and other titles must have been spitting at his remarks, though Scott goes on to credit the Tatler‘s HM Bateman – with his ‘exquisite sense of “silly”‘ and Will Dyson at the Daily Herald with breaking the mould. The website dedicated to Bateman describes how he ‘went mad on paper’ after suffering a breakdown:

Until this time conventional cartoons had been illustrated jokes – drawings with a few lines of text or dialogue underneath. Take away the dialogue and the drawing becomes meaningless, the joke lay in the words. From 1909 onwards Bateman drew no more illustrated jokes and so changed profoundly the art of the cartoon, invested it with a new freedom of line and expression. The drawing became funny in itself, self-explanatory. He made emotion the subject of his cartoons and the characters became actors expressing feeling, rather than illustrations to an idea.

The Cartoon Museum is organising an exhibition of his work later this year: H.M. Bateman: The Man Who Went Mad On Paper.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography credits Dyson’s work on the Daily Herald with changing Britain’s attitude towards the working man and capitalism:

Dyson hacked into the pomposity and humbug of pre-war England, championing the working man boldly and without reserve. ‘In British cartooning Before Dyson’, his friend Vance Palmer wrote, ‘the working man had been depicted as a pathetic figure, a depressed person lacking any human dignity. Will Dyson drew him young, militant, an image of hope with fist up-raised’… He represented Capital, Finance and Power as a gross figure of large paunch, top hat, spats and a cigar, the image of greed in a world of ignoble advantages. Hackneyed now, the symbol was a notable creation in its day.

An article in a previous issue also touches on the topic of caricature. In ‘Cartoons and the War’ David Wilson writes:

Tirpitz’s whiskers are today to the public what Gladstone’s collars were to an earlier generation. Harry Furness, it would seem, invented the famous white wings, but in time the collars came to signify, in a kind of artists’ shorthand, Gladstone himself.

Drawing launched in 1915 as ‘A paper devoted to art as a national asset, entirely owned, edited and managed by professional artists and designers.’ Its message to advertisers expands on the philosophy:

The proprietors of Drawing are making a serious attempt to raise the standard of Press Advertising. They believe that advertisements should embellish a magazine, that is, be of a kind which readers will admire instead of regard – as is usually the case – as an objectionable feature. Only those which come up to a certain artistic standard will be accepted by Drawing. Nothing ugly or common will be inserted. Those which consist mainly of an illustration and show originality are preferred. If you have nothing suitable of your own, our artists will design a distinctive advertisement for you, under the supervision of experts. NB. We refuse advertisement so goods not actually manufactured in Great Britain’

The editor was George Montague Ellwood (1875-1955), one of the founding members of the Guild of Craftsmen. He held the post until 1924 and during that time expanded the magazine’s coverage and its title to become Drawing and Design. He wrote several books, including English Furniture and Decoration, 1680-1800.

Statist: a magazine worth quoting

October 18, 2014
Statist magazine from February 1967

Statist magazine from February 1967

The editors at small-circulation magazines are always happy when big papers pick up their stories, so economics weekly  Statist magazine would be chuffed to be referred in the Financial Times (several of these articles also ran in MoneyWeek):

Here’s a quote from the (generally rightwing, and prone to long sentences) Statist magazine from 1962 which sums things up the feeling then, and rather my feeling now: “In an era when the government appears to find itself obliged to tax an individual’s current earnings so highly that it is difficult if not impossible for the industrious able and thrifty person to save a substantial amount of money for himself, it is very wrong that another person who may well be idle, stupid and spendthrift should be in a position to receive a fortune by gifts or inheritance virtually without paying tax at all. (‘Cameron should scrap IHT threshold,’ 5 April 2014)

A long sentence indeed : 76 words. And also this year:

The great swings in the relationships between the likes of profit shares and labour shares take decades to play out. Look back to press reports from the 1960s and you will see many of the same kinds of articles you see in the papers today – in 1963 the (generally rightwing) Statist magazine insisted that a new minimum wage policy was a must and that government was “irrevocably committed to doing something for the low paid”. (‘Workers of the world will unite,’ 8 February)

While last autumn,

In the mid-1960s an article in the Statist magazine explained to London readers that the tax would “reverse the trend of soaring land values and reduce housing costs”. The writer was sure that support for [a site value tax] was such that “a concerted effort at this stage should carry the day”. It did not. But the idea has remained. (‘The perfect tax?,’ 28 September)

That same month:

In 1967, Paul Bareau, an eminent journalist of the era, wrote in the Statist magazine about the “pangs of modest deflation” hitting the UK. He called for “re-expansion” via all the usual methods – low base rates, a “lenient attitude” towards the commercial banks and a new round of government support to various industries. That worked out, as it likely will this time, all too well. By 1970, a mere three years later and well before the oil price shocks, inflation in the UK was running at about 8 per cent. Whoops. (‘A bad day at the office for Mark Carney,’ 7 September 2013)

You’ll notice the pattern by now:

A row raged in the pages of the Statist magazine in the early 1960s after “distinguished chartist” AG Ellinger declared that in the idea that the stock market would keep their money safe, “the public has been sold a pup”. (‘Ross Goobey’s speech resonates 50 years on,’ 10 November 2012)

Yes, it’s back in the sixties again:

‘Back in 1962 most European bankers were mad for monetary union. They were planning for it and seeing it, as Statist magazine said at the time, as “part of the writing on the wall”’ (‘In spite of debt crises, Germany is in the zone, 4 December 2010)

And again:

‘This outperformance isn’t a new thing … Statist magazine noted that in the decade to 1967 the average trust made 175% even as global markets returned a mere 75%.’ (‘Cheers for the product, boos for the charges,’ 2 October 2010)

And, for my last example:

‘You will not have heard of Mr F.M. Osborn. However, I feel I know him rather well. Why? Because I have a copy of an article he wrote in … The Statist.’ (‘Liars’ self-cert charter could have a bitter result,’ 25 September 2010)

In fact, FT Money writer and MoneyWeek editor Merryn Somerset Webb has sought inspiration or evidence from Statist no less than eight times in four years in her FT articles. It’s just a shame that the Statist, which looked like the Economist, closed several decades ago. But, then, what goes around comes around in the world of finance and a good article is always worth quoting, even if it is 50 years old.

News magazines profiled

When a woman ruled the roost for Punch ad sales

October 14, 2014

 

Marion Jean Lyon was hard of advertising sales for Punch in 1923

Marion Jean Lyon was head of advertising sales for Punch in 1923 ((c) magforum.com)

Punch advertising manager Marion Jean Lyon  in 1923

Marion Jean Lyon in 1923 (Magforum.com)

The above advert for Punch from the autumn of 1923 describes the veteran weekly as ‘the foremost humorous journal in the world’. No small claim, and backing it up from the weekly’s Bouverie Street offices just off Fleet St was advertising manager Marion Jean Lyon.

She was one of the most successful people in the history of advertising sales, and, as head of sales for Punch, she was able to boast that all the advertising space was sold until the next year. Lyon held the post at Punch, which was a national institution, until she died in 1940. She was one of many women working in the industry in such roles, alongside women advertising managers at Everywoman, Woman and Housewife.

Lyon’s success was noted in another weekly, the Spectator (21 October 1922, p37):

A remarkable illustration of the ever-increasing part women are playing in business life is afforded by the appointment of Miss Marion Jean Lyon, a Scotswoman who came to London 16 years ago, to the position of advertising manager of Punch. Joining the office staff of Punch 12 years ago, Miss Lyon gradually worked her way upwards till she was made assistant to the late advertising manager, Mr Roy Somervell. She has recently been appointed to the vacant position, to the great satisfaction of all those who had experience of her business ability. The position of advertising manager of Punch is one of the most important and highly paid in Fleet Street and it is interesting to find that a woman has won it.

The year 1923 was a big one for Lyon, because she married Leonard Raven-Hill, who had joined Punch in 1901 and been second cartoonist to Sir Bernard Partridge since 1910. Not only that, she helped found, and became first president of, the Women’s Advertising Club of London in 1923. The WACL is still going today.

There is an intriguing symbol used in the advert – a clockwise swastika, below the words ‘goodwill throughout the civilized world’. Ten years later the symbol would become associated with the Nazis, but it is one of the world’s oldest symbols and was, for example, regarded as a a good luck totem by early aviators.

swastika symbol

Notice the swastika symbol below the text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Louis de Rougemont: the ‘greatest liar on Earth’

October 13, 2014
Louis de Rougemont portrait from Wide World Magazine

Louis de Rougemont in Wide World

There are tales and tall tales, and the tallest tales of all were told by Louis de Rougemont, who conned the Victorian world with his fantastic accounts of being shipwrecked and spending decades fighting off sea monsters and living with cannibals in Australia.

His stories were the making of Wide World Magazine, which used ‘astounding pictures’ and ‘thrilling adventures’ to appeal to readers under the line ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’. The magazine was published in both the UK (for 6d) and the US (10c) and serialised de Rougemont’s life story from its August 1898 issue. The opening page for the first instalment sets the scene: ‘The Adventures of Louis de Rougement … the most amazing experiences a man ever lived to tell.’ Even 55 years later in the US, the articles were the topic of comment in Time magazine’s letters page (14 December 1953):

Sir: Quentin Reynolds said he’d been “duped” by the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated.” No, not “the greatest” . . . Far greater, because it was not exposed till many years later, was Louis de Rougemont, whose  accounts were the foundation of Wide World Magazine … Sir George Newnes, publisher of Strand Magazine, and millions of Britishers were duped. The title “Truth is stranger than fiction” later became “Truth is a stranger to fiction.”

Illustration from Wide World Magazine for De Rougemont's serial

Illustration by A Pearce from Wide World Magazine for De Rougemont’s serial

De Rougemont had arrived in England in March 1898. A letter of introduction from Sir J. Henniker Heaton got him into the offices of the Wide World Magazine, which was then being launched by Tit-Bits and Strand owner George Newnes. Having seen the power of the Sherlock Holmes stories in driving sales for the Strand, the magazine’s editors – who claimed ‘we ave absolutely satisfied ourselves as to M. de Rougemont’s accuracy in every minute particular’  – knew a good thing when they saw it and so, from August 1898 to May 1899 Wide World serialised ‘The adventures of Louis de Rougemont’.

The fanciful stories were embellished by graphic illustrations by A. Pearce, such as one of de Rougemont’s crew being dragged off by an octopus. The articles were republished as The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont, as Told by Himself (1899).

However, other magazines and newspapers smelled a rat (or perhaps the ‘clouds of flying wombats’ that Rougemont described). In London, the Daily Chronicle cried foul, as did the Sydney Evening News and Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph contacted Rougemont’s abandoned wife in Sydney, who identified the hoaxer from his photograph in Wide World.

In truth, de Rougemont’s real name was Henri Louis Grin and was born in Switzerland. He had several jobs, including working as a butler, and ended up in Australia. He bought a boat Ada, which was later found wrecked. Grin claimed to have sailed 3000 miles after having survived an attack by Aboriginals. He then married, fathering seven children, before deserting them and heading to England to begin his career as a conman.

The Adventures of Louis de Rougement in Wide World Magazine August 1898

The Adventures of Louis de Rougement in Wide World Magazine August 1898

After the scandal, Grin became a music-hall attraction, billed in South Africa as ‘The greatest liar on earth’. He then earned a living as a handyman and married again. As ‘Louis Redman’, he died in London in 1921, and was buried in Kensal Green. His life inspired several books, with titles such as The Greatest Liar on Earth (1945) and The Most Amazing Story a Man Ever Lived to Tell  (1977). In 2009, Donald Margulies, a US playwright, brought de Rougemont’s story to life for a modern-day generation with Shipwrecked!, reviewed by the New York Times as ‘The breathless story of a Victorian gentleman whose colourful past as a seafaring wanderer springs to life like a theatrical pop-up book.’

As for Wide World, it survived as one of the longest-published men’s magazines until 1965, with many of its colourful covers attracting magazine collectors to this day. It has been described as being for the ‘armchair adventurer and the reminiscing old-timer‘.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers