Archive for the ‘celebrity’ Category

Gawker and the ‘crude crunch of global litigation’

August 28, 2016

Gawker has joined the News of the World as road fill, cosmic particles or wherever it is that dead media go. Peter Preston of the Guardian (and one of its past editors) has written about its closure and his worries about the potential effect of legal busybodies on the media in print and online:

Hear the crude crunch of global litigation bent on obliteration, not arbitration. Trump issues writs as heedlessly as he massages statistics: 1,900 of them filed already. Silicon Valley is flexing its muscles. I know many readers here still see press freedom through a Murdoch prism. I know that Leveson’s followers hold his words as holy writ. But the internet – instantaneously, inevitably – gives news a different dimension. It isn’t just another great-and-good opportunity for the regulatory classes … we ought to care, deeply, about its fate.

When you find Private Eye and the world’s oldest English language magazine, The Spectator, on the same side against Leveson’s press regulation, that’s a big worry. Moneyed Silicon Valley, loud-mouthed celebrities, lawyers and their super-injunctions – a dark combination for press freedom.

Different Olympic numbers show Croatia and New Zealand joining Jamaica (and Yorkshire!) as star performers

August 22, 2016
Country  G S B Total/country/population
  46  37  38  121   US (324m)
  27  23  17  67   GB & NI (65m)
  26  18  26  70   China (1,382m)
  19  18  19  56   Russia (143m)
  17  10  15  42   Germany (81m)
  12  21  41   Japan (126m)
  10  18  14  42   France 65m)
  21   S. Korea (51m)
  12  28   Italy (60m)
10    11  10  29   Australia (24m)

Everyone’s raving about how well the GB team has done in the Olympics, but it’s a big country, both by population and level of development. It should do well. Playing with the table from the BBC Olympics website can show up the results on a different light. The UK population is 65 million – but, in fact, that only ranks 21st in the world; China comes top with 1.3 billion, followed by India, the US (324 million), Indonesia and Brazil (the host nation, which came in 13th by gold medals).

So, to come 2nd in Rio is really good by Britain’s population size. But, in terms of population, who are the runaway successes? Well, Jamaica is the one, whether by golds per head of population or overall medals, it’s first or second. Of course, Jamaica has Usain Bolt so it comes to mind as a small country that’s done well. But its great rival in the medals per head of population stakes was a surprise to me. Australia? No. Hungary? It’s up there, at number 4. It turns out that Croatia and New Zealand (that’ll makes the Aussies wince!)  join Jamaica in the top three, whether by golds or total medals.

Rank by golds Country Population Gold Silver Bronze Total Golds/100m pop
1 16 jamaica 2,803,362 6 3 2 11 214
2 17 croatia 4,225,001 5 3 2 10 118
3 19 NZ 4,565,185 4 9 5 18 88
4 12 hungary 9,821,318 8 3 4 15 82
5 11 Neths 16,979,729 8 7 4 19 47
6 18 cuba 11,392,889 5 2 4 11 44
7 2 GB 65,111,143 27 23 17 67 42
8 24 switzerland 8,379,477 3 2 2 7 36
9 10 australia 24,309,330 8 11 10 29 33
10 26 greece 10,919,459 3 1 2 6 28

By golds/head, Britain (7th, 65m pop.) is the only big country (in my definition, population over 50 million); and again is the only big representative  (7th) in terms of total medals/head. It seems Britain has been able to do in Olympic terms what it does so successfully with mobile phone chips, books, jet engines and Formula 1 cars.

Rank by golds Country Population (m) Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals/100m pop
1 19 NZ 4.5 4 9 5 18 394
2 16 jamaica 2.8 6 3 2 11 392
3 17 croatia 4.2 5 3 2 10 237
4 12 hungary 9.8 8 3 4 15 153
5 10 australia 24 8 11 10 29 119
6 11 Neths 17 8 7 4 19 112
7 2 GB 65 27 23 17 67 103
8 18 cuba 11 5 2 4 11 97
9 22 kazahkstan 18 3 5 9 17 95
10 24 switzerland 8.4 3 2 2 7 84

Another potential measure is GDP per head – gross domestic product or the amount of goods a nation makes every year divided by its population. Here, the top five nations are Qatar, Luxembourg, Macau, Liechtenstein and Bermuda. All no-hopers at Rio – you’d have thought being rich would help you be good at sport because you can pay for the kit and training, but it looks like it just makes you lazy. The only top 10 medal country near the top by GDP is Australia (14th by GDP, 10th in Rio). The US comes in at 19 (1 at Rio); Germany 28 (5 at Rio), Britain at  39 (2 at Rio), New Zealand at 49, Croatia 83 and Jamaica 140. So there again, Jamaica, Croatia, Britain, New Zealand and Croatia are all punching well above their GDP weight.

One surprising statistic concerns the county of Yorkshire in England. It has a population of 5.4 million people, but Olympic athletes from there have won 5 golds and 14 medals overall at Rio (5/5/4). That would place Yorkshire 17th in the overall Olympics medals table, just below Jamaica but ahead of Croatia and New Zealand. In terms of golds/head (95), it would displace New Zealand in third place, and by medals/head (265) it would displace Croatia to take third place again. At the London Olympics, it would have come an incredible 12th had it been a separate country!

China is the massive loser given that it is such a massive country, but then it is down at 113 in GDP/head – but still well ahead of Jamaica.

So, there it is – the real Olympic stars are Jamaica, Croatia and New Zealand, with Britain the star among the big states.

bygolds Country pop (m) gold silver bronze total gold/100m pop medals/100m pop
1 US 324 46 37 38 121 14.19 37.33
2 GB 65 27 23 17 67 41.47 102.90
3 china 1,382 26 18 26 70 1.88 5.06
4 russia 143 19 18 19 56 13.25 39.04
5 Germany 81 17 10 15 42 21.07 52.06
6 japan 126 12 8 21 41 9.50 32.46
7 france 65 10 18 14 42 15.46 64.95
8 S korea 51 9 3 9 21 17.82 41.58
9 italy 60 8 12 8 28 13.38 46.82
10 australia 24 8 11 10 29 32.91 119.30
11 Neths 17 8 7 4 19 47.12 111.90
12 hungary 10 8 3 4 15 81.46 152.73
13 brazil 210 7 6 6 19 3.34 9.07
14 spain 46 7 4 6 17 15.20 36.90
15 kenya 47 6 6 1 13 12.70 27.51
16 jamaica 2.8 6 3 2 11 214.03 392.39
17 croatia 4.2 5 3 2 10 118.34 236.69
18 cuba 11 5 2 4 11 43.89 96.55
19 nz 4.6 4 9 5 18 87.62 394.29
20 canada 36 4 3 15 22 11.02 60.63
21 uzbekistan 30, 4 2 7 13 13.20 42.90
22 kazahkstan 18 3 5 9 17 16.80 95.21
23 colombia 49 3 2 3 8 6.17 16.44
24 switzerland 8.4 3 2 2 7 35.80 83.54
25 iran 80 3 1 4 8 3.75 9.99
26 greece 11 3 1 2 6 27.47 54.95

It’s That Man Again’s Tommy Handley

July 31, 2016
1948 Strand cover of Liverpool ITMA comedian Tommy Handley

1948 Strand cover of Liverpool ITMA comedian Tommy Handley

There’s a certain poignancy in this 1948 Strand cover of Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley signing autographs outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House.

Handley was one of the most popular voices on the radio throughout the Second World War in It’s That Man Again, a series that took its title from a newspaper nickname for Hitler and was soon shortened, military style, to ITMA (pronounced ‘Itma’). The first pre-war series in 1939 was set in a pirate commercial radio station (what are the chances that this idea sowed a seed in the young minds of the people who would found Radio Caroline 20-odd years later?).

Once war broke out the setting was changed to the Office of Twerps and various changes were made throughout. Itma also introduced Colonel Humphrey Chinstrap and his catchphrase ‘I don’t mind if I do.’

Inside the Strand, a box credit box explains:

Robin Jaques made this study of Britain’s best-loved comedian as Tommy was ambushed by fans when leaving the B.B.C. headquarters of “Itma.” Autograph hunters are not permitted inside the hall of Broadcasting House, so they lie in wait over the road in Portland Place. And Tommy accepts it all with never-failing humour and kindliness. The tie Tommy is wearing is his favourite. The colours are those of the famous writers’ and artists’ club, the Savage.

Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley in a BBC publicity shot from the ITMA series

The similarity with this BBC publicity photograph suggests that Jacques – one of the best illustators of the era, who also did covers for Radio Times, Punch and the Listener – might have used it as a reference for Handley’s face. His sister was actress Hattie Jacques, who appeared in Itma from 1947.

The February 1948 issue of the Strand will have been on sale in January that year, 12 months before the last broadcast of Itma on 6 January 1949. Handley died just three days later of a brain haemorrhage. As a BBC Radio tribute to Handley puts it: ‘and with him died one of the most popular radio shows of the forties’.

The theory that Jacques used the BBC publicity photograph as a reference is given added weight by the Tit-Bits cover below from 13 June, 1947 – a year before the Strand illustration. Two artists using the same source suggests there weren’t a lot of options – but then this was post-war Britain, with rationing heavily enforced and that will have affected photographic paper. It would be another five years before rationing ended.

tit_bits_1947_6jun13_.jpg

This cover was definitely based on the BBC’s publicity photo of Tommy Handley

>>More on the Strand magazine

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

Lord Kitchener – the life of his image. Part 5

June 20, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her. Kitchener was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the fifth post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher that examines the story of the man, the famous poster and how that image has retained its hold on the imagination of people across the world.

Leete’s image today

private_eye_2016june_kitchener.jpgDaily mail 1961 July 14 ridicules Macmillan as KitchenerEvery day, someone, somewhere, makes use of Alfred Leete’s 112-year-old drawing of Kitchener. Above is an example from this week’s Private Eye magazine, making a pun on ‘EU’ and ‘you’ with ‘Your country doesn’t need EU’ as part of its EU referendum coverage. The wording also refers back to one of the early subversions of the image – the Daily Mail ridiculing Harold Macmillan, the prime minister, with the words: ‘But does your country need you’ (1961).

And it’s not just the press. In the village of Harkstead in Suffolk today, I walked past a reproduction of one of the First World War posters with the wording: ‘Your Country Needs You … to help repaint the village playground.’ From Britain’s leading satirical magazine to a village noticeboard, it’s difficult to escape that iconic Kitchener image. The images below give a hint of the reason why.

In summary: The magazine cover that started it all
London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914

Alfred Leete’s London Opinion cover in September 1914

The idea of the recruiting poster catches on across the globe
One of three recruiting posters that used Leete’s image in 1914-15

One of three recruiting posters that used Leete’s image in 1914-15

US artist James Montgomery Flagg copies Leete’s idea for Leslie’s (6 July 1916)

US artist James Montgomery Flagg cover for Leslie’s (6 July 1916)

One of many US recruiting posters used from 1917

US posters used Flagg’s artwork once the US entered the war in 1917

The image is revived in WW2 and continues to be used
Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

The Hungarian editor of Picture Post uses Leete’s image in 1940

 

 

russian kitchener_1941

Russian poster from WW2: ‘You. How have you helped the front?’

Leete’s image sparks many ideas
Big Brother poster in film version of George Orwell’s 1984 (published 1949)

 

Big Brother poster from a film of George Orwell’s book 1984, which was published in 1949

Punch deplores the loss of Sudan civil servants (1955)

Punch deplores the way local civil servants are treated in the Sudan (1955)

 

Daily Telegraph 1955 magazine chooses Leete artwork as an iconic image

Daily Telegraph marks its centenary and chooses Leete’s artwork as an iconic image of the past 100 years

Philip Magnus biography of Kitchener as an imperialist

Biography of an imperialist by Philip Magnus with an Osbert Lancaster caricature

Daily mail 1961 July 14 ridicules Macmillan as KitchenerDaily Mail ridicules Harold Macmillan, the prime minister (1961): ‘But does your country need you’
The stern pointing image is subverted in Britain and then the US
oh_what_a_lovely_war_2016mar_3_stanford_uni

2016 Stanford version of the 1962 Joan Littlewood play Oh What a Lovely War

Kitchener’s face is a symbol of Carnaby St in the Swinging SixtiesA symbol of Carnaby St in the Swinging Sixties 1967_Honey_magazine_cover_as_kitchenerGirl power 1967-style on cover of young women’s magazine Honey Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

i_want_out_vietnam_war_protest_poster

From the late 1960s, Vietnam War protestors subverted the imagery. This is from 1971

Leete’s image continues to resonate to this day
recruitment poster based on Leete's Kitchener imageFirst army campaign aimed at recruiting officers from ethnic minorities  (1997)

2002 Dr Who magazine with Lethbridge Stewart in the Kitchener pose (August 21)

Lethbridge-Stewart fronts Dr Who magazine:  ‘We want you as a Who recruit!’ (2002)

The Economist puts the US Treasury secretary in the Kitchener pose in 2008

Financial crisis: Economist cover of US Treasury secretary Henry ‘Hank’ Paulson (2008)

Radio Times has used Leete’s image for Robbie Williams, Lord Sugar and Jeremy Paxman

Radio Times has used Leete’s idea for Lord Sugar, Robbie Williams and Jeremy Paxman

Karl Marx as the Uncle Sam derivative of KItchener

Uncle Sam – arch symbol of capitalism – is  used by the Karl Marx library in London (2016)

READ THE BOOK: Kitchener Wants You by Martyn Thatcher and Anthony Quinn

Lord Kitchener – the legend lives on. Part 4

June 11, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her. Kitchener was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the fourth post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher that examines the story of the man, the famous poster and how that image has retained its hold on the imagination of people across the world.

Picture Post for the week of 1 June 1940

Picture Post magazine cover for the week of 1 June 1940

Leete’s Kitchener image is revived

Alfred Leete’s Kitchener image for London Opinion was donated to the Imperial War Museum, where it was only catalogued as a poster. Although the image appeared in some exhibitions after the war, it was not regarded as a great example of poster art, unlike the wartime posters of people such as Frank Brangwyn, Gerald Spencer Pryse and Edward McKnight Kauffer.

When the Second World War broke out, conscription was brought in immediately and the British government decided to use more subtle techniques for poster campaigns. So, there was no place for Leete’s image, although a different tack was taken in the US, which did re-use James Montgomery Flagg’s Uncle Sam version of the Kitchener artwork. The Russians also adopted the Leete imagery, but with the image of a painting soldier.
However, the most famous photo magazine of the era, Picture Post, did feel Leete’s artwork was worth dusting off. It was carried on the front of the popular weekly, dated 1 June 1940. It not only marked the week of Kitchener’s death, but was also the week of the BEF’s retreat from Dunkirk.
From then on, Kitchener’s face became a frequent reference, for cartoonists, for people and organisations marking iconic events in the 20th century, and for just about anybody wanting to draw attention to anything.

 Attitudes to Kitchener change

Philip Magnus biography of Kitchener as an imperialist

1958 biography of Kitchener by Philip Magnus

A 1958 biography of Kitchener by Philip Magnus portrayed him as an arch imperialist, out of touch with modern values. The April 1955 issue of Lilliput magazine described Kitchener as Britain’s Big Brother, an ironic comparison given that the WWI Kitchener posters probably inspired George Orwell’s descriptions of the character in 1984.

This period very much sees the end of empire as country after country is given independence or fights against British control. Furthermore, Britons were adopting a less deferential attitude towards the establishment, which was soon seen in theatre and the satire boom as well as in the press.

Joan Littlewood’s 1962 play Oh What a Lovely War drew on the Alan Clark book The Donkeys to portray the First World War from the point of view of the frontline soldier. It made great use of Leete’s imagery, both onstage and for publicity, and shook up both British attitudes and theatre itself. It was shown in New York and made into a film. It’s a play that resonates to this day.

Kitchener in Carnaby Street

I was Lord Kitchener's Valet

I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet

The mid-1960s saw Kitchener’s face in a different context: fronting the fashionable boutique I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet and becoming a symbol of Carnaby Street and the Swinging Sixties. Lord Kitchener’s Valet sold secondhand uniforms, which were taken up by pop stars such as The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.

The shop sign by Pat Hartnett, which is in the V&A, was inspired by Leete’s Kitchener image.

Later in the decade, it was protesters against a contemporary conflict – the Vietnam War – who turned to Leete’s imagery, though it was the James Montgomery Flagg variant.

Leete’s image is subverted

Campaigning groups in the US took the pointing Uncle Sam from the Flagg artwork and diverted its meaning for their own purposes. There was Uncle Sam as a death skeleton, bandaged up and demanding relief, and as an aggressive recruiter of young black men seeking human fodder from the city ghettoes for an imperialist, overseas war.

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

Black activists in the US portray Uncle Sam as trying to wipe out their race (1968)

 

i_want_out_vietnam_war_protest_poster
From the late 1960s, Vietnam War protestors subverted the imagery. This is from 1971
Vietnam War protest poster - Uncle Sam as a death skeletonUncle Sam portrayed as a death skeleton tempting recruits to fight in the Vietnam War

Next: The modern images

 

Lord Kitchener – a mysterious death. Part 3

June 8, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914When HMS Hampshire sank on 5 June 1916 on her way to Russia, taking Lord Kitchener down with her, Britain – and a large part of the rest of the world – was in a state of disbelief. Although Kitchener had become isolated from his cabinet colleagues, he was the face of the Empire and had led the biggest recruiting campaign in modern history, a campaign that also changed the nature of propaganda, advertising and graphic design. This is the third post this weeek based based on images from Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher.

London, Paris, New York: how three papers mourned Kitchener

Daily Mirror of June 1916 with a Kitchener memorial_issue

Daily Mirror of June 1916 with a Kitchener memorial issue

Cover of Le Petit Journal of 25 June 1916

Cover of Le Petit Journal with a colour portrait (25 June 1916)

New York Times reports KItchener's death on its front page

New York Times reports Kitchener’s death on its front page

How the press reported Kitchener’s death

News of the death of Britain’s war lord quickly spanned the globe and it was front page news from London to Paris, to Delhi to New York. Soon, conspiracy theories emerged: that Kitchener had survived; that the government had him murdered; that he had reached Russia and changed his name to Stalin. A former Boer spy emerged to claim he had been on the ship and guided the U-boat. There were even reports in the Orkneys that troops had prevented locals trying to rescue survivors.

These stories have inspired conspiracy theorists to this day. As late as last week, the Daily Mirror ran a story: ‘Death of WW1 poster icon Lord Kitchener remains shrouded in conspiracy theories 100 years onby Warren Manger (4 June, pages 26 and 27).

Pictorial Weekly on the conspiracy theories in March 1934

Pictorial Weekly on the conspiracy theories in March 1934

Lilliput revisits the theories in May 1955

Lilliput revisits the theories in May 1955

French magazine Histoire on the Kitchener mystery in 1981

French magazine Histoire on the mystery in 1981

Tomorrow: The legend lives on

 

Lord Kitchener – the recruitment posters. Part 2

June 7, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914Sunday saw the start of a string of events this week to mark the centenary of the death of Lord Kitchener, whose face has become a global icon since he was depicted on the front cover of London Opinion magazine in a famous illustration by Alfred Leete.

Kitchener Wants You, a book I have written with Martyn Thatcher, tracks Kitchener’s career and examines how he was portrayed by magazines and the press from his rise to fame in the Sudan to the present day. This week, I’ll do a post a day based on images from the book – many of which are rarely seen – and some I’ve discovered only recently.

Three images of Kitchener from 1914 and 1915

A smiling Kitchener on the cover of Home Chat in 1915

A smiling Kitchener on the cover of Home Chat in 1915

Kitchener on the cover of Illustrated War News in June 1914

Kitchener on the cover of Illustrated War News in June 1914

How the US magazine Collier's depicted Kitchener in September 1914

How the US magazine Collier’s depicted Kitchener

Alfred Leete’s painting of Kitchener

Alfred Leete drew the London Opinion magazine cover at the top of the page, which was picked up as an image and used for at least three recruitment posters. Leete was one of the leading black-and-white artists of his day, and produced covers, cartoons and illustrations for London Opinion alongside Bert Thomas (who beame famous for his ‘Arf a Mo, Kaiser’ advert for the Weekly Dispatch tobacco fund). Leete’s Kitchener artwork ended up in the Imperial War Museum and has been reproduced in many books, though usually only credited as a poster, or sometimes, mistakenly, as an advertisement. It is worth examining the artwork at the IWM, which has been digitised to its full size and can be examined in detail online.

There were many other depictions of Kitchener, as shown above, but Leete’s is the one that most people remember.

Martyn Thatcher shows how Kitchener became a poster

Martyn Thatcher explores how Kitchener became a poster

All of the artists and magazines chose to portray a younger Kitchener – he was 64 when the war broke out, but most used older photographs, in the case of Leete from one dating back 20 years to about 1895. Martyn Thatcher has explored how the mage was produced and in the process did the above design merging a photograph into Leete’s illustration. Note in particular how Leete built up the moustache and opened the eye. The collar is also simplifed so as not to detract from the face.

Part 1: Kitchener – the legend remembered

Tomorrow: the reaction to Kitchener’s death

Lord Kitchener – the legend remembered. Part 1

June 6, 2016

London Opinion cover from 5 September 1914Sunday saw the start of a string of events this week to mark the centenary of the death of Lord Kitchener, whose face has become a global icon since he was depicted on the front cover of London Opinion magazine in a famous illustration by Alfred Leete.

Hundreds of newspaper stories appeared over the weekend about Kitchener, all tagged to the centenary. Several books have been launched or republished, and having just written Kitchener Wants You with Martyn Thatcher, I now find it near impossible to walk down a street without seeing the illustration or one of its many derivatives.

Kitchener Wants You tracks Kitchener’s career and examines how he was portrayed by magazines and the press from his rise to fame in the Sudan to the present day. This week, I’ll do a post a day based on images from the book – many of which are rarely seen – and some I’ve discovered only recently.

Out of Africa: the hero emerges

Kitchener on the cover of a part work about the Boer War in 1900

Kitchener on the cover of a part work about the Boer War in 1900

Kitchener made his name in North Africa, regaining control lost in an uprising by the Madhi that had resulted in the killing of General Gordon. Over two years, in a campaign that was notable for Kitchener’s brilliance in logistics, the Sirdar (commander-in-chief of Egypt’s forces) added a million square miles to the empire and ultimately massacred the forces of the Madhi’s successor, the Kalifa, Abdulla, at Omdurman.

Some 10,000 Dervishes were killed against a loss of just 48 British troops. It was an army armed with swords comping up against military technology in the form of the Maxim machine gun and modern artillery. However, there was controversy after the desecration of the Madhi’s tomb, and tales that Kitchener wwanted to turn the skull into an ink well.

Yet the country went wild with praise and Kitchener’s movements were closely followed. The press christened him ‘The Avenger of Gordon’.

After the battle, Kitchener sent a telegraph to a colleague in Cairo: ‘The effect of having killed 30,000 Dervishes is that I have 300,000 women on my hands, and I should be much obliged if you could instruct me how to dispose of them.’ His reward was to be made a baron and £30,000. That was in 1898. The next year saw him in South Africa, fighting the Boers. He signed a peace treaty in 1902, being rewarded with a viscounty and £50,000.

Surrounded by women: detail from a 1902 photograph of Kitchener at a garden party

Surrounded by women: Kitchener at a garden party

But the problem of being chased by women did not go away, as this detail from a 1902 photograph of the six-foot-two-tall Lord Kitchener at a Kensington Garden party shows. The caption read: ‘Our batchelor general Lord Kitchener – weaponless, beleaguered and retreat cut off.’

Kitchener has been described as a jackdaw collector of fine china, and a dedicated  gardener. He appears to have ben tongue-tied among politicians and was ‘either very stupid or very clever’ according to Mrs Asquith, the wife of the prime minister.

The next 12 years were spent in India and then Egypt as consul-gereneral. He was on his way back there on August 3 1914 when he was hauled off a Channel ferry on the orders of Asquith and appointed secretary of state for war.

Tomorrow: Leete and his famous Kitchener portrait

What’s a copy of the Sunday Times Magazine worth?

May 20, 2016
The Sunday Times Magazine cover of Davie Bowie from 1975 has been popular on eBay - with prices ranging from £5 to £35

The Sunday Times Magazine cover of Davie Bowie from 1975 has been popular on eBay – with prices ranging from £5 to £35

An email landed this morning from Danielle that got me thinking:

I came across your site from Google. I have over 100 Sunday Times magazines as well as a few other titles from the late 60s and early seventies. In fairly good and good condition (in my opinion). Some of them I have seen for sale on someone’s website for £30+ per edition, but I’ve no idea if they’re actually selling at that price. I’d rather sell them together than have to list them separately but don’t want to be ripped off. Someone offered me £40 for the lot but that seemed ridiculously low. Are you able to advise at all?

There are always copies of the Sunday Times Magazine – originally the Sunday Times Colour Section when it was launched in 1962 – on eBay but the value of a copy mainly depends on what’s in it.

This is demonstrated by two recent auctions on eBay. In one, a complete 1962 bound set sold for £102 plus £11.50 postage and there were 2 bidders. Yet, a single issue from 1964 sold for the same amount – £102 + £5.89 postage – and attracted 4 bids. Why? Because it contained the article ‘Mods Changing Faces’ which covered 8 pages in the August 2 issue. So, Mods rule, OK!

The first Sunday Times colour section from 4 February 1962 (though the cover is not dated)

First Sunday Times colour section from 4 February 1962 (cover was not dated)

But these two sales are exceptional: in the past 6 months only 9 listings have fetched more than £20 (including postage). Postage rates varied from £1.60 to £4.50.

A first issue from 1962 sold for just £8.49 + £2 postage. The fact that there were just 2 bids suggests not many people were aware it was for sale – but then the listing did not give the issue date or describe it as the first issue. The better the description, the more likely people are to find it.

An analysis on eBay this morning shows 213 lots sold in the past six months, but if you tick the ‘Completed listings’ box, you’ll see 1,789 finished listings. So only about 1 in 8 have sold. There are pages of unsold issues, whether priced at £30 or £3. Table 1 shows what’s sold and notes some of the sales.

Table 1. Sunday Times supplements sold on eBay (Dec 2015 to 19 May 2016)
Price range No. sold Comment
£100+ 2 Complete 1962 set – bound. £102 + £11.50 post. 2 bids
‘Mods Changing Faces’, 8-page article Aug 2 1964. £102 + £5.89 postage. 4 bids
£30-£99.99 2 30 Dec 1962 Marilyn Monroe Rudolf Nureyev. £39.99 + £4.50 postage (same issue also sold for £3.99 + £1.45)
David Bowie cover (20 July 1975), Copies sold for £30, £25, £16, £11, £6, £5
£20-£29.99 5
£10-£19.99 41 1962 first issue fetched £8.49 + £2. 2 bids
9 copies 1960s-1970s. £11.50 + £5.80. 2 bids
£5-£9.99 94 12 issues from 1971. £1.99 + £3.80. 2 bids
9 issues from 1975. £1.99 + £3.80. 1 bid
Under £5 82

Table 2 gives an overview of number of copies sold as a percentage of total listed by price.

Table 2. Number of copies sold as a percentage of total listed by price
Listing/sale price No. listed No. sold % sold
£70+ 5 2 40%
£60-£69.99 5 0 0
£50-£59.99 12 0 0
£40-£49.99 35 0 0
£30-£39.99 83 2 2%
£20-£29.99 104 5 5%
£10-£19.99 214 41 13%
£5-£9.99 243 94 39%
0-£4.99 1088 82 8%
Total 1789 226 13%

Danielle raises some other specific issues.

Some of them I have seen for sale at £30 a copy

Specific listings hold messages for both buyers and sellers. For example, one person listed the 30 Dec 1962 Sunday Times Colour Section and sold it for more than £30. But someone else only earned £3.99 + £1.45. A big factor in this was that the former mentioned the main contents – Marilyn Monroe and Rudolf Nureyev. Magazine with features on Monroe, Madonna and cult TV series such as The Avengers tend to sell well.

Sites like Crazy About Magazines and Elegantly Papered are professional sellers and put the mags up at high prices and sit in wait of a serious buyer. They trade on their reputation for selling magazines that are rare and in very good condition. Also, they have expertise and so know what they are selling and can usually judge how rare a magazine is. You can approach such sites or regular eBay sellers and see what offers you can get from them. Crazy About Magazines has an email form to fill in to get a quote. Many such traders are listed on my Collecting Magazines page.

Someone offered me £40 for the lot…

You will not get the best price by selling them in bulk, but then can you be bothered listing them separately on eBay and then doing all the posting and packaging? One strategy is to keep an eye on eBay for a few weeks, see what goes well and pick out the best issues to sell. Then, sell off the remainder as a job lot. Note that 9 copies from the 1960s and 1970s sold for £11.50 + £5.80 postage. That’s just over £1 an issue. Another 12 issues from 1971 went for just  £1.99 + £3.80 postage. That’s 16p an issue. With that sort of success rate, £40 for 100 issues might not look so bad!

Another option might be an impecunious relative/friend/teenager with the time to do the listings and you could split the proceeds.

In fairly good and good condition (in my opinion)…

Be very careful about descriptions. The average person’s ‘good condition’ will not be the same as an expert collector’s. So stick to facts rather than opinions: no missing pages; no writing on the issue; describe bad creasing; rips. Photos can be really useful here. Again, there’s more advice on the Magforum.com Collecting page.

I’ve no idea if they’re actually selling at that price..

The thing to do is to build and save searches on eBay to get a feel for the market. You’ll find tips on doing this at the ‘Useful ebay searches‘ section on my Magforumcollecting page.

Four things to blame magazines for

May 18, 2016

Four things to blame magazines for.

The ‘greatest liar on Earth’

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

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

Louis de Rougemont conned the Victorian world with his fantastic accounts of being shipwrecked and spending decades fighting off sea monsters and living with cannibals in Australia.

What brought his stories to the public attention was the 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 and the US 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.

His tall tales were eventually debunked. In truth, de Rougemont’s real name was Henri Louis Grin and he was born in Switzerland. He had several jobs before ending up in Australia.  After the scandal, Grin became a music-hall attraction, billed in South Africa as ‘The greatest liar on earth’. As ‘Louis Redman’, he died in London in 1921.

His life inspired books 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 as ‘a breathless story’ and ‘theatrical pop-up book’.

Banner advertising

Hot Wired website from 12 December 1997

Hot Wired website from 12 December 1997

The online magazine HotWired is credited as being the first website to sell banner advertising in large quantities. It also coined the term ‘banner ad’ and established the idea of providing reports on clickthrough rates to its advertisers. The US phone company AT&T bought HotWired‘s first first banner, which went online on 27 October 1994. The web itself was just five years old, having been invented by the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee while working as a software engineer at CERN, the particle physics laboratory near Geneva.

The swindling Horatio Bottomley

 John Bull cover from 1917 is a good example of Bottomley

This 1917 John Bull exemplifies Bottomley’s self-promotion

Horatio Bottomley was the founding chairman of the Financial Times, twice an MP and one of the greatest orators of the Edwardian era. His Great Patriotic Rally a few months into the start of the First World War saw London’s Albert Hall crammed with 12,000 people. Yet, he had been forced to resign from his first seat as a Liberal MP after filing for bankruptcy in 1912.

The foundation of his mass popularity was the weekly magazine John Bull. By 1915 it was selling a million copies a week with Bottomley’s editorials thundering from the cover of every issue. It was the pulpit from which he supported his money-making schemes and fended off his enemies.

However, Bottomley was pursued by one of the men he had robbed over many years and finally sentenced to seven years hard labour for fraud in 1922. He blew most of the money he had swindled on champagne and horse-racing. Bottomley’s house near Eastbourne, The Dicker, is now Bede’s school.

Celebrity culture

The first issue of Hello from 21 May 1988 with Princess Anne on the cover

The first issue of Hello! from 21 May 1988 with Princess Anne on the cover

Hello arrived in Britain from Spain in 1988. Subjects were given approval of the article and pictures head of publication, encouraging a fawning attitude towards anyone who could sell a few copies that week.

The parent title, Hola!, focused on royalty but rival OK! went after actors and pop celebrities. Owner Richard Desmond famously signed up the Beckhams and the two titles fought a massive battle over access to photographs of the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

Soon all the publishers were jumping up and down on the bandwagon, such as Here!, with Heat moving away from its focus on entertainment to carry cover pictures of stars at their ugliest. Soon Closer (to the stars) and Now joined the fray every week. There was even a magazine just called Celebrity. The launches took their toll on the mainstream women’s weekly magazines.

In the US, Talk hit the streets, but it was a rare failure for the self-exiled British editor Tina Brown, despite having Hillary (opening up), Gwyneth (going bad) and George W. (getting real) on the cover (surely you know who I mean?).