Monday, January 31, 2011

Maypole dance

In England there was, for many years, one very curious feature in May Day celebrations, which would have made many American boys and girls—yes and grown-ups, too—stare with surprise. This was the procession of the chimney-sweeps. It used to be the custom in London to make little boys climb up chimneys and sweep down the soot. Now they no longer employ such chimney-sweeps; but in the old days it was their custom, every May Day, to have a great procession of the sweeps in London. On some occasions kind-hearted people helped to make the day a glad one for the little folks of the chimneys by asking them all to a good dinner of roast beef and plum pudding.

Another of the sights in London, on May Day, was the line of stage coaches, which were used before railways were made, all gaily decorated, with the horses smartly groomed, and the harness brightly polished, and the drivers and guards or conductors in their new clothes. The milkmaids, too, used to bedeck themselves with flowers and go from house to house dancing and singing.

As with all celebrations in olden times, some strange ideas were held by the country folk in connection with May Day. One of them was that if you wet your face with dew, on May Day morning, your complexion would be greatly improved. So on the first of May you might have seen hundreds of girls and women out in the fields while the dew was yet on the ground, seeking to make themselves more attractive by this means.

Maypole danceTitle: The book of holidays. Author: Joseph Walker McSpadden. Publisher: Thomas Y. Crowell company, 1917. Original from: the New York Public Library. Digitized: Jan 7, 2009. Length: 309 pages
Subjects: Holidays Social Science / Holidays (non-religious)

This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF. Works published before 1923, in this case 1917, are now in the public domain.

But the great event of the English day was dancing around the maypole. This pole was not one of the small size used in our May Day celebrations, but a big tree. In some cases it took forty yoke of oxen to haul it from the woods, whence it was brought all decorated with flowers and streamers. This tall tree was set firmly in the ground (for it often remained in its position for a year) and round about it little booths and arbors were often built. When the decoration of it was properly finished, the people used to spend the rest of the day in dancing around it.

Washington Irving, the author who wrote "Rip Van Winkle," was so delighted when he saw a maypole on the banks of the Dee, near Chester in England, that he wrote: "I shall never forget the delight I felt on first seeing a maypole. My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers and people*} the green bank with all the dancing and revelry of May Day. The mere sight of this maypole gave a glow to my feelings and spread a charm over the country for the rest of the day."


If I had to choose a favorite bird based on its behavior this amazing bird would be it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948. Political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement through civil disobedience. Gandhi is often referred to as Mahatma Gandhi or "Great Soul".

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, a coastal town which was then part of the Bombay Presidency, British India. In May 1883, the 13-year old Mohandas was married to 14-year old Kasturbai Makhanji (her first name was usually shortened to "Kasturba", and affectionately to "Ba") in an arranged child marriage, according to the custom of the region. On 4 September 1888, less than a month shy of his 19th birthday, Gandhi travelled to London, England, to study law at University College London and to train as a barrister. In April 1893, he accepted a year-long contract from Dada Abdulla & Co., an Indian firm, to a post in the Colony of Natal, South Africa, then part of the British Empire.

In 1915, Gandhi returned from South Africa to live in India. In December 1921, Gandhi was invested with executive authority on behalf of the Indian National Congress. In December 1928 calling on the British government to grant India dominion status or face a new campaign of non-cooperation with complete independence for the country as its goal. On 8 May 1933, Gandhi began a 21-day fast of self-purification to help the Harijan movement. Gandhi returned to active politics again in 1936, with the Nehru presidency.

Mohandas Karamchand GandhiMohandas K. Gandhi, in the 1920s. Scan by Yann from a picture given by Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad.

This work is in the public domain in India because its term of copyright has expired.

According to The Indian Copyright Act, 1957 PDF (Chapter V Section 25), Anonymous works, photographs, cinematographic works, sound recordings, government works, and works of corporate authorship or of international organizations enter the public domain 60 years after the date on which they were first published, counted from the beginning of the following calendar year. Posthumous works (other than those above) enter the public domain after 60 years from publication date. Any other kind of work enters the public domain 60 years after the author's death. Text of laws, judicial opinions, and other government reports are free from copyright.

While the Indian National Congress and Gandhi called for the British to quit India, the Muslim League passed a resolution for them to divide and quit, in 1943. On the 14th and 15th of August, 1947 the Indian Independence Act was invoked and the following carnage witnessed a displacement of up to 12.5 million people in the former British Indian Empire with estimates of loss of life varying from several hundred thousand to a million.

On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was shot while he was walking to a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting.

TEXT CREDIT: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The Eight Dog Chronicles












029-hyoshi frontispieces

029-hyoshi frontispieces a

'Nansō Satomi Hakkenden' is a truly epic novel (100+ volumes) that was published in Japan over a thirty year period in the first half of the 19th century. Its author, Kyokutei Bakin (1767-1848), was blind towards the end and his daughter-in-law had to transcribe his dictation.

Bakin was the first person to make a living solely from writing and he was the most famous writer in Japan during his lifetime. His novel, though well received at the time of its publication, fell out of favour in the second half of the 19th century as western influence gained traction and popularity.

'Hakkenden' follows the story of eight samurai brothers and their adventures - set in about the 15th century - with themes of family honour and loyalty, as well as Confucian and Buddhist philosophy.

The story has been widely adapted in movies, television shows, video games, manga and anime series. It has also been a popular theme for Kabuki theatre productions and the following description comes from the Tokyo Kabuki Theatre's notes about their play from a few years ago:
"..the original novel is an immense epic by 19th century novelist Takizawa Bakin published over many years, but eventually reaching one-hundred and sixty volumes.

The Satomi clan is being attacked and its lord offers his daughter Princess Fuse to the warrior that will bring him the head of the enemy. It is his loyal dog that kills and beheads the enemy and, saying that her father must not go back on his word, Princess Fuse goes with the dog.

Nevertheless, the Satomi clan is defeated and one of its loyal retainers goes to rescue Princess Fuse, shooting the dog, but unfortunately shooting Princess Fuse as well. The eight crystal beads of her rosary, each engraved with the Chinese characters of one of the Confucian virtues, goes flying through the air.

Miraculously, each will be found with a newborn baby. These eight children, all of whom have the character inu for "dog" in their names, eventually meet and join together to restore the Satomi clan. The play features all the stars of the company and follows the adventures of the eight dog warriors as they meet and gradually join together, leading to a climactic fight on the roof of a dizzyingly high tower."[source]

Colorful Morning

New postcard

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winged monkeys flying monkeys Wizard of Oz

"Ziz-zy, zuz-zy, zik!" said Dorothy, who was now standing on both feet. This ended the saying of the charm, and they heard a great chattering and flapping of wings, as the band of Winged Monkeys flew up to them. The King bowed low before Dorothy, and asked,

"What is your command?"

"We wish to go to the Emerald City," said the child, "and we have lost our way."

"We will carry you," replied the King, and no sooner had he spoken than two of the Monkeys caught Dorothy in their arms and flew away with her. Others took the Scarecrow and the Woodman and the Lion, and one little Monkey seized Toto and flew after them, although the dog tried hard to bite him.

The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman were rather frightened at first, for they remembered how badly the Winged Monkeys had treated them before; but they saw that no harm was intended, so they rode through the air quite cheerfully, and had a fine time looking at the pretty gardens and woods far below them.

Dorothy found herself riding easily between two of the biggest Monkeys, one of them the King himself.

Winged monkeys flying monkeys Wizard of OzTitle: The new Wizard of Oz. Author: Lyman Frank Baum. Illustrated by: William Wallace Denslow. Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill, 1903. Length: 208 pages.

On August 1, 1900, the Library's Copyright Office received from L. Frank Baum this hand-written copyright application with required title page deposit showing the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman.

W. W. (William Wallace) Denslow (1856-1915) was a well-known newspaper cartoonist and poster designer when he illustrated Baum's Father Goose, His Book (1899). Following its success, the two men teamed up for Baum's next work, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF. Works published before 1923, in this case 1900, are now in the public domain.

These images are also in the public domain in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris), in this case William Wallace Denslow died March 29, 1915, and that most commonly runs for a period of 50 to 70 years from the last day of that year.

They had made a chair of their hands and were careful not to hurt her.

"Why do you have to obey the charm of the Golden Cap?" she asked.

"That is a long story," answered the King, with a laugh; "but as we have a long journey before us I will pass the time by telling you about it, if you wish."

"I shall be glad to hear it," she replied.

"Once," began the leader, "we were a free people, living happily in the great forest, flying from tree to tree, eating nuts and fruit, and doing just as we pleased without calling anybody master. Perhaps some of us were rather too full of mischief at times, flying down to pull the tails of the animals that had no wings, chasing birds, and throwing nuts at the people who walked in the forest. But we were careless and happy and full of fun, and enjoyed every minute of the day. This was many years ago, long before Oz came out of the clouds to rule over this land.

ARTISTS AT WAR, part two

The illustrator Harry Everett Townsend (1879-1941) was born on a small farm in Illinois. As a young boy he showed early talent, painting signs for local farmers on the delivery route for his father's peddling wagon.

But farm life was too confining for Townsend. As a teenager, he struck out on his bicycle for the big city and when he got to Chicago, enrolled in the Art Institute where he studied under
Lorado Taft. But Townsend remained restless and after two years he moved on to Wilmington Delaware where he trained under the famed Howard Pyle. From there he made his way to Europe to study briefly at the Academie Moderne in Paris.

When he turned 25, Townsend married and seemed to settle down as an illustrator working in New York for magazines such as
Scribner's, Harper's and Century.

Century Magazine

But Townsend remained hungry to see the larger world, and when World War I flared up, Townsend volunteered to cover it. He wrote, "I had gotten drunk, as it were, with the future pictorial possibilities in what I saw, and what my imagination saw, in the warfare that was so soon to come."

Townsend was one of eight artists chosen by the U.S. government to be official "war artists" accompanying the Armed Expeditionary Forces. (Other AEF artists included two other Pyle students,
Harvey Dunn and W.J. Aylward). Townsend's war diary records his excitement about his upcoming adventure:
I left New York in a blinding snow, into the submarine zone with its constant alarms, and through it. My trip through London... with an air raid thrown in.... and the nervous excitement of finding myself suddenly in the war zone, for, while one realized at all times the dangers on the sea, one really felt he had arrived when he found himself in the midst of the bursting of enemy bombs and the sight of enemy planes....
It didn't take long for Townsend to witness the effect of those "bursting enemy bombs:"
Everywhere among the blownup trenches and in the shellholes are pieces of what were once men. Here and there, a whole or a piece of bone; here and there a shoe with a foot still in it.
In addition, the incessant rain and cold spoiled many of his artistic ambitions. Yet, Townsend drew a series of powerful pictures such as this poster:

"Refugees fleeing a storm tossed area, with all the sorrow and misery and pathos that went with it...."

As brutal as his experience was, Townsend believed there was no substitute for an artist witnessing his subject personally:
In hindsight, Tragic and moving... But I knew that not to have seen it during the conflict was not to have seen it as it really was, even for pictorial reference... And I am thankful I was there and I am conscious of the opportunity I had to see and gather material and, better than the actual material, the impressions, spiritual and material, that alone can furnish the inspiration for a convincing pictorial record of what the great struggle was like.
Townsend's wartime experience seemed to have an impact on his style, replacing his light and airy drawings for Century Magazine with a bolder, darker outlook.

Don Pittenger has suggested that great war art is usually not created in the heat of battle, but only afterward, a safe distance from the fighting. Townsend seems to have agreed with this. He wrote after the war, "now I felt ready to achieve something of my ambitions, counting as of little, even ephemeral value , the things we had been able to do during the time we were so nervously, yet energetically, storing up for the future.... Perhaps the greatest pictures of the war can only come with time."

Unfortunately, the U.S. government had neither the time nor the budget nor the interest to commission "the greatest pictures of the war." One suspects that the government was never interested in "great pictures" so much as it was interested in effective pictures for the war effort. In either event, the eight war artists were quickly disbanded and sent home to their civilian lives.

In truth, Townsend seemed to have little interest in pursuing those "greatest pictures" either. He wanted nothing more than to return to normalcy. He settled down in the small town of Norwalk, Connecticut where he bought an old barn to use as a studio, painting domestic scenes and teaching art. And he never moved again.

Desert Specimens

I'm working on a small collection of flora & fauna you might find in the desert
for a new Tiny Book I want to make.
I made this digital collage with my watercolor images and vintage maps.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Don Quixote de la Mancha

OUR RENOWNED HERO. Down in a village of La Mancha,* the name of which-I have no desire to recollect, there lived, not long ago, one of those gentlemen who usually keep a lance upon a rack, an old buckler, a lean horse, and a coursing grayhound. Soup, composed of somewhat more mutton than beef, the fragments served up cold on most nights, lentils on Fridays, collops and eggs on Saturdays, and a pigeon by way of addition on Sundays, consumed three-fourths of his income; the remainder of it supplied him with a cloak of fine cloth, velvet breeches, with slippers of the same for holidays, and a suit of the best homespun, in which he adorned himself on week-days.

His family consisted of a house-keeper above forty, a niece not quite twenty, and a lad who served him both in the field and at home, who could saddle the horse or handle the pruninghook. The age of our gentleman bordered upon fifty years: he was of a strong constitution, spare-bodied, of a meagre visage, a very early riser, and a lover of the chase. Some pretend to say that his surname was Quixada,t or Quesada, for on this point his historians differ; though, from very probable conjectures, we may conclude that his name was Quixana. This is, however, of little importance to our history; let it suffice that, in relating it, we do not swerve a jot from the truth.

Don Quixote de la ManchaTitle: ADVENTURES OF DON QUIZOTE DE LA MANCHA. Author: Charles Jarvis. Published: 1880. Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Nov 8, 2007. Illustrator: Paul Gustave Doré, January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883. A French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.

This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years. See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF. Works published before 1923, in this case 1880, are now in the public domain.

and also in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case (Paul Gustave Doré, January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883) and that most commonly run for a period of 50 to 70 years from december 31 of that date.

Be it known, then, that the afore-mentioned gentleman, in his leisure moments, which composed the greater part of the year, gave himself up with so much ardor to the perusal of books of chivalry, that he almost wholly neglected the exercise of the chase, and even the regulation of his domestic affairs; indeed, so extravagant was his zeal in this pursuit, that he sold many acres of arable land to purchase books of knighterrantry, collecting as many as he could possibly obtain.

Among them all', none pleased him so much as those written by the famous Feliciano de Silva, whose brilliant prose and intricate style were, in his opinion, infinitely precious; especially those amorous speeches and challenges in which they so abound; such as: "The reason of the unreasonable treatment of my reason so enfeebles my reason, that with reason I complain of your beauty." And again: "The high heavens that, with your divinity, divinely fortify you with the stars, rendering you meritorious of the merit merited by your greatness." These and similar rhapsodies distracted the poor gentleman, for he labored to comprehend and unravel their meaning, which was more than Aristotle himself could do, were he to rise from the dead expressly for that purpose.

He was not quite satisfied as to the wounds which Don Belianis gave and received; for he could not help thinking that, however skilful the surgeons were who healed them, his face and whole body must have been covered with seams and scars. Nevertheless, he commended his author for concluding his book with the promise of that interminable adventure; and he often felt an inclination to seize the pen himself and conclude it, literally as it is there promised: this he would doubtless have done, and not without success, had he not been diverted from it by meditations of greater moment, on which his mind was incessantly employed.

Mike Ludlow, Advertising Artist

Tracking a mid-century illustrator's career by way of advertising art is always tougher than by way of editorial art. Magazines almost always make sure to include a credit line for the illustrator -- ad art, by its very nature rarely gives credit to the artist and was rarely signed (or more likely the signature was cropped off in production).


Since Mike Ludlow didn't have a particularly unique style for that era I may have seen many examples of Ludlow-illustrated advertisements and not realized it was him and not, say, Lynn Buckham.


What makes it even tougher to determine Ludlow's career trajectory is that, while I've got a good selection of ads placed in trade publications by mid-century art studios, none list Mike Ludlow on their roster.


Since the Charles E. Cooper studio always made a point of listing who their artists were, the one thing I can say with certainty is that Ludlow wasn't a Cooper artist. He certainly had the chops to be... but he clearly wasn't among that "best of the best" group.


Because of Ludlow's long association with paperback cover art for certain publishers, and because he was among a small group of artists who regularly did covers for Bantam Books AD Len Leone, and because other members of that small group were regulars of the Fredman-Chaite studio, I can't help but wonder if Ludlow was also an FC artist. Since Fredman-Chaite never listed their artist roster, there's just no way to say for sure.


What can be surmised is that, just as Mike Ludlow became more prominent in story illustration during the later part of the '50s, so too did he become a more prominent advertising illustrator. The series above for Douglas DC-8 seems to have been a steady monthly assignment throughout 1960, and the two Ballantine Beer ads below are from 1957. All of this work is signed - and this is all the Ludlow advertising art I've ever come across.



Finally, here's an absolutely gorgeous original, again for Ballantine Beer, clearly from a few years later than the two ads above. Ludlow's style here has evolved and matured to a masterful degree and shows the influence brought on by mavericks like Bernie Fuchs and Bob Peak. If Ludlow was still doing Ballantine ads several years later it bodes well for how his career was going at that time.


During the '60s, like many other illustrators, Ludlow was supplementing his income by tapping into new markets. In his case, based on the many Ludlow-signed record jackets I've found (and continue to find) album cover art for RCA Records became a significant component of his workload.

Mike Ludlow

* Many thanks to Flickr member Paul Malon and Ozepic and to Heritage Auctions for the use of their scans in today's post!

* My Mike Ludlow Flickr set.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Horse Bits

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (8)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (5)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (6)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (7)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (1)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (2)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (3)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (4)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (9)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (10)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (11)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (14)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (13)

Pferdegebisse by Mang Seuter, 1614 (12)

A 450+ page book-come-trade catalogue devoted to tricking out your horses's mouth.
16th century bling. Mad stuff.

'Ein Schönes und Nützliches Bißbuch (Pferdegebisse)' by Mang Sueter is available from the Bavarian State Library
{~A beautiful and useful bit-book (?) for horse teeth} This edition is from 1614, but the original was published in 1582. The images above were extracted from the downloadable pdf and are cropped slightly from the full book pages.

1967 Shelby Ford Mustang

On this day in 1965, the Shelby GT 350, a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang developed by auto racer and car designer Carroll Shelby, is launched.

The 1965-1966 cars were the smallest and lightest of the G.T. 350 models. These cars are often improperly called "Cobras", which was the Ford-powered AC-based two-seat sports car also produced by Shelby American during the same period. The confusion arises from the use of the Cobra emblem, the paint scheme, and optional "Cobra" valve covers on many GT350s (part of a marketing tie-in by Shelby as well as one of his iconic symbols). All 1965-66 cars featured the K-Code 271 hp 289, modified to produce 306 hp. 1965-1966 G.T. 350s were delivered from Ford's San Jose assembly plant in body in white form for modification by Carroll Shelby's operation.

All but one 1965 G.T. 350s were painted Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue rocker stripes. The one exception was blue with white stripes. Contrary to popular belief, very few GT350s were delivered with the optional "Le Mans" (or "LeMans") top stripes, which run the length of the entire car.

For 1967, the GT 350 carried over the K-Code high performance 289 with a 'COBRA' aluminum hi-rise. The GT 500 was added to the lineup, equipped with the 428 Police Interceptor. These later cars carried over few of the performance modifications of the 1965-66 GT350s, although they did feature more cosmetic changes.

1967 Shelby Ford Mustang1967 Shelby Ford Mustang

Description: '67 Shelby Mustang (Cruisin' At The Boardwalk 2010).jpg. 1967 Shelby Mustang photographed in Ste. Anne De Bellevue, Quebec, Canada at Cruisin' At The Boardwalk 2010.

Date: 06/19/10. Source: Own work. Author: Bull-Doser. Permission: All Rights Released. By Bull-Doser (Own work.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I Bull-Doser , the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I Bull-Doser grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.