Tuesday, 1 September 2020

My 2020 Siesta

Normally, after such a long break between posts I'd feel the need for a proportionately long explanation for my silence.

Instead, I'll just say "Covid" and start tidying up this mess by updating some of my more-frequently visited past posts.

But, just to make sure this new post is visible, below is my "state of disaster" and "Stage 4" lock-down recommendation: find a comfortable spot, and read.

As you can see (below), the artist of "La Siesta" or "The Siesta" is Luc Barbut-Davray (1863–1926), an artist who produced many "Boudoir" paintings of pensive female readers.

The Parisian publisher of this postcard is Armand Noyer, who was located at the Boulevard de Strasbourg in Paris from ca.1910 until post-1948. Noyer was a member of the Salon de Paris and photographed paintings for the Salon and other institutions.

The present whereabouts of this 1914 Salon painting is unknown, but a colour version of the postcard was produced at the time (below).

Friday, 27 December 2019

Collecting Haywood, 2019

2019 was a better year for Haywood collecting than I was expecting. I did have better years with a lot less money about a decade back but, as I mentioned in last year's year-in-review post (here), the supply of Haywood material has diminished, so my expectations have been low since at least 2013.

The 2019 highlights are:

[1] Ab.5.1b Injur'd Husband, 2nd ed. (1723) and Ab.7.1a A Wife to Be Lett (1724), bound together in a contemporary binding. Although both are first editions, it seems likely that this is a very rare example of issues of items found in Aa.2.1 The Works of Mrs Eliza Haywood being purchased separately. As the low Spedding Bibliography-numbers indicate, both are very early works by Haywood, and particularly hard to find for this reason. As I mentioned last year, Haywood's plays have been particularly elusive for me, so it was nice to get another copy of A Wife to Be Lett so soon too.

[2] Ab.7.3 Wife to be Lett (1735); my second copy of this edition, but only my third of the play. It is quite worn, but has some wonderful near-contemporary marginalia, which will be gold for the book I am planning on Haywood's readers.

[3] Ab.19.1a Memoirs of the Baron de Brosse, Part 1 (1725) and Ab.19.2 Memoirs of the Baron de Brosse, Part 2 (1726), bound together in a contemporary binding. Also early works; they join my copy of the "Second" edition of Part 1 (Ab.19.1b), so that I now have all editions and issues of Ab.19 MdB.

[4] Ab.59.1a Fortunate Foundling (1744), a first edition (first issue) of one of Haywood's later novels. Again, as I mentioned last year, I did not have any of Haywood's later novels until very recently, so it was great to get another so soon.

[5] Ab.60.1 The Female Spectator (1745), my third set of the first edition, which I describe here.

Also worthy of note are Ab.67.12 L’├ętourdie, ou histoire de Miss Betsy Tatless (1754), which I did not have. It is quite rare, only two other copies being known to me. I now have copies of all of the French translations of Betsy Thoughtless published between 1754 and 1782; Ab.67.11–16—a bit of a milestone for me. Ab.70.5b The Wife (Boston, 1806), the only issue I was lacking of the Bowdlerised American edition of The Wife—another rarity (only one other copy known) and another milestone. I was also very pleased to find my third copy of Ed.59.18 Edwin and Lucy, in yet-another variant binding (above, right). Finally, this year I got a copy of Clara Reeve's The Progress of Romance (1785), an important early assessment of Haywood's writing.

* * * * *

I still have less than half of the Haywood items I know about, and am well short of matching the British Library collection (which has about 55% of the items known to me). My goal as a collector is to surpass the BL collection, which I hope to do in the next three or four years, not to have a complete collection, which is almost certainly not possible in one life time, even with endless funds. My goal as a scholar has always been to simply to have a useful collection. The collection has already proven to be quite useful—providing me with material for original research and publications—but it is obvious that it will get more useful as it gets larger—so my scholarly and collecting goals remain in agreement: more Haywood items are required!

Rocking Chair Reader, ca. 1910

The young woman in this photo is posed with a book on a plain oak rocking chair. The book can't be identified, and the posture of the "reader" is not suggestive of either a captured private moment, or an attempt to recapture a moment of reading, such as we see in some of the previous photos I have posted. Likewise, while the oval inset croping of the image and the plain background suggests that the photo could have been taken in a studio, I imagine that the former could be requested when printing a negative and the latter is consistent with both the chair and the book, so perhaps this photo was taken at home.

The photo is printed as a real-photo postcard; the recto is well-thumbed (which is why I have cropped it out in the photos above and below); the stamp box on the verso is an "AZO"-type with triangle corners, pointing upwards. According to this site, this paper stock was used from 1904 to 1918. The chair in the photo has turned spindles and bentwood arms—although the legs are not visible, this is a style that was common on rocking chairs. Earlier chairs (rocking, kitchen, and dining chairs) often had pressed wood backs, as you can see here.

Although the plain, wide back of the oak chair has a bit of an early Deco look to me, our "reader" is wearing clothes that are suggestive of an earlier period. (Although long hair and high-neck shirts [without mutton leg shoulders] paired with a lace jabot or cravat were common from the late 1890s until at least 1915.) The binding style of the book was common from the mid-19th century well into the the 20th century, which does not help with narrowing down the date of the photo either.

All considered, there are no very strong indicators of date, location, or identity, and those clues that are present do not work together to offer any clue to the (fairly wide) date range indicated by the stamp box, thus the conservative dating above.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

1940s Sweater Girl, Reading

This is a WW2 period, candid photograph of a young woman reading. She is reclining on a art deco couch, in front of a bookcase, with a window behind her. Our reader has shifted to her left shoulder forward, and her right shoulder back, so that the light streams in over her right shoulder, illuminating the pages in front of her. Her eyes are fixed on the lower, left-hand page of the book she is reading.

The verso is stamped Velox, a common Kodak brand in the 1940s–50s according to David Rudd Cycleback's Photograph Identification Guide. The clothes that our sweater-girl reader is wearing are consistent with late War-period restrictions: a drab skirt with a hemline just below the knee, and only a few pleats (as described here), with a short, flat knit, light-weight sweater blouse (here).

As Debbie, The Vintage Dancer explains: "The term sweater girl started in the 1940s with movie star icon Lana Turner. She, and other young women, wearing snug fitting sweater tops were seen as both innocent and sexy. The modest coverage of the sweater said 'I am a good girl' while the two sizes too small fit said 'I have breasts!'" While to "be so flaunting with a woman’s natural assents was taboo in good company," even a more modest, but still snug fit (as here) "emphasized the ideal ’40s torso which was a thin waist, full shoulders and soft, natural chest."

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Lillian and I, Reading

This is another photo that breaks my collecting rules, since it features two women reading magazines, rather than books. I bought it because the age and setting of the photo are significant.

The clothing (particularly the high-neck, boned collars) and the hairstyle (a casual and simplified Gibson Girl pompadour) both suggest a date of ca. 1900–1910—which is relatively early for a photograph to be taken is a domestic setting, outside of a studio.

It is likely that the photo was staged, but (like this one) it is possible that the photographer was attempting to capture a typical setting for reading and it is highly likely that the reading material itself was genuine. (Unfortunately, as with the same photo, while it may be possible to identify the particular issue of the magazine below, I have not been able to identify it, and so the date remains a guess.)

By contrast, studio photos almost always appear to be taken with prop-books, books that belonged to the photographer and that are not actually being "read" by the subject of the photos in any meaningful way. (And, being props, it is likely that any magazine used in a studio photograph was as out of date as those found in waiting rooms today, and so they are unreliable guides to dating.)

On the verso of the photograph the two women are identified as "Lillian and I"—it is not clear if Lillian is the woman on the left, or if this is just the conventional grammatical form for the two women. The vendor was from from Hamilton, Ohio, and it seems likely that the photo was taken somewhere nearby.