Friday, 21 December 2012

1934 Magazine Stand and Bookshop

This anonymous photo of an unidentified newspaper stand and bookshop(?) is not really typical of the photos that turn up on eBay, but it is the sort of photo that does turn up regularly—regularly enough to keep me going back to eBay to see what is on offer.

Here we have, it seems, the proprietor and his assistants standing in front of a counter and display-racks of magazines, outside a bookshop or general store which has kites, film and sunglasses on show in the window.

On display are a mix of popular magazines, from the innocuous (Argosy) to the sort that occasionally alarmed censors in Australia (Love Story and Complete Underworld Novelettes). As well as detective and sporting magazines there are endless film and radio titles (Silver Screen, Picture, Radioland and Radio Guide).

This last magazine, at the bottom, right side of the image, appears to be the 1 September 1934 issue.

Since Radio Guide was a weekly—and nothing dates more quickly than a radio or tv programme, this magazine allows me to date the image to the first week of September 1934. (I found the cover here.)

Notice that on display in the window behind the proprietor is a sign “Circulating Library.”

Also captured in the image, in the reflection of the shop-window at the top-left of the image, is a private and engaging moment of a family passing by. Some fiddling in Photoshop brings out a few details.

Having stopped, perhaps, while the proprietor and his assistants were posing for the photo, we see a father has lifted his infant son up onto his shoulders to watch the event, while his wife looks on.

* * * * *

I am not really sure what an image like this adds to our knowledge of book history: I cannot locate the establishment, though I can date it, the range of magazines is not really remarkable, we learn nothing of the Circulating Library, and proprietors, assistants, and passers-by are much the same now as then.

Perhaps images like these, like evidence of reading, book ownership etc in general, are really only useful when brought together in large enough numbers … which is all the justification I need to keep looking on eBay.

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After my pictures have disappeared again, I have decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files, and will stick with the smaller images (500px) that Blogger is prepared to host.]

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