March 26, 2009

Jill McDonald Puffin Illustrator

I thought it may be interesting to post a couple of my favourite childhood books. The Pirates Tale is right up there in the list!

The story was first featured in The Puffin Post in 1968 and was written by the 5 1/2 year old Janet Aitchison.

In 1970 Penguin reprinted it in its on right, as a Puffin Picture book and they said " It contains all the ingredients that one little girl decided she would like to have in her ideal picture book. We hope you will agree that there have never been pirates so bloodthirsty, so ill-fated, or so charming as these".

Its stunningly simple, and charmingly illustrated by Jill McDonald.

Born in 1926 McDonald became the in house illustrator for The Puffin Club from 1967 till her death in 1982. Her art graced the cover of many a Puffin club annuals and remain as bold and fresh today as they did back in the early Seventies. To see more of Jills work head over to The Puffin Club Archive. Thin Puffin has done a sterling job!

Sadly, my copy of Pirates Tale is missing one page, its written so succinctly that the storyline doesnt suffer. However, I do wonder what the missing pictures looks like!

March 20, 2009

The Golden Hinde

Like many people out there, Im a huge fan of the Photography of The John Hinde studio. Famous for being one of the first postcard companys to depict the world in full colour.

I dont know what the allure of technicolor is, but whether Im watching The Wizard of Oz or Charlie & the Chocolate factory, I just want to jump right on in and join in all that fun.

The postcard of The London Bobby (SL63) is one of my favourites and more unusual in that its large format 11 3/4 X 9 1/2 "(297 x 238mm) as opposed to the regular 6 X 4" (150 x 105mm).

I had always enjoyed browsing through the postcard boxes at fairs and boot sales looking for those fully saturated, coloured gems, but it wasnt until the release of Martin Parrs fantastic book on Hinde, that I took note of the name .You can view some of the images from the book Our True intent is all for your delight here. The book chronicles the unique British Holiday camp, Butlins between the years 1960 & 1970. Its well worth a look and dare I say, worth purchasing.

Hindes attention to detail is staggering, as was his desire to get the composition right. On leaving the circus in 1954, he went round Ireland with his camera and a saw. He was so meticulous, that should any part of the view offend him, he would mask it with freshly cut rhododendron bushes. Later he used an Italian company to retouch and recolour the original prints according to David Noble, one of Hindes photographers at the time.

Today Hindes cards are getting more expensive to pick up. Gone are the days when people wanted a few pence for one, but theyre still out there, and if youre lucky you can get them for 50p. The Butlins cards have become more sought after since the books publication, but its well worth looking for some of the quirkier ones. Im rather fond of the Irish Singers at Bunratty Castle (no2./287) photographed by Elmar Ludwig. Im not sure what the retouching house did, but some of those women look like they should be on the set of a Hammer Horror film. Jamaicas Lovely Coconuts 2JM 45 is another treasure, one day id like that enlarged poster size!

There are hundreds of Hinde cards out there and Ill post some more at a later date, but before leaving today, here are a few of his really early colour photographs from his 1948 book British Circus Life, published by Harrap. Interestingly, Hinde became a circus publicity manager in 1944 and started his own company, “The John Hinde Show” in 1954. It was here, he met his wife, the trapeeze artist Antoina Falnoga. Hinde died in 1997, his obituary is at The Independent.

More about the circus another time!

March 17, 2009

Cleveland 1971 Footballers

Im not sure when I first encountered this lovely set of footballers, but these two turned up in a box of oddments at last weeks carboot. Originally given away by Cleveland petrol in 1971, these small plastic busts went under the rather odd title of "Joe Mercer's Great Britain Soccer Squad 1971". It all sounds terribly American. There were 16 in the series that fitted on to a rather unusual circular
black base.

The two here, are Allan Mullery and George Best. If you want to see more, head over to . Not only can you see the whole of this set but also a superb collection of English football cards.

March 09, 2009


All that talk about Action Transfers got me thinking about those childhood transfer booklets, and guess what? I found them! Theyre Fantastic, and even better than I remembered.

Here in all its glory, A Busy Bee Instant Picture Book. Made by Letraset in the late 60s this is Book No. 6 "Make your own cartoons". You can make up to 40 funny faces and figures with rub down pictures.

If you want to know more about this, and the Patterson Blick Instant Picture Books that I mentioned last week, head over to Seven wonder. It has a full resume of the whole series, including some Ive never seen and some Ill never forget.

When I saw The Patterson 3D Blick Peep Shows my heart skipped a beat. Various scenarios came to life in these shoe box sized dioramas. At one end there was a peep hole, and along the top, a cellophane window that illuminated the 3D scene inside. Wow! I never thought Id see those again, and all in one piece too. Heady days indeed!

March 02, 2009

Roll up! Roll Up!

Trawling through a box load of old photographs, I found this old picture. It feels a bit like catching up with an old friend!

On a trip to Southport in the late Eighties I came across this wonderful fairground stall. If my memory serves me correct you pulled the players foot back and he shot a two pence piece, over a void. The idea of the game was to land the penny onto a revolving island in the middle. If your coin landed on the designated target, you won a prize.

I love the players haircut and the simplicity of the kit. I could never work out if he was centre forward or centre half. Either way, I bet he could tell a story or two. The games has echoes of baby-foot, and should you like table football, you'll probably enjoy Nicola Shwartzs book table head over at pocko books.

It was sad to read that the fairground at Southport has since been demolished. I do hope this old fella' found a good home, somewhere!