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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.

Archive for the ‘book purchases’ tag


Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets


It’s not exactly the most appropriate moment to be recommending an exhibition in New York given the chaos in the city following the recent hurricane. However… Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets has been running at MoMA since August, and will continue into early 2013. A copy of the catalogue turned […]

Posted in {animation}, {art}, {books}, {design}, {film}, {theatre}, {typography} | 5 comments »


In the Key of Blue by John Addington Symonds


I probably overspent a little on this charity-shop purchase, the third edition (published 1918) of In the Key of Blue by John Addington Symonds (1840–1893), a personal selection of writings first published in 1893. First edition copies sell for over a thousand pounds so this was an opportunity to acquire something close to the original […]

Posted in {art nouveau}, {books}, {design}, {gay} | 4 comments »


I Wonder by Marian Bantjes


Book of the year, without a doubt. I only bought this yesterday and it’s been another hectic week so I’ve barely had a chance to look at it, never mind read the thing. What we have is 208 pages of unique creations by one of my favourite graphic designers, Marian Bantjes, in a truly beautiful […]

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The art of Sydney R Jones, 1881–1966


Church of St Michael Paternoster Royal and Innholder’s Hall (1927). One of the better secondhand book discoveries of the past couple of years was London Triumphant, a collection of etchings and pencil drawings of the city’s streets and buildings by Sydney R Jones. The etchings immediately seized my attention, being the kind of closely-hatched architectural […]

Posted in {architecture}, {art}, {books}, {cities}, {illustrators} | 16 comments »


Technology, then and now


A recent book purchase was A Century of Punch (1956), a weighty collection of drawings from the humour magazine edited by RE Williams. While much of the comedy is now very dated, many of the illustrations and cartoons yield other pleasures, not least by being a fascinating snapshot of the times and their attitudes. Some […]

Posted in {art}, {illustrators}, {magazines}, {technology} | 2 comments »


Samuel Beckett and Russell Mills


This 1979 Picador edition of The Beckett Trilogy is one of my favourite paperback cover designs. The “illustration” (as it’s described on the back) is a photograph of an artwork by artist/designer Russell Mills and the minimal credit gives no indication as to whether it was Mills who was responsible for the striking type layout. […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {illustrators}, {painting} | 13 comments »


Edward William Lane’s Arabian Nights Entertainments


This weekend’s book purchase looks like an expensive volume but was actually pretty reasonably-priced for a book that’s 126 years old. This is no. III of a three-volume set of the Thousand and One Nights translated by Edward William Lane, published by Chatto & Windus in 1883. I bought it mainly for the copious wood […]

Posted in {books}, {fantasy}, {illustrators} | 10 comments »


Art Nouveau illustration


The cover picture of yesterday’s book purchase complements the month, being a woodcut by Leopold Stolba entitled February from a Ver Sacrum calendar for 1903. The book is Art Nouveau: Posters and Designs (1971), a collection edited by Andrew Melvin for the Academy Art Editions series and the book includes some covers for Jugend magazine […]

Posted in {art nouveau}, {art}, {beardsley}, {black and white}, {books}, {design}, {illustrators}, {magazines} | 6 comments »


The New Love Poetry


Yesterday’s book purchase was a small poetry collection from the magical year of 1967, edited by Peter Roche. Despite its Beatles cash-in title, Love, Love, Love: The New Love Poetry, not everything here is lightweight fare, Adrian Mitchell’s Peace is Milk is aimed more at the war in Vietnam than some object of affection. Among […]

Posted in {books}, {design}, {psychedelia} | Comments Off


Dorian Gray revisited


Today’s book purchase was an edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray published in 1945 by the Unicorn Press, London. It’s rather battered and the spine is stained by some unknown brown fluid that may be blood (which would suit a sanguinary tale such as this) but which is most likely something less dramatic. The […]

Posted in {books}, {design}, {gay} | 6 comments »


Beardsley’s Salomé


So the first book purchase of the year turns out to be the original Dover edition of Beardsley and Wilde’s Salomé. This appeared in 1967, a year after the major V&A exhibition which introduced Beardsley’s work to a new generation and commenced the Beardsley craze that lasted into the Seventies. Not that I’m in desperate […]

Posted in {art}, {beardsley}, {black and white}, {books}, {design}, {gay}, {illustrators}, {theatre} | 7 comments »


Paisley patterns


Kirking shawl design (1850). December is a month when I normally shun the secondhand shops so as to avoid being taken for a cheapskate trying to save money while Christmas shopping. Sometimes it pays to break your own rules, however, as with this discovery, Paisley Patterns: A Design Source Book (Studio Editions, 1989) by Valerie […]

Posted in {books}, {design}, {psychedelia} | 6 comments »


Visions and the art of Nick Hyde


Cover painting: Holy Grove by Gage Taylor (1975). Book purchase of the week was this American collection of what we have to call “hippy art” (or “California Visionary Art”, as its creators preferred) published by Pomegranate Publications in 1977. I’d seen this circa 1979 and many of the pictures inside were used by Omni Magazine […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {fantasy}, {painting}, {psychedelia}, {surrealism} | 65 comments »


Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal


Detail from La Havane by René Portocarrero; photo by C. Marker. This week’s book finds are a pair of titles I hadn’t come across before in these particular editions, another haul from the vast continent that is the Penguin Books back catalogue. Labyrinths I’ve had for years in a later edition (see below) but the […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {borges}, {design}, {fantasy}, {film}, {gay}, {illustrators}, {painting}, {surrealism} | 9 comments »


Kafka and Kupka


And speaking of Kafka, today’s book purchase was this 1979 story collection. The picture on the cover is a coloured aquatint and my favourite work by Czech artist Frantisek Kupka (1871–1957). Resistance, or The Black Idol (1903). Kupka is one of the more unique artists of the period, having begun his career in the Symbolist […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {film}, {symbolists} | 4 comments »


Crossed destinies revisted


Difficult Loves (1985). Today’s book purchase was another in the Picador run of Italo Calvino titles with covers by the Brothers Quay, this particular volume being a collection of the author’s early short stories. I wrote about the Quay’s contribution to book design back in February and their covers remain one of many reasons to […]

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The Chronicles of Clovis and other sarcastic delights


This week’s book purchase (yes, dear reader, it never ends, there are merely lulls between one indulgence of the vice and the next) is a small Bodley Head volume that comprises part of the collected works of Hector Hugh Munro (1870–1916), or “Saki” as he’s better known. I have Saki’s complete works already in a […]

Posted in {books}, {gay} | 4 comments »


T&H: At the Sign of the Dolphin


James Joyce and his World (1978). Despite my earlier statement about not being much of a collector, today’s book purchase (above) was enough to confirm some well-established patterns (obsessions, even) that should make me reconsider any hasty pronouncements. Not so much for the subject in this case—I already have enough books by and about James […]

Posted in {art}, {beardsley}, {black and white}, {books}, {design}, {illustrators} | 5 comments »


The Illustrators of Alice


Latest book purchase is this large format volume from 1972, one of a number of interesting art books produced by Academy Editions in the early seventies. I also have their monographs on Odilon Redon, “insane” painter Richard Dadd, and their collection of Félicien Rops‘ pornographic and “Satanist” drawings which remains one of the few Rops […]

Posted in {art}, {black and white}, {books}, {fantasy}, {illustrators}, {symbolists} | 7 comments »


City of Spades


Today’s book purchase is a secondhand copy of the first novel in Colin MacInnes’ London trilogy (Absolute Beginners and Mr Love and Justice were the others). City of Spades was first published in 1957 but this is the 1985 reissue with a cover by Neville Brody which is the main reason for my picking it […]

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