Martinka & Co. catalogue, 1899

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More conjuring. The Internet Archive has a number of catalogues published by suppliers to stage magicians but I’ve yet to see one as large or as heavily illustrated as this. Martinka and Co. was a magic supplier whose premises in New York distributed tricks and illusions manufactured in Germany. To judge by the size of their catalogue they must have been one of the largest (maybe the largest) distributors of conjuring props in the entire USA. If you’re interested in stage magic then reading these pages is like being shown the menu of a banquet you never got to attend. I’d love to see some of their hand-made items, which range from pocket-size tricks to a life-size chess-playing automaton. The catalogue runs to over 200 pages, and is illustrated on almost every page with vignettes of just the type that Ricky Jay liked to use in his books. According to the uploader, the scans were originally intended for a crowd-funded reprint but the present owners of the Martinka name objected. Browse a world of magic here.

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A Book of Satyrs revisited

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Searches for art by Austin Osman Spare continue to lead people to these pages so here’s another link to Spare’s A Book of Satyrs (1909). Spare’s second self-published volume, created when he was 20 years old, was featured here in 2015 but the copy linked to at the Internet Archive was an unsatisfactory reprint with reproductions that did no favours to the fine line drawings. Matters have improved a little with a more recent scan that has better reproductions of the 12 full-page plates. This, like the earlier copy, is a reprint of the scarce original that includes an additional set of notes (possibly from another book) by Spare scholar William Wallace who examines the symbolism in the drawings and some possible influences. Browse it or download it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Form and Austin Osman Spare
More Spare things
A Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare
Spare things
Dreaming Out of Space: Kenneth Grant on HP Lovecraft
MMM in IT
Abrahadabra
Murmur Become Ceaseless and Myriad
New Austin Spare grimoires
Austin Spare absinthe
Austin Spare’s Behind the Veil
Austin Osman Spare

Llewellyn occult magazine and book catalogue, 1971

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A table of contents that reads like a track list from an album by Blood Ceremony: Children of the Zodiac, America’s Witch Queen, Prelude to the Tarot, Sex Magick, The Wizard Way…

Are you a witch? Maybe you are but you don’t know it yet. You can find out by answering the questionnaire in the Llewellyn occult magazine and book catalogue for 1971, a publication which contains a number of witchy articles among its catalogue pages. This is one of many catalogues and publicity brochures from the Ted Nelson Junk Mail Cartons (6,856 items) at the Internet Archive, and is such a product of its time that it’s a shame there aren’t more like it. In addition to a photo of the hippyish Llewellyn staff there’s an interview with Lady Sheba, “America’s Witch Queen”, reprints of incantations by Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner, and headlines set in Davida, one of the typefaces of the occult revival. Among the artefacts for sale are a set of “Aura Goggles” from the Metaphysical Research Group, a company that sounds like something from a Charles Williams novel but which has been trading in the UK for many years, and is still active today. They no longer seem to carry Aura Goggles, however. A shame.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The Art of the Occult
Calendrier Magique
Typefaces of the occult revival
MMM in IT
The Book of the Lost
The Occult Explosion
Forbidden volumes
The Sapphire Museum of Magic and Occultism
Occultism for kids

Weekend links 505

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An imaginary book cover by Toby Melville-Brown.

• At the Internet Archive (for a change): Directory 1979, a collection of John Cooper Clarke’s poetry designed by Barney Bubbles; 25 issues of Wrapped in Plastic, the magazine devoted to all things David Lynch; and Cinefantastique, 1970–2002, the magazine about special effects in cinema whose making-of articles were often the first such analyses published anywhere. No contents list for the latter, unfortunately, but the covers shown here give an idea of the main features.

• “Physicist Andreas Schinner recounted a rumor that the Voynich manuscript can be ‘pure poison’ for a scholarly career, because when studying the manuscript there’s ‘always an easy option to make a ridiculous mistake.'” Jillian Foley on the strange quest to decipher the Voynich manuscript.

• At the BFI: Stephen Puddicombe examines six mysterious paintings on film, and Anna Bogutskaya selects ten examples of Lovecraftian cinema. Regarding the latter, I deplore the omission of Huan Vu’s Die Farbe (2011).

• In The Driver’s Seat: Neil Fox on the demented fun of Nicolas Winding Refn’s streaming site for cinematic obscurities, ByNWR.

• “Feed your head”: Akim Reinhardt on the progress of a White Rabbit from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s novel to Grace Slick’s song.

• Mixes of the week: Marshland: The Andrew Weatherall Mix, and Music’s Not For Everyone, hours of Weatherall mixes at NTS.

Borderland, an album of music by Fordell Research Unit based on The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

• At Dangerous Minds: Thirteen-year-old Mariangela and her adventurous pop album, produced by Vangelis, 1975.

• Heavy Metal, Year One: Kory Grow on the inside story of Black Sabbath’s groundbreaking debut.

• “Theire Soe Admirable Herbe”: How the English Found Cannabis by Benjamin Breen.

Derek Jarman and friends in Dungeness: unseen pictures.

Closing periods at Flickr.

Heavy Rock (1976) by Sound Dimension | Heavy Denim (1994) by Stereolab | Heavy Soul (2002) by The Black Keys

Sculptured Melodies by Mera Sett

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Another week, another link to the Internet Archive. It’s hard to resist reporting these discoveries when so many are either surprising, much-needed, or—as in this case—fantastically rare and obscure. Sculptured Melodies (1922) was a book of short stories published privately in Britain in an edition of 500 copies. The possibly pseudonymous author and illustrator, Mera Sett, is so off the map that almost all the available information seems to derive from a series of posts about the book by John Hirschhorn Smith of Side Real Press. (The Internet Archive scan is also from Smith’s own copy of the book.) Each story is inspired by a piece of music, and written “in a decadent style reminiscent of Pierre Louÿs”; Orientalist or Ancient World exotica is the predominant tone.

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Whoever the author was, he (it does at least seem to be a he) illustrated his stories in the post-Beardsley idiom that continued to a feature of publishing in the 1920s. The drawings are very much the work of an enthusiastic amateur, although the same might be said of Sett’s better-known contemporary, Alastair (Hans Henning Voigt), another follower in Beardsley’s wake who compensated for his uneven figure drawing with copious decoration and outrageous costumes. Sett also uses decoration to disguise his shortcomings, borrowing some of Aubrey’s Japonisme peacocks along with other motifs from Persian and Indian art. The latter details suggest an unexplored artistic avenue that blends Beardsley’s black-and-white style with the tableaux of Persian miniatures.

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