Posts Tagged ‘1930s’

Cute cats

May 25, 2016

Pictures of cute cats were not invented in the internet age. They have been around for as long as images have been made. These are on cigarette cards collected by my dad’s cousin, Ernie Stevens.





image010These cards were in cigarettes by a company called De Reszke made by J Millhoff and Co Ltd of London.

These date from about 1931. You might think 27 is an odd number (well literally it is, of course) for a set of cards. Maybe the album these are in helps to explain.image012There are nine cards to a page so 27 is precisely three pages. And you can see that the set includes cute other animals too.

The company must have thought them successful. My four photos above include examples from sets 1, 2 and 3. I gather sets 4 and 5 followed in years up to 1935

If you want to know more then take a look at this site –

Yes, cute cats can become a bit of an academic study.

The Omnibus Believe it or Not

February 26, 2015

Robert Ripley (1890 – 1949) was an American newspaper cartoonist who hit on the idea of collecting strange facts from around the world which were then published in American newspapers under the heading, ‘Believe it or Not’. He became enormously popular with both radio and TV shows and I suppose it was no wonder his newspaper articles were collected into an omnibus edition.


My book was given me by my grandfather, but I don’t think it was originally his.


No, my grandad never had a son called Bert to give him a book like this and neither did he live (so far as I know) at the address given.


I loved the book which I will have had for well over 50 years now. It suited the nerd in me being full of facts presented in short and manageable newspaper sized items.

Some of Ripley’s articles are all words. Some are a mix of words with a drawing like the one below.


Back in 1934, when this book was given as a present, facts about the giant mudskipper would have been hard to believe. These days we are more used to such information.

Some of Ripley’s items were largely based on a drawing and the facts can be strange.


Now that sounds like good value!

Lovely book, despite its tatty state. Thanks Grandad.

A South London collection

February 13, 2015

More record sleeves

I was quite amused to find four record sleeves in a row, all printed up for music traders in South London and here they are.


Let’s start on the right.


C and L Weaver were in Norbury. That was a suburban station on the line I took into London back in my train spotting days. Our trains never stopped there so I couldn’t tell you a thing about the place.

The record is


The Darktown Strutters’ Ball played by Spike Hughes and his Dance Orchestra.

Next is


L A Richards of Wimbledon – one of my frequent venues as a train spotter.

The record is a Paul Wightman one called Ragamuffin Romeo.


Third up we have


Rhythm Ltd of Thornton Heath. Thornton Heath was another suburban station my trains used to race through.

The record is a jazz standard.


It’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ performed by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra.

Which brings us to the fourth sleeve –


Willy’s of Deptford.

Deptford entered my life when I was a student. We used to enjoy a Saturday morning jaunt down to Deptford Market, rarely buying anything although I still have one item I bought there to my knowledge.

Anyway this record is


We’re Uncomfortable played by Eddie Norris and his Ambassador’s Band. And this is the one I recorded. I played it on the gramophone I use most for actually playing records. It isn’t clockwork but it is quite elderly.


It’s a battery electric gramophone and so uses a lightweight pick up which causes much less damage to the surface of the record. Normally it is in the cupboard behind it and those doors serve as a great filter for removing the crackle of these old records. The gramophone was bought for my wife’s grandfather as he got a bit arthritic. I think we inherited it back in about 1969. It is still in regular use.

You can click here to hear the record play. The record is really a comment on the uselessness of men back in the 1930s.

Record coasters

January 9, 2015

My regular readers will know that I have a taste for dance band music on old 78 rpm records played on mechanical gramophones.

Another of my gifts at the most recent Christmas concerned such items. Somebody had the bright idea of taking the middles of such records, sticking a piece of felt on the back and selling them as coasters. I was given a little collection of four such items.


I’d like to hope that the whole records were beyond real use. Otherwise it seems a waste of them.

Let’s pick on a couple of them.


Night and Day – a Cole Porter song sung by the Comedy Harmonists. As far as I can make out this was a collection of German singers who operated from about 1929 to 1934


Cryin’ for the Carolines is film music, played in syncopated fashion by Raie da Costa. She came from South Africa originally and sadly died in 1934 so this record dates from the same era as Night and Day.

Search on You Tube and you can here both records. Obviously, my coasters don’t still have the groove with the music recorded.

I rather like these coasters. Actually using them might be a problem for it will rapidly wear away the paper labels.

The Pressure Cooker

November 24, 2014

One of the sounds of childhood for me was the slightly scary hiss of escaping steam from the pressure cooker.

My parents believed in the pressure cooker. By making the water boil at a higher temperature, cooking times for all sorts could be seriously reduced so it was a real economy. That mattered when money was in short supply. But also, a pressure cooker was large and could have containers within it. A range of different items could be cooked on a single stove and that saved even more money. Stews, puddings, vegetables could all be cooked to perfection in the hissing monster. I recall, with particular affection, my mum’s bacon roly-poly. This was a suet based dish with bacon spread thinly through it. It must have been as cheap as possible, but oh so warming, nourishing and tasty.

The pressure cooker I remember was this one.


This posed photo shows it sitting on the electric cooker we used until a couple of years ago. It’s an Easiwork of London Health Cooker and probably dates from about 1930. We no longer actually use this device.

I should add that this device always came camping with us. My mum had but a single primus stove with which to cater for a family of five plus visitors. So the hiss of the bomb (as we all called it) was even a holiday sound as well.

A pressure cooker is still used in my household. It comes into its own, particularly, for Christmas puddings.

Eric Ravilious – October

October 31, 2014

In October I have been looking at a part of Eric’s life that I know least about. I have some familiarity with Ravilious of Sussex, the lover of chalk horses and old machinery.  I know about his work as a war artist which led to his early death when the plane he was in was lost. I know about his design work for crockery.

But his time in Essex is not really known about by me and so this October I have had a chance to discover more.

Here is the picture I have seen for the past month.


This picture is simply called ‘Village Street’ and was painted in 1936.

Eric had married his wife, Tirzah, in 1930 and for a while they lived with Edward Bawden and his wife at Great Barfield in Essex. The more permanent Ravilious home was in the village of Castle Hedingham and that is where this scene was painted. It is clearly ‘after a rain shower’. The road is wet and reflective, but the cyclists and the walker are without raincoats. The whole scene, as you might expect, is incredibly free from motor transport.

The scene is still recognisably the same today, nearly 80 years on, but these days, as is often the case, cars dominate the roadways.


I have discovered lots of really lovely Ravilious water colours painted in Essex. It isn’t a part of Essex I know. Maybe a visit is called for sometime.

A bellows camera

August 11, 2014

I like cameras of all kinds although, of course, as ornaments the older and more mechanical ones are much more interesting to look at. By contrast, they are and always were a nightmare to use.

This is one I have.


We can see this is a bellows camera and after years on display on top of a bookcase it’s a bit dusty and in need of gentle attention. It is very hard, at present, to get the bellows fully open.

The idea of the bellows camera, in this case, was that it could be folded away and made pocket size.


That is, if you had quite big pockets. It’s more than twice the size of the small digital I used to photograph it.

It is, of course, completely devoid of electronics. You the user have to set everything. One part of the lens can screw in and out to alter the focus. The user had to estimate the distance (or measure it) to the subject and set the dial accordingly. The user then had to choose shutter speed, which could be as fast as one three hundredth of a second and the aperture size – up to F3.5. Decisions there would be made on light conditions and the nature of the subject. If you were taking a photo of a moving object you had to use a fast shutter speed whereas portraits of stationary objects might benefit from a wide open aperture to throw backgrounds a little out of focus. Landscapes might need the smallest possible aperture so that everything was as sharp as possible.

These days, for most of us snap shotters, these decisions are made for us by the camera.

This camera is a Zeiss Ikon


The two little red windows on the back could be opened so that you could see writing on the paper backing of the film. It told you how many photos you had taken.


Inside the camera a suggested make of film is advertised.


This was a brand of 120 roll film, but other companies, more familiar to the UK market also produced such film.

I think this camera dates from the 1930s




April 2, 2014

Found between the books

I mentioned yesterday that we were decorating. Bookshelves have to be emptied and that means the odd treasure turns up.

Here’s one of them – a Metropolitan Railway map of London.


That’s just the cover. The map itself opens out.


It certainly makes sure the Metropolitan lines, shown in red, are highly visible.

The map doesn’t carry a date, but there are clues.


Finsbury Park station tells us it is for the L&NE Rly. The London and North Eastern Railway was formed in 1923 and lasted until 1948. However, the old Metropolitan Railway became a part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933. So that really gives the map a date of between 1923 and 1933. For those who like the strange or bizarre items, the map shows the Brill branch.


Between 1933 and its closure in 1935, Brill, a remote village in the Chilterns, was served by London Underground trains!

This map has other useful information.


Cheap fares to Metro-land could take customers to pretty villages and some are shown on the back of the map.


But for people who need the information, central London is explained too


That’s quite a historic piece.

Third Place in the Four Legged Race

March 29, 2014

Paul Piper was my mother in law’s cousin. He was a man I knew for as an adult he left his native Cornwall and came to live and work in Sussex, not so far from my home or that of my then girlfriend.

That he, like his father, had kept a scrapbook, I had no idea until after he died and other members of his family ended up in forms of residential care.

Then, out of the blue, his scrapbook came to us. I have picked one item from his scrapbook here, mostly because it brings a smile to me.

Paul was awarded a certificate for coming third place in the four legged race at his school sports.


His school was the St Austell County School with its motto of ‘learn the power of true labour’. If you judge by the images on the certificate, the sports day must have been a varied event with everything from sack races…


…to karting…


…and what’s this? Bobbing for sausages?


The certificate seems to carry a date of 1925. If that was the year in which Paul won it, he’d have been barely five at the time. I think 1925 was the year the artist drew the certificate which shows the school itself at the top and a view in St Austell at the bottom. Paul would have been a pupil at the school in the 1930s.

What a great certificate – such a fun family item. The school itself has evolved and changed but memories are kept alive on its web site.

Three Ladies

January 12, 2014

Three ladies – but who are they?

This photo is from one of my Grandad’s negatives. If you read regularly you may recall that, despite lack of money, Grandad took photos and had the film developed at a local chemist shop. He then contact printed some photos at home. I do not know if he ever had this one printed for I only know it from the negative.


Now I have no idea who these lovely ladies are and of course a negative provides no information. Other negatives with this one show family members and date from the 1920s and 30s so I guess this dates from that era. Having said this, these three could almost be the gossiping ladies – Norah Batty and co, in BBC TVs long running ‘Last of the Summer Wine’.

It will come as no surprise that fashion doesn’t much interest me but maybe somebody who knows about clothes could give a rough period to the wearing apparel of these three.

My grandparents lived in Bexhill so there is some chance they came from there.

It must be a million to one shot, but does anybody know who the ladies are?