Osram Lamps

As a collector of books and art I pick up a lot of period magazines. These have many adverts inside as well as articles illustrated by young artists. You also become exposed to repeat advertising as the magazines get older in weeks and months, and you notice the development of advertising campaigns. 

Below is a selection of adverts for Osram lamps. Most had a quirky rhyme about ‘the housewife’ picking up the shopping. 


Here is a very sweet image with the rhyme ‘butter and cheese, some meat, two stamps – and I haven’t forgotten my Osram lamps!’ The illustration is fantastic, so bright and happy and normally in magazines where colour printing is rare – even for fashion supplements they talk about the colour of clothing in black and white images.


There is then a change in the adverts style from how the Osram bulbs effect the home. ‘Indoor games are more exciting When they’re played by Osram lighting!’. It was a time when people where converting their home to electric light and so Osram wanted these people to be faithful to their brand.


Naturally if you were wealthy enough to have a cook, the advert below would be perfect. Before the war and electric light you would have worked and lived mostly to daylight.



Here are some other images from instagram.

Lyons Teashop Lithographs


 Lyons Print: William Scott — The Bird Cage.

The war had not only hit at Britain’s cities with bombs, but also at the people with rationing. Food and fabric, paper and paint, tea and sugar were all rationed.

It was in the war years that the Lyons teashops became shabby and as fashions started to change in the post war era they looked dated. Materials like wood and paint where mostly reserved and rationed for government use in the post war construction, so another idea had to be devised to make the Lyons tearooms look more respectable.


  Lyons Teahouse. 1951 The 2nd series of lithographs on the walls.

The directors, Felix and Julian Salmon had the idea of refreshing the tearooms with lithographic pictures to make them more appealing. In 1947 they sort advice from Jack Beddington who was the Artistic Director of Shell-Mex.


 Shell Advert by Tristram Hillier — White Cliffs of Dover

The advertising in the 1930’s for Shell-Mex featured British artists modern work with simple text. It had been a public success and an exhibition of the Shell-Mex lithographs in 1939 was well attended.

The art of advertising in London from the mid 1920’s onward had seen modern art projected onto the public with company’s like Shell-Mex & London Transport using artists like Paul Nash, Edward McKnight Kauffer, Horace Taylor and Graham Sutherland to illustrate bold and simple posters.

It was an age when galleries charged admission and in the war years galleries where disbanding and hiding their art collections safe from German bombing raids. This would mean that the colour advertising posters where some of the few artworks to be left open to the public in wartime and where displayed all over the country. It would be the first time the public would encounter these artists.


 Shell Advert by Richard Guyatt — Ralph Allen’s Sham Caster nr Bath.

By appointing Beddinton they relied on his contacts with artists to product the lithographs. Samples and designs where commissioned and the first series of these sixteen prints featured Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Clifford & Rosemary Ellis, Barnett Freedman (who assisted with artistic advice on lithography) Duncan Grant, Edwin La Dell, John Nash to name half. Artists also claimed royalties on copies sold in the tearooms, an unusual practice in it’s day. One thousand five hundred prints where made of each poster in the first series.


 Lyons Print: David Gentleman — Cornish Pilchard Boat

Some of the troubles in printing came from printing trade unions and of artists unfamiliar with the lithography process. Some of these posters had to be hand drawn onto the lithographic plate to be printed, pre-made works where translated from paintings by Chromoworks Ltd, London.

The artworks for Lyons had a press release in 1947 at the Trocadero Restaurant, London, where Lyons often had their board meetings.
A special preview was arranged for Queen Mary.

Many prints where glued to wood or mirrors for hanging in the tearooms, the public could then buy the posters un-mounted and unframed, it’s the prints unglued to canvas and board that are worth more money today.


 Edward Bawden — The Dolls at Home.

Thirty of the Lyon’s Tea Rooms in London exhibited the prints at first. Due to the press and public interest the prints were soon found in all Lyons’ teashops. The success of the first series of prints meant that a second and third series of prints came in 1951 and 1955.

It is worth noting that companies like Guinness started to produce lithographic prints (The World Record Series) to brighten up their pubs soon after. So the series and it’s publicity had an ongoing effect.


 Michael Ayrton — The Spectators


 Barnett Freedman — People

The wallpaper designs of Edward Bawden.

Mainstream British wallpaper design regressed dramatically between the wars, bogged down in a sea of ‘porridge’. But the artist Edward Bawden made a valiant attempt to redeem the medium. ‡


 Roy Hammans photo of Edward Bawden’s Saffron Walden House for the Fry Gallery.

Bawden, studied at the Cambridge School of Art (1919–1921), then moved on to the Royal College of Art. It was here where he studied alongside Eric Ravilious and both were tutored by Paul Nash.

Nash’s connections to Harold Curwen meant that in 1928 when the Curwen Press published ‘A Specimen Book of Curwen Pattern Papers’ — (It was a book of patterned papers for bookbinding and shop wrap and boxes)… Bawden’s work was included alongside Ravilious, Enid Marx, Paul Nash and Althea Willoughby.


 A Sample book covered in the Pattern Papers with ‘A Specimen Book of Curwen Pattern Papers’ behind, 1928

After his time at the RCA Bawden started to experiment with wallpaper designs. In his book ‘Edward Bawden and His Circle’ Malcolm Yorke describes the lino process:

After drawing the design in a soft pencil on thin paper it could be laid face down on a whitened sheet of lino and the design transferred by rubbing with a spoon. Cutting with a Japanese knife then began from the middle towards the edges, the knife becoming a drawing instrument as the hand became more skilled. Compared to cutting end-grain boxwood for wood-engraving, warmed lino sliced like butter.


 Edward Bawden – Bird Nest and Ivy Leaves, 1924

The first known work was never produced industrially, and exists only as a trial print called ‘Bird Nest and Ivy Leaves’ from 1924. Other designs by Bawden followed:

His approach to wallpaper was very much that of a graphic artist. Initially he used lino-printing to produce his own designs, but from 1926 the Curwen Press produced his patterns in the form of colour lithographs.

 Edward Bawden – Ashlar, 1930

It was these designs from 1926 – 1933 that were produced in lithograph by the Curwen Press. Unlike most modern wallpapers, printed on long rolls of paper, the Curwen Press printed these wallpapers as sheets, in sizes up to about 34 x 22 ins. Very few of these sheets survive unused. The reason for printing in sheet form was that the lithographic machines could not support the long rolls of paper. The traditional way of printing wallpapers being to screen print the design or print direct onto the blank role from the woodblock.


 Edward Bawden – Sahara, 1928

The wallpapers printed by the Curwen Press were known as the Plaistow Wallpapers, as the press was based in Plaistow Place, London. With them being printed, “Paul Nash introduced Bawden to Elspeth Little and her ‘Modern Textiles’ shop in Beauchamp Place for a sales outlet, but his royalties over six years and sales of 507 sheets came to a miserly £2. 0s. Lod.” Soon after other shops started to sell them, including: Heals, Fortnum & Mason and Gordon Russell’s furniture shop.


 Plaistow Wallpaper Advert.

Façade sold a total of 3,899 sheets. While ‘Façade’ might be thought just a neutral title, is it possible that it could have been in the artist’s mind because of the popularity around that time of William Walton’s musical suites of that name, based on Edith Sitwell’s poems. Frederick Ashton’s ballet of Faade was premiered in 1931.


 Edward Bawden – Façade, 1933

Bawden’s approach of comic and country images was a shift in British wallpaper design. Some of them form geometric beautiful patterns and others make your walls into giant linocut pictures as you can see from Bawden’s own home.


 Edward Bawden – Rose & Lace, 1938

In the 1930’s Bawden was given the chance to print wallpapers by the Roll and not sheets! This range was called the ‘Bardfield Wallpapers’, after the Great Bardfield artist community, these wallpapers where a range by Cole and Son, with designs by Bawden and John Aldridge. The designs were originally developed in 1939, but commercial production was interrupted by the war. The early versions were printed direct from the wood and lino blocks. Some of the designs were exhibited that year at The Little Gallery off Sloane Square in London, but they were not produced commercially until 1946, after the War.


 Edward Bawden – Knole Park, 1929

Although the designs were popular, and some were featured in the Festival of Britain in 1951, they were produced in limited quantities to order, and were relatively expensive.

Bawden’s best-known design, Woodpigeon (1927), featured vignettes of birds and church spires emerging through windows in a “wallpaper” of leafy trees. Similarly, in Knole Park (1929) with primitive rural vignettes. These were initially lino-printed [sic] but the blocks were acquired by Cole & Sons in 1946. † 


 Edward Bawden – Wood Pigeon, 1927

List of Edward Bawden Wallpapers by Year:

1924 — Bird Nest and Ivy Leaves – Curwen Press
1926 –  Fruit and Napkin – Curwen Press
1927  – Deer and Leaf – Curwen Press
1927  – Pigeon and Clock Tower – Curwen Press
1927  – Tree and Cow – Curwen Press
1928  – Sahara  – Curwen Press
1928  – Mermaid (and Whale) – Curwen Press
1928 – Waves – Curwen Press
1929  – Knole Park Design – Curwen Press
1929  – Lagoon – Curwen Press
1929  – Riviera – Curwen Press
1929 – Conservatory  – Curwen Press
1930 – Waves and Fish – Curwen Press
1930 – Leaf or Seaweed – Curwen Press
1933 – Ashlar- Plaistow Wallpapers
1933 – Node – Plaistow Wallpapers
1933 Façade – Plaistow Wallpapers
1933 – Salver – Plaistow Wallpapers
1938  – Flute – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938  – Waffle / Grid / Cross – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938  – Grid & Cross  – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938 – Stone Ivy – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938  – Grass & Swan – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938  – Rose & Lace – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938  –  Ogee (Gothic)  – Bardfield Wallpapers
1938 Trellis (Periwinkle) – Bardfield Wallpapers
1946  – Quatrefoil  – Cole and Son
1950’s  – Swan & Grass
1956 – Abstract Linear Design – for Sandersons

Malcolm Yorke – Edward Bawden and his Circle  p.54
Lesley Jackson – Twentieth Century Pattern Design  p.74

Recording Britain before the change.

During the Great depression in America artists were employed by the state to make works for the public. It was called the Federal Art Project and from 1935 the project was mostly famous for the murals in post offices, but it also covered sculpture and graphic design work. The project is said to have made 200,000 works from 1935 to 1943.


  A charming picture of an Artist giving Art classes to Navy and Merchant Seamen at the Seamen’s Institute. 1935.


 Vertis Hayes mural ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ painted in Harlem Hospital, NYC.

The director of the National Gallery, Sir Kenneth Clark was inspired by the Federal Art Project in the run-up to the Second World War years. In 1940 the Committee for the Employment of Artists in Wartime, part of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, launched a scheme to employ artists to record the home front in Britain, funded by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust. It ran until 1943 and some of the country’s finest watercolour painters, such as John Piper, Sir William Russell Flint, Rowland Hilder, and Barbara Jones were commissioned to make paintings and drawings of places which captured a sense of national identity.

Their subjects were typically English: market towns, villages, churches, country estates, rural landscapes; industries, rivers, monuments and ruins. Northern Ireland was not covered, only four Welsh counties were included and a separate scheme ran in Scotland.


 Barbara Jones: The Euston Arch for The Recording Britain project, 1943. V&A.

The premonition that Britain would be changed by WWII wasn’t the only motivation for starting the project, the ever expanding suburbs and new roads would mean that Britain was changing into a new industrial age.

The idea of a ‘vanishing Brtiain’ was also not new; in 1877 the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was chiefly set up by William Morris and Philip Webb to conserve buildings in Britain. After the huge loss of life in the First World War, along with death duties, many family mansions where auctioned off and destroyed. (A practice that sadly went on long after the second world war.)


 Rowland Hilder – The Old Cottage, Pulborough. 1940. V&A.

Another motivation for Clark was to help British artists during wartime and keep traditional art mediums fashionable. Many of the works were either done in watercolour or gouache.

In total over 1500 works were produced and 97 artists participated. The works were displayed three times during the war in the now, mostly empty, National Gallery and toured across Britain as a national moral boosting piece of propaganda.


 Kenneth Rowntree – Brent Hall from the South, Finchingfield. 1940. V&A.

The Pilgrim Trust donated the works to the Victoria and Albert museum, London in 1949. A four volume set of books was published and is now highly collectable. Two other books have been edited by Gill Saunders in 1990, 2011 and 2012.


 Michael Rothenstein – Byland Abbey – 4 June 1940. V&A.

These last works to Nikolaus Pevsner:

My answer to that is the War Artists’ Committee which was appointed at the beginning of the war to select artists as records of all kinds of war events. It has chosen its artists judiciously and on the whole put them into the right positions. It suggested to them subjects which were up their street anyway, and it left them an amazing amount of freedom as to how they wished to work. The result has been very good indeed. Henry Moore in the tube shelters, John Piper and Graham Sutherland amongst the bombed buildings, Stanley Spencer in machine shops, Eric Ravilious with the Fleet Air Arm, Edward Bawden in Abyssinia and so on — a record of which any country may be proud.

[And one more case-] Another group of young artists got their chance also by means of such a committee: the Recording Britain scheme of the Pi;grim Trust. Again, they were intelligently chosen to do a job of work which they liked to do: this time, the recording of anything they cared for in any county of Britain — Medieval castles, railway junctions, cottages, Victorian pubs, work in the fields, a deserted mine and iron stove and commandment boards in a church — anything. It has actually brought a few artists right into the limelight who had not before had quite such an opportunity to show what they could do: Kenneth Rowntree, for instance, and Barbara Jones. 


 John Piper – Entrance Screen, Tyringham, 1940.

From a radio broadcast ‘Art and the state’ from the show Art for Everyone. BBC Overseas Services — The Complete Broadcast Talks: Architecture and Art on Radio and Television.

Lilliput, land of the exile.

Lilliput Magazine was founded in 1937 by the Hungarian photographer Stefan Lorant. It was a quirky magazine featuring some of the best artists and photographers of that age.


  Walter Trier cover for Lilliput.

Lorant was a photographer and film maker working in Vienna, Munich and Berlin before the second world war. He edited the Munich Illustrated News (Münchner Illustrierte Press) putting him against the emerging far right Nazi party in their homelands.

Opposed to Adolf Hitler, Lorant was imprisoned on the 13th March 1933 — right after Hitler came to power. The Nazis then took control of the Munich Illustrated News where famously they printed articles about favourable conditions in the Dachau camps for prisoners.


 July 1933 — Cover of the now Nazi controlled ‘Berlin’ Illustrated Press with ideals of Nazi fitness and historical destiny.

Released after six months, Lorant made his way to England, where he wrote ‘I Was Hitler’s Prisoner’, a memoir. He then found work in Britain where he established and edited the Weekly Illustrated in 1934 until he then founded Lilliput Magazine.

Below are some picture spreads from Lilliput magazine. Mostly contemporary pictures linked with a comic line. They really are fascinating to the spirit of the age, mixed with fun.


 The Ruler of Germany — The Terror of the Zoo


 Mother and Daughter — The Debutante


 Naga Warrior — Josef Goebels, German Propaganda Minister


 This little dog is so dangerous that it has to be changed up — “We are free to pursue our policy” Julius Streicher, German Jew-Baiter.

Some the best spreads of Lilliput’s history where made into a book called 101 Best Picture Comparisons From Lilliput or Chamberlain and the Beautiful Llama.

It was the art of using photos of narrative that was new and Lorant was one of the first people to use only photographs to tell a story without words.

In 1938 Lorant became the editor of Picture Post. While researching for an issue in America he decided to move from Britain to the United States in 1940, he became a naturalised US citizen in 1943. In 1993 Lorant was awarded the International Centre of Photography’s ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award. He died in Rochester, Minnesota on November 14, 1997.

Photos from all over the East

Frans Masereel and His Woodcuts

Frans Masereel is above all a thinker. His art expresses ideas. He uses it to render thoughts and emotions which modern humanity has aroused in him. He is thus an enemy of Art for Art’s sake, of pure aesthetics. It is not only Beauty he pursues, but Truth. And he is an individualist: he hates standardization of human beings, of human thought. This attitude towards life he has admirably defended in his series of eighty-three woodcuts called: The Idea, its Birth, its Life, and its Death.

From this standpoint too, from his love of truth and justice, he attacks profiteers, industrial magnates, and warmongers, and on the other hand defends the submerged, the under-dogs, the weak, and the poor. This allies him to a certain extent with such artists as Kaethe Kollwitz and George Grosz, two other champions of the victims of our civilization.

Masereel, however, is more universal than Kaethe Kollwitz, who laments the distress of the labourer, or George Grosz, who castigates the bourgeois and militarists of Germany. Masereel deals with types of all classes and all countries, paints all the sufferings of humanity, not their social distress only. Even technically his work is distinguished from theirs: it looks, strangely enough, much more modern, although he uses quite primitive and well-known means. Kaethe Kollwitz’s art always suggests the technique of the German impressionists, especially that of Slevogt. His conception of the world resembles that of the great Walt Whitman, who, like himself, was a citizen of the world, rather than the child of his nation.

Masereel possesses two other characteristics: an astounding memory for all his experiences and impressions, and indefatigable industry. His whole, rich life is reflected in the works of this Fleming who was born in 1889 in Blankenbergh, where he spent the happy days of his youth — ‘playing much and learning little,’ as he himself says. For a short time he studied at Ghent and subsequently went to Germany, England, Tunis, and Geneva, in which latter town he remained during the war. From Geneva he protested, full of sorrow and indignation, together with his friends Romain Rolland, P. J. Jouve and René Arcos, against that indescribable massacre of mankind, publishing daily in the Genevan paper, La Feuille, satirical and anti-militaristic drawings and woodcuts.

For some years now he has been settled in Paris, high up on Montmartre, whence from his studio table he can overlook the sea of Paris houses. There he works quietly, day by day, and records with unremitting assiduity his experiences. As a result of this industry he has, apart from numerous drawings, oil-paintings and water-colours, already more than 1300 woodcuts to his credit, and he is only in his thirty-ninth year. I know no one who gives such an impression of richness and effortless spontaneity as does Masereel.

This boundless wealth of ideas surprises one, particularly in a series of sixteen cuts which he calls Memories of Home. In this series he often groups seven or eight little scenes round the principal subject, which elaborate it and strengthen the significance of the whole. In each of these pictures there are such a mass of notes, of contrasts which mutually enhance each other, that one never scans the pages of the book without discovering new details, hitherto overlooked.

This simultaneity of presentation has a dynamic force which only the cinematographic film can rival. Many of his woodcut series, especially his picture-novels, have terrific ‘speed’, which makes us turn from page to page almost breathless. This proves the great influence the cinema to which, incidentally, Masereel is passionately devoted — has had on his art. Under its influence were created his picture-novels, such as The Idea, The Passion of a Man, The Sun, My Book of Hours.

These books consist of a series of cuts without any letterpress, and are perhaps the greatest, certainly the most original, of Masereel’s creations. Superficially, these series, which he himself calls ‘Novels in Pictures’, remind us, by reason of their simple technique, of the primitive block-books of the fifteenth century and of the ‘Dance of Death’ series so popular during the sixteenth. Actually, however, they are entirely different. Instead of treating some religious theme, they describe the tearing speed of modern life and the pleasures and sufferings of modern city dwellers.

The Book of Hours is the most beautiful, the most varied, the most richly contrasted of Masereel’s works. This book was inscribed as a motto with Walt Whitman’s words: ‘Behold! I do not give lectures, or a little charity; When I give, I give myself.’ The hero of this novel, who resembles Masereel like a brother, arrives in a big modern city and finds himself thus suddenly surrounded by its roaring traffic. A stranger, he perambulates the streets with an observing eye; amazed, he looks at the motions of the machines; frightened, he sees the gaunt factory buildings and their smoking chimneys. Very touchingly expressed is the pure sensual joy of his first love adventures. His naive love, however, is derided by prostitutes, and he seeks refuge in the silence of a church. Then he leaves the city, laden with sorrow, and travels far and wide. Full of experience, he returns and would help his fellow creatures.

They, however, are too dull to understand him. In a true Flemish manner, Masereel describes the hero’s reaction against this dis- appointment. These cuts are full of life and movement, and powerfully suggest the Film. The hero is now seen making fun of everything, raves about, and does what he can to shock the Philistines. The end of this novel shows us Masereel in a new light; for he often loves to leave brutal reality in order to soften things in the air of poetic imagination. So here: the hero of the Book of Hour: leaves his fellows, seeks the solitude of a wood, and dies alone. Now at last freed from his body he stamps upon his all too human heart that has brought him so much sorrow, and wanders free through the limitless space of the Universe.
The woodcuts of this Book of Hours are, like most of Masereel’s, in black and white, with large spaces. This gives them a kind of monumental power. But as this style is too circumscribed in its possibilities, and inclined to clumsiness, and invites, on account of its apparent easiness, cheap effects, Masereel combines it with a discreet play of white and black lines.

He, however, never makes the mistake of producing tone by complicated cross-hatching, which confuses the lines: with Masereel each line remains clearly visible and retains its own character. The masterly manner in which he is able to render the most varied emotions in spite of his simple and primitive technique can readily be seen in the examples here reproduced.
Amongst these ‘The Lovers’ is an excellent illustration of another quality of Masereel’s genius: the originality of his inventions. How many ‘lovers’ have we not seen since the woodcut was invented! No other woodcutter, however, has treated this hackneyed theme in a manner at once so original and so true. And Masereel, too, sees his pictures from ever-varying optical viewpoints.

A few words must here be added concerning Masereel’s book- illustrations. For technical reasons his woodcuts are generally not very suitable for this purpose. It is impossible to produce an absolute harmony between Masereel’s cuts and the letterpress, since even the blackest and heaviest type-face produces a grey surface; Masereel’s woodcuts, however, are never grey in effect: there is always a self-contained harmony of black and white masses.

The best results, typographically speaking, were obtained by Masereel himself, with the illustrations for Les Pâques à New York. In this book, which was set up under the artist’s strict direction, large black type was used — the letterpress widely spaced, and the type-face of the page empanelled with a thick black rule. In this manner a balance was achieved between the letterpress and the illustrations. In his Owlglass (Ulenspiegel, published by Kurt Wolff), too, the result was satisfactory because it was printed in old German Black-letter. None of these illustrations, however, belongs to Masereel’s masterpieces, because his personality is too strong to be forced into the mould of another’s.

It took a long time before the work of this great artist received the attention it deserves. Now, however, his fame is spreading. In Germany and France enormous editions of his picture-novels are sold out; in America the circle of his admirers is steadily growing; in Russia his woodcuts are seen on the Government poster hoardings. And now his name is mentioned in the same breath with Callot’s, Daumier’s, and Van Gogh’s.

By Edmund Bucher – From Volume II — The Woodcut: An Annual by Herbert Furst.

Stay Put This Summer!

As the second world war broke out, the movement of supplies became paramount to winning the war effort. The control of the railways was passed to the ‘Railway Executive Committee’ who tried to put people off travel with this posters. The National Railway Museum put it better than I cold so below is some text from them:

Stay at home
Once the Railway Executive Committee took control of the network, hoardings were immediately cleared of most advertising material relating to leisure travel. The holiday resorts on the southern coast were effectively closed because of the threat of invasion, and the railway industry geared up for its essential role as part of the war machine moving men and material. Station names were painted out to confuse the enemy in the event of invasion and there was a universal black out removing all lighting which might attract bombers on night air raids.

By November 1939, the British railway network was seriously preparing for war. It was moving extra food supplies, equipment and troops essential for the logistics of conflict. The materials to build the new war factories, the raw materials to make the munitions of war and the men and women who fashioned them all had to be carried on the railways. 

From June 1940, East Coast shipping was heavily cut back, and much of this freight was transferred onto the East Coast Main Line. On some sections, traffic rose by 500 percent.

The public were urged to spend their holidays at home, as the running of additional trains during the summer months and bank holidays were now a thing of the past. Travel for pleasure was discouraged throughout the war, as the railways were now the lifeline of both the military and public services.


Dead Greenhouses

In Cambridgeshire there is a ghost town of glasshouses in a field, they have been replaced with a vast new set of tall metal glasshouses some miles down the road, what is left decaying are there shells from the 1930’s and 40’s — home grown boom.

In the later days of their life with cheap imports, from the plastic covered hills of the Almería region in Spain. The greenhouses in Cambridgeshire where used mostly for garden centre boarder plants until left to die, glass falling into itself like flesh and the skeleton remaining.