Sunday, 22 October 2017

Words of Wisdom: Moon

“Her antiquity in preceding and surviving succeeding tellurian generations: her nocturnal predominance: her satellitic dependence: her luminary reflection: her constancy under all her phases, rising and setting by her appointed times, waxing and waning: the forced invariability of her aspect: her indeterminate response to inaffirmative interrogation: her potency over effluent and refluent waters: her power to enamour, to mortify, to invest with beauty, to render insane, to incite to and aid delinquency: the tranquil inscrutability of her visage: the terribility of her isolated dominant resplendent propinquity: her omens of tempest and of calm: the stimulation of her light, her motion and her presence: the admonition of her craters, her arid seas, her silence: her splendour, when visible: her attraction, when invisible.”
- James Joyce, Ulysses
[Image: Surreal photo manipulation by Irene Zaka Miraccoon. Visit this talented artist at:]

Vintage Luggage Labels: The Art of the Suitcase

by Richard Davies

Walk up to the reception desk in any hotel today and ask for its luggage label, and you will receive a puzzled expression. Luggage labels, also called baggage labels, are long gone. However they used to be a small but eye-catching part of the so-called golden age of travel from approximately 1900 to the mid-1960s.
We are primarily talking about hotel luggage labels as hotels, particularly the so-called 'Grand Hotels', led the development of these small labels. Hotel chains and many of the world's most notable hotels produced luggage labels, which today remind us that travel wasn't always about budget airlines, overbooked hotels and security line-ups.
Don't think of luggage tags - the small and unremarkable tags where you add your name, address and flight number before boarding a plane. Luggage labels were a form of advertising that hotel staff would apply, using a sticky gum, to the suitcases and trunks of travelers arriving at their establishment. Back in those days, suitcases were rigid affairs, which made it easy for bellhops or concierges to stick on their label.
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For the hotel, they were free advertising. For the traveler, they were a badge of honor if you stayed in prestigious hotels or visited fashionable places, or if the suitcase showed you were a seasoned traveler. Is there a more fascinating travel accessory than a well-used classic brown leather suitcase plastered with luggage labels of hotels from Lake Como to Paris?
Once a label had been applied to a suitcase, it was not coming off. Therefore the vintage luggage labels that exist today were never stuck on a trunk or a case. Perhaps the guest asked for extra labels after a particularly good vacation or tipped the bellhop generously in order to obtain a handful of particularly beautiful ones. No matter how the labels survived intact, there is now growing interest in original luggage labels by travel-loving collectors.
Labels fell from favor as soft luggage started to replace rigid suitcases, and as the grand independent hotels were bought up by chains with centralized marketing departments.
Luggage labels from 1900 to the 1960s were closely aligned to the travel posters of that era, even sharing the same designs sometimes. Whereas vintage copies of beautiful travel posters are often now priced at more than $1,000, original luggage labels have remained more affordable. It's possible to buy original hotel luggage labels for anywhere from $5 to several hundred depending on condition, hotel, illustrator, scarcity and style.

Vintage Luggage Labels

There are several important illustrators who contributed immensely to this area of graphic design. Dan Sweeney was an American illustrator who provided artwork for books, posters, magazines and luggage labels for the Hong-Kong & Shanghai Hotel group. Italian graphic artist Mario Borgoni was known for his art nouveau labels and posters.
As well as the Internet, original luggage labels might be found at antique shows, flea markets, car boot sales, and rare bookstores with decent ephemera sections. Be mindful that reproductions do exist and that sticker books of luggage labels are also easy to find.

Lot of 15 Luggage Labels, circa 1940s

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Sparrow

A quiet, harmless little bird,
About your door I come ;
And when my low "
chick-chick," is heard,
I'm asking for a crumb.
O'er mint and clover-tops I flit,
And through the fragrant yarrow ;
Then, waiting near your door I sit,
A patient little sparrow.
To yon old churchyard late I flew,
And from its gate looked round,
Where marble stood, and willows grew,
Within the silent ground.
The branches drooped, the graven stone
Gazed on the grassy barrow ;
But all was hush, and thftre was none
Awake to hear the sparrow.

In simple suit of russet brown,
I thus am daily dressed,
While other birds on me look down ;
Yet I've a peaceful breast.
No envy for the loud and gay
Shall e'er my bosom harrow ;
More lowly, I'm more blest than they,
A fearless, trustful sparrow !
For clearer note, and richer plume,
And wider wings to fly,
May others higher rank assume
On nature's scale, than I.
Yet crimson, azure, green and gold
Attract the archer's arrow :
Bright captives, too, the cage may hold,
That never held a sparrow !

Now. lady, lest around your door
The bird that comes to-day
A crumb to ask, may come no more,
At heart my message lay.
For I'm our Maker's carrier-bird,
Though seems my sphere so narrow ;
And 'tis a kindly Spirit-word
He sendeth by " the sparrow !"
Art Denis Nunez Rodríguez

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Book of Miracles From Noah to Plagues of Locusts by Richard Davies

The Book of Miracles is perhaps not the right name. 'The book of biblical drama and things we don't understand' may be a better title. This beautiful book about a book is published by Taschen. It contains a facsimile of a mysterious manuscript from the 16th century along with two modern essays of explanatory comment on the history, meaning and importance of this manuscript. The book is a typical Taschen heavyweight production with trilingual text in English, French and German.

The illustrated manuscript was unearthed in 2007 after centuries of obscurity. The original document features illustrations of famous biblical stories - like Noah's Ark and Moses parting the Red Sea - plus numerous historical 'happenings' that were simply beyond the comprehension of Renaissance Europe such as comets and eclipses, floods and storms, earthquakes, malformed animals, plagues, and monsters.
"The Book of Miracles carries many reports of unnatural colours seen in the skies being followed by a catastrophe. A blood red moon, for example, announced a devastating earthquake in Italy."
Each scene is identified through a caption written in German identifying the biblical source, or the event and its date. Taschen doesn't show us the manuscript itself but we learn it was rebound in the 19th century. The book's interpretation of Europe's dramatic events shows how news travelled across the continent and was assumed to be fact, no matter how outlandish it appears now. For instance, dragons flew over Bohemia for several days in 1533 and a spring of blood welled up from the ground in 1550 between Halle and Meissen. There were locusts in Poland, fiery symbols above Lisbon, and an epic bizarre creature in Rome (part donkey, part lizard with a human face on its butt). Celestial events are the most dominant theme.

Augsburg was at the center of numerous European trade routes at the time and stories would arrive in the city by word of mouth from travelers and merchants, and early printed documents.
The original manuscript begins with Noah's Ark from Genesis and ends with the fall of Babylon from Revelation. The book's illustrations are special with many beautiful blues, reds and yellows. Some of the illustrations were apparently inspired by existing etchings and woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein the Younger. We do not know who commissioned the book, or supplied the artwork.

The book reappeared in in 2007 at a German auction house, and was promptly bought by a British dealer called James Faber, who sold it to a private collector. Taschen then arranged to produce this facsimile version. Eye-catching and dreadful at the same time, this book about a book is a fascinating insight into Renaissance culture... and fear of the unknown.
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10 More Taschen Books

Browse Collections of Books about the Renaissance


Sun that sheds rich mellow beams;
Misty hills with golden gleams;
Ripe red fruit in emerald hung;
Empty nests where birdlings swung;
Trailing vines with crimson leaves;
Silence now beneath the eaves,
Where swallows sung from morn till night
A summer song of sweet delight.
Brown nuts scattered o'er the ground;
And now and then a rustling sound
Tells that a squirrel up aloft
Has dropped a nut he has nibbled oft,
For here upon its hardy shell
We see the print we know full well
Was made by squirrel's little tooth,--
Made by him all in vain, forsooth.
This dark, rich moss upon the tree
Is dark and rich as moss may be,
And to the touch it velvet is,
So soft, so fine and silky, 'tis.
Warm coat it makes for sturdy Oak,
To shield his heart from winter's stroke,
And hard it seems to use the knife;
But we with mischief now are rife.
Bright leaves we gather one by one,
Like gems beneath a tropic sun.
Golden brown with specks of red,
Scarlet leaves by sumac shed,
Green with amber shades of light,
Maple-leaves all golden bright,--
They'd make a crown so rich and rare,
It would do for any king to wear.
The sun declines towards the hill,
And sheds his rays upon the mill,
Embedded soft in verdure light,
Reflected in the water bright,
As real landscape was below,
With real sunbeams all aglow;
While ripples circle here and there,
As leaflets drop from branches fair.
by: Watie W. Swanzy