Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Postwar

When I listed this 1950s design book, over 18 months ago, I was sure that it would be snapped up within days.

I was wrong. I had to wait until yesterday to find a buyer. I'm very glad that this book has found a new home, as I rescued it from a skip a couple of years ago. I can happily bin a 13th impression of Rogue Herries, but this rare title was too good to throw away.

These scans - mostly of exhibition stands - don't do justice to the originals, but I think that they convey something of the cautious optimism of a battleworn Britain:

BOAC and BEA eventually became BA, or British Airways. I've no idea why.

This is a stunning exhibition stand that has aged far better than the products it is promoting. By the time I was born, televisions were far more modern-looking, but still seemed to break down on a regular basis. My parents knew all of the DER repairmen by name.

The brand name 'English Electric' sounds rather incongruous, but between 1918 and 1968, they were one of the most successful British companies of their kind.


In a recent poll on a Facebook group I belong to, the launch of ITV was the most popular answer to the question: "Which single event heralded the beginning of the decline of Britain?" The shock of having commercial breaks was more than some could bear and I knew children who weren't allowed to watch ITV.

They missed some good programmes.


I usually associate electric bar fires with the bedsits of 'angry young men' in films like Room at the Top. The image of a frustrated, duffle-coated Colin Wilson fan feeding his last half crown into the meter doesn't quite fit with the glamour of this display.


This showroom promises a brighter future, but the reality was postwar rationing and austerity in a country that had been almost bankrupted by the Second World War:

The book is now in the post. I hope my customer enjoys reading it as much as I have.

17 comments:

Martin Hodges said...

Ah yes, the days when televisions were mostly rented, and often chosen as furniture over technology. We had a set that looked like a mini cocktail cabinet when its wooden shutters covered the screen.

MikeP said...

Damn, I would have bought this. Hey ho, need to pay more attention!

Annabel (gaskella) said...

Those pictures are so evocative. We watched very little ITV, except on Sunday afternoons after Sunday lunch when it was The Persuaders, then The Big Match - football won out, but I did love The Persuaders.

Steerforth said...

Martin - As a child I was taught that only a fool bought their own television and when I reached my 20s, I dutifully rented my television and video. They never broke down and I must have paid for them at least three times over.

Mike - I suppose I was selling it by stealth. The problem with listing books like that is that they need photos of the contents and so far, there's no simple way of doing that without spending at least 15 minutes buggering about.

Annabel - When I was seven, I genuinely believed that I would be Brett Sinclair when I grew up. I've never quite recovered from the disappointment of realising that my life will never involve driving around the south of France, meeting beautiful countesses in casinos.

Rog said...

I love that BEA/BOAC stand with the aircraft flying over an open skylight!

Sadly reminded me of the 1960's-70's in the exhibition world where demarcation disputes became the scourge of the trade with more "old Spanish Customs" than Fleet Street.

MikeP said...

Well, as a result of being reminded that you are a bookseller as well as a blogger, I've just bought a bunch of books! So it all worked out in the end.

Steerforth said...

Mike - A pleasure doing business with you, Mr P. Thank you.

Rog - Yes, that's an aspect of the period that many of us forget, but that working culture is probably the main reason why Mrs Thatcher was elected.

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

annoyingly - I would also have bought this to add to my collection.....

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Why does modernity always look so much more modern in those days?

Or is it just me?

Steerforth said...

Sorry Richard - I'll make sure the book's still available next time.

Laura - That's because it was pre-post modern.

Lucille said...

Jane Audas at Shelf appeal would have loved this book.
How do I find your bookshop?

Steerforth said...

Lucille - It operates by stealth, in the dark corners of the internet.

Steerforth said...

P.S. Just Google "Steerforth Books".

Debra said...

Ah... you lucky people on the other side of the Atlantic who managed to avoid toddler television syndrome...
In my family I had already received lethal doses of exposure by the time I was six, and the tv was not rented...
Who is Brett Sinclair, out of curiosity ?
The description makes me think of the Hitchcock film with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, "To Catch a Thief"..
Yes, yes yes to more nostalgia, if I dare say it...

Steerforth said...

Brett Sinclair is the character played by Roger Moore in the 1971 television series 'The Persuaders'.

Anonymous said...

18 months on the shelf! You may want to look at your (dare I say it) "market penetration". I know of a number of specialist online communities for which this sort of thing would raise the pulse.

Steerforth said...

Anonymous - You're right, but unfortunately it wouldn't be cost-effective to do this. In the time it would take me to do the research into online communities, scan images and write the listing, I could have put a dozen books on sale. I have to prioritise.

It's frustrating not having the time to investigate opportunities or add images to my listings, but at the moment my sales aren't bad enough to give me an incentive to do this.