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1930s sheet music from the collection of Terry Berger

During the 1930s Tin Pan Alley produced the most tuneful popular music the world will probably ever see. Because the phonograph was still being developed and was not in general use, the populace produced their own music at home—generally on the piano. The success of a new song was gauged by the sale of the sheet music printed up so people could play it at home. And what wonderfully designed covers were produced to attract customers in the music stores. Art Deco was the style of the day, and here it is in abundance. And the performers’ photographs have become an archive of the great professional musicians, band leaders, and singers who were the superstars of their day. For a while Terry went through a mania of collecting sheet music and has boxes of it, from which a very few of the more interesting ones are shown here. Continue Reading…

Beautiful Pens and Pencils

One of my favourite advertisements for anything, let alone pens, is this beautiful one for Swan Fountain Pens, from a 1914 issue of the Royal Academy magazine.  The image suggests that the art of writing was an activity held in high regard. Continue Reading…

Jaap Roos, if you read this, forgive me

(First published in “Trinity Today”, the electronic newsletter of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Strathcona, AB in Dec/2015.)

By Adrian Peetoom

In my (Dutch) grade six my seatmate (at a twin desk) was Jaap Roos. Jaap was the oldest son of the village garbage dump guardian. The family lived in a small house next to the dump just outside the village. That dump forever sent up a plume of smelly smoke deep from within its rubble. One school day I stole a ruler from my friend Jaap. I am still ashamed. Continue Reading…

Tailored to Fit:
 On the Importance of Bespoke Ebooks

The Porcupine’s Quill has always been known for creating beautiful print books. For over forty years we have offered handsome editions of Canadian literature whose quality in design and craftsmanship harkens back to 19th-century letterpress volumes. Needless to say, the recent boom in electronic reading, with its emphasis on reflowable ebooks often hastily and imperfectly rendered, is not easily reconciled to the ethos of our press. Continue Reading…

Collecting beer coasters

Anyone with a graphic sense must be delighted with the variety of designs on beer coasters that are slapped down on the bar to await your impending glass of beer. Some are marvels of graphic design and well worth saving. The few shown here are Canadian and American, but the British also produce some collector’s items. My favorites here are the Checker Cab coaster because I loved those Checker Cabs that made life in New York bearable, the Egyptian Pyramid coaster because I’m crazy about all things Egyptian (ancient Egypt, that is) and the Moosehead Beer coaster that reminds me of the many happy times I’ve enjoyed that fine Canadian Lager in a variety of settings. Continue Reading…

On Gaspereau Press’ “Glenn Goluska in Toronto” by Andrew Steeves

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In 2011, Glenn Goluska received the Robert R. Reid Award for his lifetime of distinguished contributions to the book arts in Canada. Sadly he died that year. It is hard to believe that it is five years since Glenn left us – that makes the Gaspereau Press publication Glenn Goluska in Toronto especially welcome. In 2011, Andrew Steeves visited Glenn and recorded him speaking about his early years as a designer and printer. One of these occasions was the afternoon of the day that Glenn was presented with the Robert R. Reid Award and medal in Montreal.

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Collecting book matches

Truly an integral part of the “Good Old Days,” book matches are so bright and cheerful, and so full of memories, that everyone saved them. I wonder how many collections are out there, and what memories they would bring back if we could see some of them. Continue Reading…

Vancouver artists photographed by Yukiko Onley

Working quietly away over the years, Yukiko Onley has amassed a large collection of photographs of Vancouver’s artists from all disciplines. Because Yukiko is herself a world-class portrait photographer, these photographs are well worth looking at, so a small number of them are reproduced here. Yukiko took up photography while living with her husband, Toni Onley. After his untimely death she became a professional photographer and turned out to be particularly good with people and children. Continue Reading…

Chinese paper rubbings

The first form of printing consisted of rubbings from Chinese tombs shortly after the invention of paper at least 1,500 years ago. Numbers of copies could be made from the carved stones to propagate cultural myths, but Imperial fiats and regulations were also carved in stone, with copies of the rubbings disseminated. That sounds like printing to me. Continue Reading…

The Savoy Cocktail Book

In the 1920s Harry Craddock was the doyen of Cocktail Bartenders in New York, working at the Knickerbocker Hotel and the Hoffman House. Prohibition, the attempt to stem the social and domestic abuses of alcohol, commenced in 1920, forced him to leave New York and move to London where he joined the American Bar at The Savoy Hotel.

In 1933 he authored the Savoy Cocktail Book which contained 750 cocktail recipes, including the Corpse Reviver #2 and the White Lady for which he was renowned. The book was published by the Savoy Hotel which probably accounts for its distinctive Art Deco ‘decorations’ by Gilbert Rumbold  with its cover’s lavish use of gold. Continue Reading…