Wednesday, March 30, 2005

girl's own graphics

Yes - a comment to CS on the changing graphics of schoolgirls annuals 1950's - 1960's has got me musing again on this subject which in another universe might well have been a thesis or a TV quiz show special subject.

The '50's are the best.

Years ago I was having Devonshire Tea in the Dandenongs and noticed that next to the tearooms was an establishment that would be called a Curiosity Shop in the Girls' Own stories - as curios so often prove to be good receptacles for mystery (eg: confessional note hidden within secret compartment of trophy/souvenir/ugly heirloom).
Further investigation revealed that amongst the wares on display were many Schoolgirl books, one of the earliest collections of this type I had seen. The owner was suprisingly young, his long hair tied in a rather charming pony tail. (He could wear this style freely being many miles removed from the cliches of advertising)
"More hills hippy than city yuppie." my thought bubble might have read, as we struck up a convivial conversation about our respective collections. Even though I had never met a fellow collector of this genre before, thought bubbles would be formal, streams of consciousness would be quaint. He summed up his feeling for the Golden Age of the 1950's and the subsequent visible decline of quality into the sixties and beyond. "They all started talking about music and boyfriends"... he lamented.

'Tis true.
The 1950's Annuals are the best.
Was it the zeitgeist, the zenith for hockey and tuck?

I've linked to this before, but the evidence is here in this gallery.

Comments: girls own graphics

Sometime in the late 50's I was given 3 large cardboard boxes full of Secret Seven, and other girls paperback books, by the older sister of a friend. I just sat down and read them all.

I still tend to look for secret tunnels in houses leading to caves on the beach. I especially want a a book case door, into a hidden room or passage,that opens by pulling out a certain book.
Posted by Francis Xavier Holden at March 30, 2005 09:56 PM

Gosh. That's a great story, FX.
I read a couple of Secret Sevens, and Famous Fives - and I also covet those things - especially the book device.

Actually when I was 11 we moved, and the house next door was found to have a genuine secret passage leading to a hidden room underneath.
Alas, the mystery was revealed to be a Sweat shop, hidden in the leafy suburbs.
My sibs and I were rather slow on the uptake in solving that riddle, but enjoyed exploring the architecture when the house was put on the market shortly afterwards.
Posted by boynton at March 30, 2005 11:09 PM

I've an undated (but pre-WWI)Girl's Own Annual. It's terrific. Brimming with amazingly diverse information:

"The Plain Business of Three Meals a Day", (by an old-fashioned person); "Frocks for Afternoon and Evening Wear"; "Millinery Styles for Middle-aged Women". There are crochet, knitting, sewing and lace patterns ("Novel ways of using coronation braid"). It doesn't avoid controversial topics - Eleanor Rogers, MD, ponders whether going without a hat is harmful or beneficial -- and there are articles on politics, history, language, fruit-bottling.... Also some wonderful serialised stories ("The Love affairs of Pixie"; The pluck of Phoebe the plain" "The hallucinations of Aunt Maria")

If you ever need a pattern for a useful walking skirt or advice on buying a sensible pair of shoes, just ask....
Posted by wen at April 5, 2005 02:07 PM


The Business of Frocks, Pluck or Plain.
Aunt Maria's hallucinogenic Fruit Bottling...

I do have a couple of pre-ww1 books- alas not right where I am now, otherwise I could compare patterns.
Posted by boynton at April 5, 2005 09:55 PM

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