Sunday, 28 August 2016

This Book is Exchangeable at Half Price




Every so often I will find the name of a long-gone secondhand bookshop stamped on the yellowing flyleaf page of an old paperback. These were a very particular kind of used book store. Far removed from the antiquarian establishments where the price is deftly written in a soft pencil stroke on the top right hand corner of the flyleaf, or who may also choose to smartly cover a rare and desirable dust jacket in a protective acid free plastic cover.

These were the shops who defied the laws of the high brow collector set. They'd splat indelible ink right across the face of the first page, so the name and often the address of the shop was defiantly emblazoned within. It was very clear to the customer, and the proprietor, that every book stored within the four walls of the shop is well and truly branded, just like a herd of cattle. The shop stamp also removed any hint of anonymity about the book's provenance - it may have passed through several or a dozen hands but for one time at least, we know something about its shelf-life history.

The major selling point was that the book is exchangeable at half price - so often accompanying the ink stamp is the price clearly written in irremovable ballpoint. The exchange factor also meant that often these books could often be rather well-worn by the time they'd end up in your hands!

I have vivid memories of so many of these kinds of bookshops which were once common place throughout the nation. The 'Popular Book Centre' was perhaps the most-well known of them all as they were a kind of chain with many branches scattered throughout London (and perhaps further afield). Famously too, these places catered for a range of tastes that could not be satisfied by the more 'traditional' type of secondhand bookshop. Where else in the world could you source American super hero comics, X-rated adult zines, pulp fiction, car maintenance manuals, biographies, the classics, Mills & Book romance novels or ancient sheet music and pop magazines all under one roof? 

So now I'm on a new quest - to put together a collection of these book shop stamps as I come across them. Your examples much appreciated too...

This PBC was just a few doors away from the Hope & Anchor Pub, An opticians shop is on the site now.

Book Bargains states its address as being OUTSIDE number 160 Shepherd's Bush Market - which was in fact a grocers shop in the 1960s. The street numbers were given to each shop unit that was constructed beneath the railway bridge that runs between Goldhawk Road and Uxbridge Road. So Book Bargains must have traded from a stall...

Where were M&D based? Post the Half Price era. Note that the customer got just under a third of the price back 



A rather sparse looking stamp, but enough information to show the name and the (abbreviated) street. Most likely a stall in what was then the world famous Petticoat Lane market.

Undoubtedly a prime example of a shop catering for the massive British package tourism trade that transformed the Costa del Sol region of Spain from the 1960s. And guess what - it looks like Julian's is still going strong...

For 10p, Thunderbirds are Go at POPULAR BK. CENTRE. Why not use an unsightly thick black felt tip pen to really knock down the collectible grade of your recent purchase?


Finally, here's one hailing from the US. I recall spending about half a day in this place. Late 80s I reckon. What a treasure trove of amazing books, and so sad to learn that it has now 'TOO' bitten the dust...


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Some Olympic Games Stamps


With the 31st Olympic Games just about to commence, I thought I'd delve into my old stamp collection to check out some examples of the Olympic commemorative issues that went on sale around the world during the 20th Century. 

There must have been thousands of Olympics stamps printed by the host nations and the participating countries since 1896, when a set of 12 stamps based on ancient Greek art and architecture connected with the games was issued in Greece to mark the first modern Olympiad. Since then, there have been many superb designs, as well as the dull and the forgettable. 

So here are a few rather nice examples that I've found:

A finely illustrated swimmer bathed in pink swirly lines: from a classy set of six issued by Yugoslavia for the 1952 Games held in Helsinki, Finland.

The cracking Op Art stamp by the New Jersey-born graphic designer Lance Wyman - this was part of a stylish brand image for the 1968 Mexico games

A cool green pitch for this Dutch footballer. One of the eight Dutch stamps marking the 'IX Olympiade' - held in Amsterdam. It was the very first where the Olympic Flame was lit , and Netherlands 1928 marked a rather less romantic first too - the arrival of Coca-Cola as a sponsor...



The ghostly fencer. The City of Montreal hosted the 21st Olympics, which was in fact boycotted by 33 African countries. The reason? The  International Olympic Committee had refused to ban New Zealand from participating because its rugby team had been touring South Africa. 

South Africa itself was already banned from taking part in the Olympics - ever since the 1964 Tokyo Games - for its refusal to condemn apartheid.



Ghana commemorated the 1964 Olympics held in Japan with 7 stamps, including another one showing a footballer. This stamp must have been mailed sometime around Christmas 1964 - check the holly leaves on the post office cancel. The Ghanaian football team were beaten by Egypt in the Quarter Finals of a tournament that was eventually won by Hungary.