In appreciating things of beauty and loveliness we try not to be insular, meaning that we also have an eye for other things cultural than sheet music. Last week during clean-up we found a small pile of 45rpm records. We breathed a little sigh of nostalgia —those were the days…
We thought it would be a pleasant variation in our Images Musicales Stories to publish some of these covers. Mind, the cover designs are not masterworks but nonetheless charming, and in that way very similar to sheet music.
Next are two children fairy tale books. The record with the spoken story and accompanying music, is engraved on the cover of the booklet (the black tracks, on a thin plastic transparent film). Inside is the written story to read and to look at the illustrations. Of course, the booklet is entirely perforated in the center for the axis of the turntable. Does it bring back sentimental memories..?
The following illustrations are of Sint-Niklaas en Zwarte Piet (Saint-Nicolas and Black Pete). They are funny folkloristic characters who visit children’s homes in the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium to bring presents and treats on the evening of December 5. Or better they were, because Black Pete is now seen as a blatantly racist stereotype. Black Pete is Saint-Nicolas’ loyal servant and he is usually portrayed in black face with a frizzy wig, golden earrings and painted large red lips. This gave rise to a divisive conflict: does a tradition that is experienced by some as offensive needs to be adapted or maintained?
Now sing along with us and Mary Hopkin, to bring back those days my friends…
Joë Bridge created the imaginary character Ugène,a Parisian Joe Sixpack from the Twenties. Joë Bridge was a French lyricist, cartoonist and sportsman. He was famous for his posters and press cartoons. Here is his beautiful portrait.
He had his own advertising workshop and was one of the first to create a complete product marketing campaign by combining a brand mascot (Ugène), a rhyming slogan (‘Ugène pass’ moi l’Odorigène’),cartoons and a song. The product he promoted was a kind of pomander: the odorigène. This pocket-sized nasal inhaler was meant to provide a continuous olfactory shield against the bad odours of the city. It was a small flask containing perfumed oil and a wick to diffuse the fragrance by capillary action.
Joë Bridge’s advertising poster demonstrates how the odorigène could be very useful in a bad-smelling metro.
And —thanks to its antiseptic vapours— the odorigène also helped to prevent influenza and contagious diseases.
The odorigène, what an invention! We’ll stop now and smell the roses*.
This week we won’t tell you a story. Instead we invented a cryptic title to catch your attention: YAFI. That is the abbreviation of ‘yet another fine illustrator’. The artist known as ‘bloehr’ has signed eight covers in our collection of sheet music. The signature is as simple as mysterious: bloehr (not capitalised). We don’t have anything else to write about ‘bloehr’ because —apart from a 1934 film poster— we have zero information about this unknown fine illustrator. That leaves us no other choice than to simply enjoy these carefully designed Swedish covers.