The play’s the thing

The Spanish Galleon book by John Brandane, 1932

Shelf Appeal likes a dramatic book cover. This is a great and certainly dramatic one despite its small size (10 x 15cm). It came my way from one of those funny cardboard (often shoe) boxes of 50p cheapies found in old book shops of quality. This box was in Tunbridge Wells, if memory serves.

This book is a script for a play, a repertory play. No 102, in fact. The Spanish Galleon by John Brandane & A. W. Yuill. It was published by Gowans & Gray, Ltd in Glasgow in 1932. The University of Edinburgh has more from this series and very handsome they all look to be. My copy is inscribed to a Donald R  Macharen (or something like) from John Brandane, 3 April 1939.

The cover artist is Stephen Bone, son of the Scottish artist Muirhead Bone. The cover design has his name, nice and big, on it. Bone (junior) was a wood engraver, muralist (he undertook a fine looking mural in the Picaddilly Circus tube station in 1929) and war artist. Interestingly his father was also a war artist covering both the First and the Second World Wars. The Imperial War Museum seems to have most of Bone’s war work and very interesting it is too. But without that zing of finish found in Ravilious’ or Bawden’s war work.

After the war, finding his style out of fashion (according to Wikipedia) Bone became an art critic for the Manchester Guardian and BBC radio and illustrated children’s books in collaboration with his wife, artist Mary Adshead. Best of all, he wrote travel pieces for the Glasgow Herald under the pen name ‘Luggage McLuggage’.

I had thought this cover might be a McKnight Kauffer when I first saw it. It’s very like. But instead another name took me on another information hunt, my favourite thing. The cover is printed on glassine paper that is wrapped around a plain book. All the books in the series were made so. It is thoroughly browned now. Indeed it looks like the fire on the galleon has singed the very book itself.

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