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Queen Victoria's Christmas tree
Sprucing Up – The History of the Christmas Tree
by Lucinda Gosling November 17, 2017

On 23 December 1848, The Illustrated London News published an engraving by J. L. Williams of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their five children gathered around a twinkling Christmas tree at Windsor Castle.  The publication of the picture was to mark the defining moment for the Christmas tree and within a short few years, it … Continue reading Sprucing Up – The History of the Christmas Tree

Snow Babies - Hold Tight by Dorothy Wheeler
Postcards from the nursery: the collection of Peter & Dawn cope
by Lucinda Gosling & Peter Cope November 14, 2017

The magical collection of postcards and ephemera amassed by Peter and Dawn Cope has been represented by us here at Mary Evans for almost eight years.  We quizzed its owners, the authors of ‘Postcards from the Nursery’ (Cavendish Publishing, 2000) on the origins of this incredible archive.  Read on to discover more:   What sparked … Continue reading Postcards from the nursery: the collection of Peter & Dawn cope

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Festive old Father Christmas
by Jessica Talmage November 9, 2017

Nowadays, Father Christmas and Santa Claus are a more or less interchangeable festive character, typifying the spirit of good Christmas cheer. ‘Twas not ever thus however. In Britain, the 19th century Victorian revival of Christmas customs reinvigorated a folkloric figure of old Father Christmas that owed much to mummers plays, the Merry England of Walter … Continue reading Festive old Father Christmas

An illustration of the Tango in action
The Tango Craze
by Lucinda Moore October 10, 2017

With a new series of Strictly Come Dancing on our screens, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the original tango craze of 1913. “Everybody’s doing the Tango, learning the Tango, talking the Tango or watching the Tango. Never, perhaps, has a dance become of such universal interest so quickly…” Thus opined The Sketch in November … Continue reading The Tango Craze

RAYNHAM HALL GHOST (CL)
Top 10 spookiest photos in the archive
by Philip Mowbray October 3, 2017

It’s October, the spookiest month of the year and Halloween is only four weeks away.   At Mary Evans Picture Library we have plenty of images to give you a good scare, thanks to our collection of several thousand images on the subject of the ‘paranormal’. Co-founder of the library, Hilary Evans (1929-2011) was a leading … Continue reading Top 10 spookiest photos in the archive

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The Last Curtsey – Debutantes & the London Season
by Lucinda Gosling October 3, 2017

If you’re passing through Bexley on the south-eastern fringes of London, then try to find time to seek out Hall Place, a Tudor hidden gem with extensive gardens a couple of minutes from the A2.  We’ve had connections with Hall Place for some time through Bexley Heritage Trust, whose archive we represent, but more recently … Continue reading The Last Curtsey – Debutantes & the London Season

Futuristic cityscape
A Transcontinental Metro and other dreams of the future – as illustrated in the past
by Philip Mowbray September 6, 2017

I always love delving into the unusual here at the archive and from spooky spectres to spoon-bending we have it all, but one area I’m particularly fascinated with is the collection of imaginative illustrations dating pre-1960 which fantasise on what the future may hold in the year 2000 and beyond.  These popular images regularly appeared … Continue reading A Transcontinental Metro and other dreams of the future – as illustrated in the past

Herbert Fudge Newsagent 1922
Open All Hours – 12 amazing shop front displays from history
by Lucinda Gosling August 25, 2017

We’re all familiar with the closing credits of ‘Open All Hours’ when Arkwright, played by Ronnie Barker, goes through the daily chore of dismantling his display of wares before shutting up shop for the evening.  Image then, if you will, the hours it might have taken to put together – and then dismantle – some … Continue reading Open All Hours – 12 amazing shop front displays from history

Advertisement for Elspeth Phelps fashion house, one of a series of highly stylised and witty adverts designed by Lady Eileen Orde (daughter of the 4th Duke of Wellington), all featuring upper class characters in various situations wearing a Phelps design.     Date: 1920
Fashion Fantasies – Elspeth Phelps, artist in dress
by Lucinda Gosling August 1, 2017

The Great War was an unexpectedly dynamic period for fashion.  While extravagance was frowned upon, there was also a social dislocation where for the first time women took the place of men in the work environment, and fashionable silhouettes changed in response.  Skirts shortened and widened; military details proliferated and there was a new found … Continue reading Fashion Fantasies – Elspeth Phelps, artist in dress

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Say It With Flowers — but mind your language!
by Gill Stoker July 4, 2017

The concept of flower symbolism goes back many centuries, and examples of it can be found in many countries. One theory for its origin is that in some countries where women were not taught to write they used flowers instead to convey their messages. A famous example from English literature is the madness and death … Continue reading Say It With Flowers — but mind your language!

Front cover from Britannia and Eve.
Wedding Lore
by Tess Hines June 12, 2017

“Married in month of roses – June- Life will be one long honeymoon”. The month of June, and the mind meanders towards thoughts of summer; to exotic holidays, to chaotic family day trips, and frequently to weddings, and all that they entail. I recently had the pleasure of perusing the pages of ‘Every Woman’s Encyclopedia’, … Continue reading Wedding Lore

The Outrage by H. M. Bateman
H. M. Bateman Does the Season – 10 cartoons by the 20th century’s greatest social satirist
by Lucinda Gosling June 2, 2017

‘The Life Guardsman Who Dropped It’, published in The Tatler Christmas Number, 1935.   It’s the Epsom Derby this weekend, one of the highlights of what was once widely known as ‘the Season’ – a round of social events beginning with the Summer exhibition private view at the beginning of May and ending with Cowes Week … Continue reading H. M. Bateman Does the Season – 10 cartoons by the 20th century’s greatest social satirist

A woman in a stylish coat and turban style hat climbing aboard the no. 7 Routemaster London bus which is destined for Holborn by the looks of things.     Date: 1940s
A Snapshot in Time
by Lucinda Gosling May 2, 2017

In 1946, photographer Jean Straker formed a short-lived photographic firm known as Photo Union at 12, Soho Square in London. It specialised in the photo-essay, a form of pictorial journalism undertaken mainly with miniature cameras with lots of detailed images and bridging shots. Four years later, in 1951, the agency went into receivership when Straker … Continue reading A Snapshot in Time

Train spotters
The Trainspotter’s Guide to Railway Enthusiasm
by Philip Mowbray April 5, 2017

A devout railway enthusiast at heart, I regularly enjoy any images here in the archive that celebrate the railways throughout history.  The library’s railway holdings span an eclectic array of subjects and media; from striking 1920s Art Deco travel and advertising posters, through to detailed technical drawings of early locomotives from the archive of the … Continue reading The Trainspotter’s Guide to Railway Enthusiasm

BYSTANDER GREYHOUND RACING NUMBER
Gone to the Dogs
by Lucinda Gosling March 23, 2017

The message on the home page of Love the Dogs, London Wimbledon Stadium’s website, reads, “sadly Wimbledon will be finally closing its doors on Saturday 25th March after 89 years of greyhound racing here at Plough Lane.” After the closure in 2008 of the doors of Walthamstow Stadium’s iconic art deco façade, the Wimbledon site, … Continue reading Gone to the Dogs

Model in wearing silky corset, with girdle.     Date: 1935
A Brief History of Underwear
by Lucinda Gosling March 13, 2017

The first publicity slogan for underwear appeared in the window of a London corset-maker during the 18th century, promoting the efficacious results bestowed by her latest model of corset claiming it, ‘controls the large, supports the small, uplifts the drooping.’ Almost three centuries on, a quick stroll around the lingerie section of M&S suggests that … Continue reading A Brief History of Underwear

Bulldog Club's Centenary Show on 8th March 1975 - The reserve B.I.S. (Best in Show) - Champion Beechlyn Golden Nugget of Denborough with Mrs Dennis Shaw.     Date: 1975
One Man and his Dogs
by Jessica Talmage March 9, 2017

Out of the myriad archives, books and prints acquired by our founder, Mary Evans, since the library’s inception in 1964, that which brought her the most personal joy was arguably the Thomas Fall Collection which came to the library in 2001. The name Thomas Fall is synonymous with the highest quality photographs of pedigree dogs, … Continue reading One Man and his Dogs

Blue and white faconne spot chiffon loose coat with sleeves cut on the cross; matching head scarf with flower detail.  Designed by Hardy Amies for Queen Elizabeth II.      Date:
From Dagenham to Savile Row – Royal Couturier Hardy Amies
by Lucinda Gosling February 28, 2017

I was fashionably late to Valence House Museum on Saturday, arriving about an hour and a half before their 12-week Hardy Amies exhibition drew to a close.  This small, but perfectly formed show in an impressive local museum, has been celebrating the achievements of a man who was not only one of British couture’s finest … Continue reading From Dagenham to Savile Row – Royal Couturier Hardy Amies

The servant of the future -- a robotic servant polishes a man's shoes while he sits reading in his armchair.      Date: 1929
Looking back to the future – robots in the archive
by Philip Mowbray February 22, 2017

Earlier this month The Science Museum in London opened their much-anticipated blockbuster exhibition ‘Robots’, the first of its kind in the world which charts a comprehensive history of robotics, from their early days right through to the robots of the future. I wanted to pick out some visual highlights from our archive, which show the diverse … Continue reading Looking back to the future – robots in the archive

Actress Anna May Wong, Portrait, 1937     Date: 1937
Ladies to Love – A Valentines Top 10
by Jessica Talmage February 13, 2017

Those who remember our Valentine’s Day blog post of Handsome Chaps from History from last year will recall that we promised a similar list of ladies the minute we find an excuse. Well, that excuse has finally arrived, so on Valentine’s Day 2017 let’s kick off our Top 10 of Charming Chapesses with… (Click to read more)

Stout patriots dislodge an  enemy machine gun post from  the dome of St. Paul's using  the usual Heath Robinson  cunning!         Date: 1940
The Brothers Robinson
by Lucinda Gosling January 20, 2017

The William Heath Robinson Museum opened in Pinner in October last year, the culmination of many years’ fundraising by the West House and Heath Robinson Trust.  Regardless of how familiar you are with the work of the so-called, ‘Gadget King’, this lovely museum is well worth the trip to the further reaches of the Metropolitan … Continue reading The Brothers Robinson

A man working in his office is surprised by an elephant putting its head through the window and spilling a pot of ink on a cutout Christmas card (front).  (1 of 2)     Date: circa 1890s
Bizarre Best Wishes – the Weird & Wonderful World of Victorian Christmas cards
by Lucinda Gosling December 12, 2016

10997093: Children attacking a large pudding on a Christmas card. Date: circa 1890s For any student of Christmas festive facts, they will know that first Christmas card was designed in 1846 by John Calcott Horsley at the request of Sir Henry Cole, later Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  About one thousand hand-coloured copies … Continue reading Bizarre Best Wishes – the Weird & Wonderful World of Victorian Christmas cards

A fashion illustration showing models wearing various party dresses.     Date: 20th June 1928
Designing the Jazz Age – Gordon Conway & Mary Evans at the Fashion & Textile Museum
by Lucinda Gosling October 6, 2016

The Fashion and Textile Museum, a flamboyant landmark on London’s achingly hip Bermondsey Street, has been a mecca for fans of fashion history ever since it was opened by designer Zandra Rhodes in 2003. Now part of Newham College of Further Education, the hot pink and orange building, a former warehouse, does not own a … Continue reading Designing the Jazz Age – Gordon Conway & Mary Evans at the Fashion & Textile Museum

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Hell’s Belles – Bell Ringing & the Gender Question
by Lucinda Moore September 21, 2016

Following the news this month that bell ringing is facing a national recruitment crisis, bell ringer and picture researcher Lucinda Moore turns to the archive for a historical look at bell ringing, seen through the lens of the current ringer shortage.Even a quick glance through the wealth of bell ringing images on the Mary Evans … Continue reading Hell’s Belles – Bell Ringing & the Gender Question

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Cream of the Crop – the Pond’s Society Girls
by Lucinda Gosling September 7, 2016

Buy a glossy magazine today and you’ll be guaranteed to find at least a third of its pages are given over to advertisements.  But this is nothing new.  Advertising have kept the wheels of magazine publishing turning for over 150 years.  Some titles in the ILN archive, particularly The Tatler, are bulging with hundreds of ads in every issue, and in … Continue reading Cream of the Crop – the Pond’s Society Girls

The English 4 x 100 metres relay team who won gold medals at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912. From left to right: D. Jacobs, H. M. Macintosh, W. R. Applegarth and V. D'Arcy. Note the high-waisted shorts and T-shirts emblazoned with a Union Jack. Date: 1912
Going for Gold – Britain’s sporting ambitions and the 1916 Berlin Olympics that never was
by Lucinda Gosling August 18, 2016

We are living through a gold rush.  At the time of writing, Team GB has scaled the Olympic Games medal table to reach the dizzy heights of second place.  We’ve dominated the rowing and cycling; there have been medals in track & field, equestrian events and sailing.  More have rolled in from gymnastics and diving … Continue reading Going for Gold – Britain’s sporting ambitions and the 1916 Berlin Olympics that never was

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Finding Rupert Brooke – a forgotten photograph album at Mary Evans
by Luci Gosling August 5, 2016

Mary and Hilary Evans spent more than fifty years collecting the material that now comprises the library and we’re often asked by visitors what proportion of the analogue archive has actually been scanned. A finger in the wind guesstimate might find us suggesting 15-20%, but the truthful answer to this is we don’t really know.  … Continue reading Finding Rupert Brooke – a forgotten photograph album at Mary Evans

Art deco cover of The Dancing World Magazine, January 1922. Sketch by G. Peres showing a dancer on the stage     Date: 1922
The Dancing World
by Gary Chapman July 29, 2016

As rumours begin to rumble over which celebrities might take part in this season’s Strictly Come Dancing, it seems an appropriate moment to highlight a high kicking new collection from Jazz Age cultural expert, collector and author Gary Chapman. Gary’s collection The Jazz Age Club, chronicling cabaret, nightlife, celebrity, fashion and society between the wars is represented by the … Continue reading The Dancing World

Untitled. Middlesbrough docks, sunset 1970s     Date: 1970s
Photographer Robin Dale: Middlesbrough Then, and Now
by Philip Mowbray June 30, 2016

As a native of Middlesbrough, or ‘smoggie’, I am particularly interested in the work of photographer Robin Dale, who Mary Evans Picture Library represents. Dale documented Middlesbrough and the greater Teesside area during the 1970s in spectacular colour photography. (Click to read more).

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From corsets to culottes – A brief history of tennis fashion
by Luci Gosling June 29, 2016

For many, it’s been a tough week to be British, but with the arrival of Wimbledon fortnight, some semblance of peace and order can be found in the tennis enclave of SW19 with its carefully manicured grass courts, tinkle of ice in Pimm’s and, of course, the pristine white attire the All England club still insists is worn by all players. (Click to read more.)

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Colouring in the Past – a History of Colouring Books, Then & Now
by Luci Gosling February 24, 2016

As crazes go, they don’t get much bigger than the current obsession with adult colouring books. Heralded as the new absorbing, therapeutic route to de-stressing and ‘mindfulness,’ colouring in is no longer just for the kids. Johanna Basford’s colouring books of intricate natural worlds, published by Laurence King since 2013, have sold a staggering 10 million globally. (Click to read more).

valentines
Handsome Chaps from History – A Valentines Top 10
by Luci Gosling February 10, 2016

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday and with love in the air, and romance on the breeze, how could we not dedicate our latest blog post to the enduring theme of ‘amour’? To be perfectly honest, perhaps the theme is more lust than love. Let me explain. Over the last year, TV viewers have been treated to a feast of lavish historical drama, with, for some of us, characters who remain indelibly stamped into our consciousness forever more. (Click to read more).

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The Maurice Collins Collection
by Luci Gosling February 2, 2016

Mary Evans’ reputation as purveyors of the quirky and unusual was given a boost last year with the welcome addition of the Maurice Collins Collection to the library’s offerings. A cornucopia of gadgetry and bizarre inventions, Maurice’s unique collection is a celebration of technological advancement, manufacturing prowess and rampant consumerism over the 19th and 20th centuries…(click to read more).

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The Dolly Sisters and Mr Selfridge
by Gary Chapman January 20, 2016

In the fourth and final series of ITV’s ‘Mr Selfridge’ currenltly showing on Friday evenings, two new characters are introduced – The Dolly Sisters. We’ve invited contributor Gary Chapman, owner of the wonderful Jazz Age Club Collection and biographer of The Dolly Sisters, to provide us with an introduction to this fascinating duo. (Click to read more).

harryPrice
How to catch a ghost? Harry Price’s wondrous ‘ghost-hunting’ kit
by Philip Mowbray January 12, 2016

During the recent run of Christmas television, viewers were acquainted with the weird and wonderful world of Harry Price in the TV drama, Harry Price: Ghost Hunter, with the fine Rafe Spall taking on the role of the world-famous ‘debunker’ of the paranormal. Throughout the programme we were introduced to Price’s remarkable way of thinking and his persistent determination to find scientific reason behind so-called ‘paranormal occurrences’… (click to read more)

blackBeauty
Black Bounty – the Mary Evans ‘Black Beauty’ Book Collection
by Luci Gosling January 6, 2016

A very warm welcome to our new Mary Evans blog: The Inquisitive Archivist. They say that every picture tells a story, and, working as we do among a cornucopia of original, historical material ranging from books and periodicals to scraps and cigarette cards, being distracted by the stories behind the pictures we supply is a daily hazard (or perk) of the job. And so it seems natural that we should combine our fabulous archive with our own insatiable appetite for history and bring you… ‘The Inquisitive Archivist’…. (click to read more)