Archive for the 30s Category

Bewitching June Collyer, 1930

Posted in 30s, Halloween, Photograph, SFW on 14 May 2011 by redwitch1

Unusually, June Collyer (1906–68; aka Dorothea Heermance) had appeared in about a dozen films over three years before this press photo was released. But most of these were for Fox. Her first two films for Paramount appeared in 1929 (The Love Doctor and River of Romance), so the studio obviously decided it was a good idea to advertise their new recruit.

Also unusually, a stamp on the back of this press photo names the photographer: Eugene Robert Richee (1896–1972). Richee rates an entry on imdb (here), where we are told that he was “a studio photographer who worked for Paramount Pictures from 1925 to 1935 and took many photos of actress Louise Brooks during her time at Paramount” before moving on to MGM and Warner Brothers.

The snipe on this photo reads:

International Newsreel Photo 3246 A&C Los Angeles Bureau (O)

June Collyer, screen player, replaces the proverbial black Hallowe’en Cat with the white variety for good luck.

I am not sure that four, stuffed, white cats would bring you much in the way of good luck. In fact, unless the cats were offerings to Sekhmet the Great, Mistress of Dread, Lady of the Bloodbath, Ruler of the Chamber of Flames, I reckon your life wouldn’t be worth a bean.

30s Witch on a Paper Plate

Posted in 30s, Halloween, SFW on 30 January 2011 by redwitch1

This small (152mm or 6 inch) late 30s or early 40s Halloween paper plate, with pleated and scalloped edges, features a witch on a broom flying over the roofs of a cosy little fairy-tale village with colourful roof tops and lots of trees.

The witch wears a 40s-style blouse and skirt with high-heeled shoes, black belt, a tall black hat and short cape. (A bit like the outfit on this 50s witch, but with a skirt instead of shorts.) Her hissing cat is perched on the end of her broom.

In the upper left corner is a smiling moon with red cheeks and one winking eye. Bats are approaching from the left, and golden yellow stars sprinkle the edge of the plate, which has a pale blue background.

It is a gorgeous Halloween party plate but, unfortunately, there isn’t any indication of who made it!

[UPDATE 14 Feb 2011: I don’t know why I didn’t notice it earlier, but this plate is very similar to the five paper plates listed by Mark Ledenbach in his Vintage Halloween Collectibles: An Identification & Price Guide, 2nd ed. (227), 238–39, which are all described as “USA, Beach & Arthur, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, 1930s.” So, there is my answer!]

Mortensen, Preparation for the Sabbat, 1936

Posted in 30s, Photograph, Photogravure, SFW on 23 January 2010 by redwitch1

William Mortensen, Monsters & Madonnas. A Book of Methods (San Francisco, CA: Camera Craft Publishing Company, 1936), contains the above plate, titled “Preparation for the Sabbot” [sic].

According to this essay by Cary Loren, the book “was a distilled manifesto of [Mortensen's] thoughts and a response to the dominance of straight photography.”

Mortensen (1897–1965) championed “Pictorialism,” a photographic method that promoted retouching, hand-working negatives, using chemical washes, and adopting an artistic, painterly approach to photographic art. It was a losing battle, and Mortensen’s obscurity today is the result of the success modernist approaches captured, for me, by Max Dupain’s “Sunbaker” of 1934 (see here).

“Preparation for the Sabbot” was one of twenty photogravure reproductions of Mortensen’s work, “prepared and arranged so that they may be removed for framing without damaging the book” (as the advertisement informs us).

Also “accompanying each picture is a complete exposition of the methods used in producing the print and the artistic principles involved.” Mortensen’s Monsters & Madonnas is now an expensive book (ca. USD400), and even individual, highlight plates, such as this one, are not cheap (you can pay almost USD100 for this plate alone!).

Since I wanted a plate from the first edition, and I couldn’t afford the whole volume, I missed out on the “complete exposition of the methods …” One day I hope to get a copy of the book and when I do I’ll do a further post on the image, or update this post.

Unfortunately—putting aside the photographer’s methods—this composition is utterly conventional. The young witch being anointed by an older witch, the young witch, front and centre, illuminated against a dim and gloomy background, the peasant clothes and furniture, the soft focus. (See here and here—photo no. 2—for similar treatments.)

The only thing at all different is the “broom stick,” which is appears to be a branch from a palm tree, a hint that Mortensen worked primarily among the palms in Hollywood.

It is not that I don’t like this photograph. I love it, and I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t! The model is very pretty, she has lovely pale skin, gentle curves and a very mischievous smile—but I am very easily pleased when it comes to pictures of witches. And even I can see why Dupain’s “Sunbaker” is considered an iconic 30s image, while Mortensen’s “Preparation for the Sabbot” is not.

Still, this is not a bad thing for us, because if Mortensen’s photograph was valued as highly as Dupain’s I would never have been able to buy a copy and you would never have got to see it in such detail!

Easter Witches Return, 1939–45

Posted in 30s, 40s, Easter Witches, SFW on 10 April 2009 by redwitch1

The above card by Maja Synnergren, posted in Stockholm on 10 April 1939, is not of a sexy witch, in fact she is not a witch of any description—although she is at least an example of the very rare not-child and not-hag that I mentioned in my last post. She is here because of what she is doing: she is selling Easter eggs, balloons and Easter witches to a couple of very cute children.

I wish I could say that I had seen a sexy Easter witch doll, but I haven’t. So the chances are that this very pretty street vendor is not even selling sexy witches, she is probably selling hag-witches. Oh well. I have included her here, though, to get you in mood for the cards below and to give you a bit of social context.

And, on this front, I should also note that all of these Easter Witch postcards date from the late 30s and early 40s: that is during the lead-up to WW2, the war itself, and the immediate post-war period. Considering what was going on in Europe, they are surprisingly bright and cheery cards.

Remember, though, Sweden remained neutral during WW2: it did not participate in the war against Germany and was not attacked (though, early part of the war, Sweden and Britain supported Finland against the Soviets; the Fins turned to Germany for help when British support waned. When Finnish/Nazi success enabled them to occupy Soviet territory, Britain declared war against Finland). Norway, however, was occupied by the Germans for most of the war. (For more on this see the Wikipedia entries on Sweden, Finland and Norway during WW2).

And so, now it is time for some real pretty-witches! The first three below I have posted before, but I have two copies of the first card now, one of which has a six-line poem on the verso.

[1943, Glad Påsk]
[1943, Glad Påsk, verso poem]

[1944, Glad Påsk, artwork by “Ain A” or “Ain R”]

[1945, Glad Påsk, artwork by “M.I.” or “M.J.”]

[1945, Hauskaa Pääsiäistä]

[1947, Glad Påsk, artwork by “Kristina”]
[1947, Glad Påsk, witches always have the best cats!]

Jason, over at The Wild Hunt, has just done a brief post on Easter Witches (here), which mentions my previous post on the subject (thanks Jason). He quotes a paragraph from Time Magazine about “odd, intensely national” Easter traditions, and he links to a charming post by Ladyfi on the subject (see here).

It is the feedback to Jason’s post, however, will probably interested you most. Cipolla mentions Sweden’s “witches’ mountain” (Blåkulla)—their answer to Germany’s Brocken Mountain—as the destination for Swedish witches. This mountain is an island off the coast in southern Sweden: its official name is “Blå jungfrun” (blue maiden). Other feedback on Jason’s post, by Elysia, provides a link to a recent article by Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius, Easter—when Sweden’s witches come out to play, in the English-language Swedish online news service, The Local. Definitely worth a read.

The 1930s

Posted in 30s, index on 22 August 2008 by redwitch1

The following links are to all of my posts of sexy witches of the thirties.

  • Naughty Glittering Witch, 1934
  • Mortensen, Preparation for the Sabbat, 1936
  • Witch in Silk, 1936
  • Three Art Deco Witches, 1937
  • Vivacious Blonde Witch, 1938
  • Wholesome Dancing Witch, 1939
  • Witchy Film Fun, 1939
  • Sexy Flapper Witch
  • Hot Flapper Witch
  • Easter Witches Return, 1939–45
  • Wholesome Dancing Witch, 1939

    Posted in 30s, Magazine, Painting, SFW on 11 April 2008 by redwitch1

    The cover art to this issue of The Household Magazine 39.10 (October 1939) is by Walter S. Oschman (fl. 1940–60). Oschman is known today for illustrating children’s picture books and school textbooks (including “Look and Learn” Books and “Dick and Jane” readers like All Around Us (1945), We Learn to Read (1947) and Hello, David (1948), The New More Friends and Neighbors (1953) etc). He was also, apparently, a “Mountie artist”! But, as AskART explains, it is probably because of his background in children’s books that Oschman’s other art is “marked by [its] lightness, lack of detail, and pastel hues.”

    In this 1939 composition we have a woman at a Halloween masquerade ball, dancing in a red dress and witch’s hat, joined by a dapper young man who is still wearing his mask, but has it pulled up. In the foreground we have an elderly couple, silver-haired and smiling while they watch the young couple. They are also dancing, but in a dignified closed position. They appear to be the chaperons of the young couple.

    In the background a brass band is playing. The musicians are all wearing overalls, suggesting a country locale, which contrasts starkly with the dresses and fine suits of the dancers. The country-cloths, however, go perfectly with the harvest decorations: the carved pumpkin Jack-O-Lanterns and bunches of corn, giving a wholesome backdrop to this scene.

    And, unlike last-week’s witch in a red dress, there is no apple, no suggestion of danger, no sinister sub-text, and no implied warning to the young man dancing with his rosy-cheeked companion, or to you (the person looking at this scene). There is no condemnation from the moral guardians looking on because this witch is a symbol of all that was right in America in 1939.

    Vivacious Blonde Witch, 1938

    Posted in 30s, Photograph, SFW on 30 November 2007 by redwitch1

    Margaret Rose Valliquietto (aka June Knight) is described as ‘A vivacious blonde’ on Imdb; and although she worked on a number of forgettable films, for a number of companies, in the mid- to late 30s, her short career was finished by the time they were released in the early 40s.

    This press photo is one of at least two taken of Knight and distributed by MGM immediately after the 30 September release of Vacation from Love (1938) in the lead up to Halloween.

    In this photo we see Knight at the height of her career, such as it was: a magnificent Blonde, White, Halloween Witch. All of her clothes and her props are white or silver: she has the most enormous shiny silver witch’s hat I’ve ever seen, white broom, white cat, moon and bat.

    The cut-out moon and cat look an awful lot like the (black) cut-out moon and cat in the MGM Ava Gardner photos here, Knight even has the same pose as Gardner, riding side-saddle so she can show off her lovely legs, and holding reins so she can sit more upright. (All of which makes me wonder whether the Gardner photos aren’t earlier than I previously thought.) Here are the two cats:

    See what I mean! Verrrrrrry similar.

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