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The Musicians’ Journal, No. 27 (January 1928)

In this New Year message, the Journal linked its ambition to increase subscriptions with two other campaigns. It targets Armed Forces Bands for playing public concerts free of charge and undermining civilian musicians’ employment. And it scorns what one official called “a glorified Gramophone, the Panatrope, the proprietors of which seem to think it is going to do away with orchestras. …There does not seem to be any immediate danger of this Machine being used extensively to the detriment of our members.”

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 4 (January 1930)

This cartoon was reproduced in the Journal thanks to the American Federation of Musicians. Unlike the British cartoonists’ work, which invariably centres on the human figures involved, it is pointedly satirical of the anti-human nature of the machinery. Cupid’s harp (emblem of the movies’ desire to be seen as an art form) is wrecked, and the terrier parodies the mascot for His Master’s Voice. The yowling mutt turns its back on the cranky apparatus, whereas in the famous company logo a serene Nipper focuses lovingly on the gramophone horn. 

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 5 (April 1930)

Returning to its battle against unfair competition from Army Bands, the Journal here directed its fire at no less a person than Tom Shaw, Secretary for War in Ramsay MacDonald’s second Labour Government. In a blistering attack on him and Manny Shinwell (Financial Secretary to the War Office) it presented persuasive evidence of serial engagements of Forces Bands in seaside resorts and accused the ministers of evading a major social issue while 4,000 civilian musicians were out of work.

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 7 (October 1930)

This cartoon first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News. It reflected the fears of some Musicians’ Union writers about the possible cultural impact of Hollywood talkies on British audiences. One drew attention to the prospect that audiences would have musical tastes forced on them by film companies, whereas a resident orchestra could respond to local tastes. Worse, the children of England might perhaps learn to speak with an American accent and abandon their own “homely and honest” dialects.

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‘Moresque’ wallpaper designed by Owen Jones

Registered by John Trumble & Co on 23 June 1858. BT 43/97/114049. The principles of design set out by Pugin were taken up by the design reform movement based around the Government School of Design in South Kensington. A key figure in the movement was Owen Jones. Jones travelled widely, researching different styles of design which were brought together and categorised in his hugely influential book The Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856. He was particularly inspired by Islamic design, as can be seen in this wallpaper, and led the way in the nineteenth century revival of what was termed the Moorish style in architecture and decoration.

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‘Daisy’ wallpaper designed by William Morris

Registered by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co on 1 February 1864. BT 43/99/171341. ‘Daisy’ was the first wallpaper designed by William Morris to be put into production. Morris, like the Pre-Raphaelite painters with whom he set up Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, shared Pugin’s passion for medieval art, culture and design, as well as his belief in the intrinsic value of hand craftsmanship and dislike of contemporary British design. ‘Daisy’, formed of stylised floral motifs, is thought to have been inspired by an illustration in a fifteenth-century version of Froissart’s Chronicles, shown in an illuminated manuscript at the British Museum. By the 1870s Morris’s wallpapers were often regarded as key elements of an Aesthetic interior.

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‘Peacock’ wallpaper dado designed by E W Godwin

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 18 February 1873. BT 43/100/270551

E W Godwin helped to popularise the Anglo-Japanese style, one of the defining characteristics of the Aesthetic movement. He introduced one of the movement’s most popular symbols, the peacock, shown here in the highly stylised form of a Japanese crest or mon. The diagonal ‘H’ pattern in the background was also derived from Japanese ornament. This formal peacock design was intended for use as a dado, with another of his designs, ‘Bamboo’, an informal, asymmetrical design, as the filling, or main section of wallpaper. The three-part division of walls into a dado, filling and frieze became a distinctive feature of Aesthetic design.

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‘The Sleeping Beauty’ wallpaper designed by Walter Crane

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 21 August 1879. BT 43/103/338553

Well-known as an illustrator of children’s books, Walter Crane designed a number of nursery wallpapers for Jeffrey & Co, including The Sleeping Beauty. Like William Morris, Crane believed that the decorative arts had symbolic potential. Morna O’Neill (2010) has discussed the way in which Crane returned to the theme of The Sleeping Beauty throughout his career. For example, in an essay of 1892 he refers to ‘the sense of beauty’ who, ‘like the enchanted princess in the wood, seems liable, both in communities and individuals, to periods of hypnotism’.

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Woven silk fabric registered by William Fry & Co on 20 December 1876

BT 43/414/306159. This textile design was sold as a roller-printed cotton by Liberty’s department store in Regent Street, a key force in popularising the Aesthetic style, from the late 1880s onwards. It was revived in 1975 and is still used in a range of artefacts by the store under the name Hera. However, the design represents something of a mystery. It is usually attributed to Arthur Silver at the Silver Studio, but the sample at The National Archives was registered in 1876, several years before the Silver Studio was established in 1880, calling this attribution into question.

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‘Indian’ wallpaper designed by Christopher Dresser

Registered by Jeffrey & Co on 28 May 1879. Christopher Dresser was a prolific designer, working across most areas of the decorative arts. He wrote a number of influential works on design and design theory, but unlike proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement embraced mass production. Like Pugin and other designer reformers, Dresser believed in using nature as the basis of ornament. Trained as a botanist, he pioneered the concept of ‘artistic botany’, contributing a plate to his former tutor Owen Jones’ book The Grammar of Ornament. Like Jones, Dresser believed that representations of nature should be ‘conventionalised’ rather than naturalistic, as shown in this design featuring stylised cornflowers.

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