Posted in Business

The long tail.

One of my business aims for the shop is to have as wide a variety of images as possible. To be honest I stumbled into this without really thinking too deeply, then realised I was tapping into something called the ‘long tail’. The graph shows how this works. The area in yellow is the same as the area in green, but represents a large number of distinct items sold in relatively small quantities. This is the ‘long tail’.


As a rule of thumb, for such population distributions the majority of occurrences (more than half, and where the Pareto principle applies, 80%) are accounted for by the first 20% of items in the distribution. What is unusual about a long-tailed distribution is that the most frequently occurring 20% of items represent less than 50% of occurrences; or in other words, the least frequently occurring 80% of items are more important as a proportion of the total population.

By aiming for wide variety, I am deliberately targeting this long tail. This is not the same as catering for a ‘niche’ market. As a strategy, niche marketing is aimed at being a big fish in a small pond, concentrating all your efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population. Catering to the long tail is the opposite. Because I print to order and therefore don’t have to either anticipate what will sell or keep large stocks, I can spread my efforts very widely. As a comment on the Longtail blog linked at the end of this article put it “The market is a mile wide and an inch deep”.

I’m not alone in this of course, this is the Amazon model where over time products with a low sales volume collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, provided that distribution channel is large enough. This is why I wouldn’t attempt this approach on an independent web site. Etsy as a brand already brings huge numbers of people to their site and I can tap into their searches to make my sales.

This possibly explains why original art doesn’t sell so well on Etsy or similar sites. The market for ‘things to hang on the wall’ is huge. That part of it looking for original works of art is much smaller. Out of that smaller market the proportion who will like your style and subject will be even smaller. Although items on Etsy show up in Google searches, the search terms for original art are much harder to pin down, especially for abstract art. I aim to do more work on this however and I’ll share my thoughts then.

Based in part on:

I didn’t find it until I’d finished writing, but see also this site:

Posted in General

From skeletons to Burlesque…

For this post I’ve picked out some quirkier items from the shop – indeed some are positively bizarre. Click on any image to go to the shop where you’ll be able to read more about the image and to buy copies.

First up are some images by William Cheselden from his book ‘Osteographia’ or ‘The anatomy of the bones’ published in 1733. This one, of a bear skeleton leaning against a tree trunk is fairly odd.

bear skeleton by Cheselden 1733

This one however with a human skeleton leaning nonchalantly on what looks like the skull of some huge animal is fairly bizarre. [Not yet in the shop so no link]


Or what about this one, with another human skeleton, this time praying.


My favourite of these however is this one of a monkey skeleton, sitting on a tree stump, waving to the observer!


You can find all the Cheselden images in the shop by following this link.

If you thought those were odd, how about using an image of a dead body in a stream to sell high fashion?

rp-p-2009-1951-1_11x8-crop_950This is an illustration by Charles Martin from 1920, for the Gazette Du Bon Ton, a high end fashion magazine. The Gazette was a small but influential fashion magazine published in France from 1912 to 1925. It aimed to establish fashion as an art alongside painting, sculpture and drawing. According to the magazine’s first editorial: “The clothing of a woman is a pleasure for the eye that cannot be judged inferior to the other arts.”

By contrast, this advert for Scriven’s Patent Drawers is just good fun – at least from our perspective.


A good indicator of just how much things have changed is to consider the reaction of people at the time of the first advert (pre WW1) to this one from the 1950s.


Images like this might have been found in men’s private studies, but would not have been found in mainstream publications and would have been considered highly scandalous, despite the pre WW1 period also being the peak time for Burlesque!


My final image in this post is from the ‘Household Physician’ of 1900, although I suspect the drawings are earlier. If only current first aid manuals were so much fun…


Posted in Admin


This blog is primarily intended to provide background information on the images for sale in my Etsy shop. However they are for sale, so I can’t avoid talking about money!

To keep prices down, most images are printed at standard sizes and mounted to fit standard frame sizes. The listings show standard sizes in inches, since most of my sales so far have been to UK, US and Australia. However if you prefer I can offer a mount sized to fit a standard metric frame at no extra cost. I can also provide mounts to a specific size if you prefer, perhaps to fit a frame you already have. In that case just ask before ordering and I will give you a quote. In most cases it will only be a pound or two extra.

The mounts are antique white, again to try and keep costs down. If you absolutely have to have another colour, get in touch for a quote.

So, prices…

I have three basic sizes, which ar effectively small, medium and large, although within those broad categories there are variations depending on the proportions of the image.


This means 6″x4″, 7″ x 4.25″ or 7″ x 5″. I have found that these three fit prety much all the images I offer. These are currentl;y listed at £8.00 for a print on photographic paper, or £12.00 for a print on heavy art paper, about 300gms/m². These are all mounted to fit a standard frame 10″ x 8″. Metric size would be 25cm x 20cm.


This means 10″ x 8″, 11″ x 7″ or 11″ x 8″. These are currently listed as £15.00 on photographic paper or £21.00 on art paper. These are mounted to fit a standard 16″ x 12″ frame. Metric size is 40cm x 30cm.


This means anything between about 16″ x 10″ and 18″ x 13″. This size is not offered with a mount, since the mounted print would be too unwieldy to post normally and the extra packaging would involve extra costs. If you require a mount nevertheless, get in touch and I will provide a quote for mounting and for shipping costs. This size is priced at £25.00 on photographic paper and £30.00 on art paper.

Other sizes

Sometimes images are in unusual proportions, such as long panoramas. These are usually priced individually. They usually exclude mounts, but again, if you need a mount ask for a quote.

Other exceptions

Sometimes one or other paper option will not be offered. This is usually because in my judgement the image is best suited to the paper type offered.

You may also find prints in the shop with different prices to those above. This is because I am in the process of adjusting price points, as they fall to be renewed. It would take too long to go through the hundreds of listings currently in the shop. The small size is fractionally more expensive, while the largest sizes are usually substantially cheaper. If you find a print where the price is higher than those above and this arises because the listing has still to be altered, get in touch and I will refund the difference.

Posted in Faces and Places, Pulp Magazines

Noir images in the shop

Noir was originally used in relation to film. The term was coined in 1946 by French film critic Nino Frank but wasn’t generally adopted until the 1970s and then retrospectively applied to Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s. Literally it means Black Film, but a closer meaning is Dark Film. Darkness in this context may be literal, as in the BigComboTrailerdark and moody cinematography of many 1940s thrillers, with low key lighting and strong shadows as in classics like The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep. It may also be metaphorical, as in the many films with stories involving femmes fatales, doomed heroes or anti-heroes, and tough, cynical detectives.

Like all such categories there is no clear agreement on what is or isn’t a noir film. Common elements include low-key lighting, stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning, It often uses low-angle, wide-angle, and skewed, or Dutch angle camera shots as well as shots of people reflected in one or more mirrors, shots through curved or frosted glass or other distorting objects (such as during the strangulation scene in Strangers on a Train), and special effects sequences of a sometimes bizarre nature, all with the aim of creating a sense of disorientation. They often have unusually convoluted story lines, frequently involving flashbacks and other editing techniques that disrupt and sometimes obscure the narrative sequence. Framing the entire primary narrative as a flashback is also a standard device. Voiceover narration, sometimes used as a structuring device, came to be seen as a noir hallmark; while classic noir is generally associated with first-person narration (i.e., by the protagonist). At its most extreme this device is found in Sunset Boulevard, where the narrator is dead.

Crime, usually murder, is an element of almost all films noir; in addition to standard-issue greed, jealousy is frequently the criminal motivation. A crime investigation—by a private eye, a police detective (sometimes acting alone), or a concerned amateur—is the most prevalent, but far from dominant, basic plot. In other common plots the protagonists are implicated in heists or con games, or in murderous conspiracies often involving adulterous affairs.Commonly heroes are more flawed and morally questionable than the norm, often fall guys of one sort or another and confoming to a fairly narrow range of archetypes — hardboiled detectives, femme fatales, corrupt policemen or jealous husbands. False suspicions and accusations of crime are frequent plot elements, as are betrayals and double-crosses. According to J. David Slocum, “protagonists assume the literal identities of dead men in nearly fifteen percent of all noir.” Amnesia is fairly epidemic—”noir’s version of the common cold”, in the words of film historian Lee Server.

Film noir is often associated with an urban setting, and a few cities—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, in particular—are the location of many of the classic films. In the eyes of many critics, the city is presented in noir as a “labyrinth” or “maze”. In the popular (and, frequently enough, critical) imagination, in noir it is always night and it always rains. Even so, many classic noirs take place in small towns, suburbia, rural areas, or on the open road. Whatever the setting, the films are typically seen as depicting a world that is inherently corrupt.

From its use in film, the term has spread and is often used to describe simply a mood or feeling. The best known perhaps is Scandinavian noir also called Scandi or Nordic noir, a genre comprising crime fiction written in Scandinavia with certain common characteristics, typically in a realistic style with a dark, morally complex mood, breaking away from the older “whodunit” influenced by the British country house murder mystery. It has been suggested that this is influenced by Scandinavia’s political system where the apparent equality, social justice, and liberalism of the Nordic model is seen to cover up dark secrets and hidden hatreds.

Now it seems the term implies no more than a certain ‘look and feel’, something we recognise when we see it. It is with that in mnd that I’ve selected a set of pictures from the shop which I have tagged ‘noir’.

Click on the individual pictures to see them larger or follow this Etsy search link to see these and more, plus information on each photograph:

Noir photos in the shop

It was the photo of the girl in the bar that led me to write this post. It is a very Hopperish image,  although it would fit in happily as a still from a spy movie. See the envelope on the bench beside her – secret documents? And the bulging purse – is there perhaps a gun in there?  In practice it seems she was there to pick up a man for the night, which off course fits in well with the noir narrative of troubled, ambiguous protagonists.

The picture of the steam launch is rather different. I’m not sure if the term exists, but I called it ‘backwoods noir’. This is the country of ‘True Detective‘ or perhaps even ‘True Blood‘.

There are other items in the shop that could fall into the noir theme. Look at this comic cover from 1948…


Apart from the striking resemblance to the Mad Men characters, Joan Henderson and Don Draper this could be a scene from any of dozens of noir films of the period – and if ever there was a noir hero it is Don. There are several others in similar vein. As before click on an individual picture to enlarge it, or follow the link to the Etsy shop.

Noir comics


Sections of this post use material from Wikipedia articles on Film Noir and Scandinavian Noir.

Hot links may contain Associate Codes for Amazon or other on line vendors. You can avoid these by going to the site directly and searching from there.

Posted in General

What’s in store?

I’m conscious that nothing has been posted here for months. I’ve been concentrating on building up the shop stock rather than promotion outside Etsy, where it is hosted. I’m going to try and do better!

About the shop

I’m an artist printmaker, I took this up on retirement but even before I was always taking photographs and have done so for over 50 years now. The visual arts have always been important to me and I’ve always been fascinated by ephemera and by things like old maps, travel posters and graphic design generally.

A chance discovery of some large digital scans of pulp magazines led me to set up on Etsy selling copies of these and some floral prints.Since then range of images I sell has grown to include advertisements, architectural drawings, maps and plans, vintage photography, botanical prints, Golden Age comics and pulp magazines and a host of other subjects. All the images I sell are public domain or otherwise out of copyright. Having the shop gives me the excuse to go digging around in digital archives and to browse antique and vintage stores in search of new and exciting things that I can then share with my customers.

The shop on Etsy is arranged by sections – think of them as departments in a store. Each section is based around particular content, so for example if you want motoring prints, the motoring section is the place to look. There are 15 sections and these have been replicated as categories for this blog. So a blog post about fashion and costume will be tagged with that category.

If instead of the print subject you want to look for a particular medium such as photography, engravings, woodblock prints etc, these are best found by doing a shop search. I’m adding cross links to other similar items but this will take some time as listings fall to be renewed when I take the opportunity to revise and update them..

Most of the images I sell are ready mounted (sometimes called matting) to fit standard frame sizes. This makes it easier for you to frame as you choose using ready made frames, while still allowing you the option of a custom frame. The standard sizes are dimensioned in inches, since most sales so far are to the US or UK. However if you want a mount to fit a standard metric frame I’m happy to oblige for no extra cost. I can also provide mounts to non-standard sizes on request. All my mounts are in antique white. I have found this complements most images. Standardising materials and frame sizes helps me keep costs down and means you get a great image at an affordable price. If you really want a different colour, let me know before ordering and I will give you a quote and a revised delivery date.

All materials used in matting are high-quality and to the same standard as those I use for my own original art work available from my other shop. All mounted prints include a backing piece in the same card as the mount and are packed in a protective cello bag and shipped in securely packed reinforced packaging.

Unmounted prints on heavy art paper are sent flat in similar packaging for those made on heavyweight art paper. Lighter photo paper prints are rolled in artist tissue and sent in a mailing tube.

In addition to the selling of these reproduction prints here, I also go to specialist fairs and conventions where I can. If you have a specialist interest and you think I might be interested in a stall at one of your events, please get in touch.

I also offer a service to small businesses, guest houses and hotels, restaurants etc, in fact any business looking to decorate their premises with either reproduction prints, or with original art. Contact me for details of how I can help you.

All the images in the shop are also available as notecards. There is a listing in the notecard section with further details.

Prices in the shop are retail. Please get in touch if you are interested in reselling any of these images in a retail shop.

Please note – although most of these images are either in the public domain or out of copyright, most also incorporate significant amounts of work by me to restore and prepare the images for printing. When you buy from me you are buying the physical print with no further rights to reproduction. If you want to use any of these images in print or digital publications please contact me first.

Posted in Pulp Magazines

Pulp Magazines and their Art

I’ve been reading science fiction since I was about 11. When I was about 13 or 14, a cousin gave me a pile of what I now know are were Pulp magazines (sometimes just “pulps”). These were inexpensive fiction magazines published in a wide variety of genre from the beginnings of the 20th Century through the 1950s. The ones I had were probably Amazing or Astounding from the early ’50s. I’m not sure that some of the other pulp genre would have gone down well with my mother! I don’t have them now, but I can still recall the gaudy covers. bachelor_1957 magazine cover

The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers began their careers writing for pulps, they are best remembered these days for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art.

Pulp covers were printed in color on higher-quality paper. They were famous for their half-dressed damsels in distress, usually awaiting a rescuing hero. The cover art played a major part in the marketing of these magazines. On many occasions the relationship between the cover illustration and the magazine content was pretty tenuous. Sometimes the cover would be designed first; authors would then be shown the cover art and asked to write a story to match.

Later pulps began to feature interior illustrations, depicting elements of the stories. The drawings were printed in black ink on the same cream-colored paper used for the text, and had to use specific techniques to avoid blotting on the coarse texture of the cheap pulp. Thus, fine lines and heavy detail were usually not an option. Shading was by crosshatching or pointillism, and even that had to be limited and coarse. Usually the art was black lines on the paper’s background, but Finlay and a few others did some work that was primarily white lines against large dark areas.

Most of what I have in the shop are from Science Fiction magazines. I’m looking out for examples of other genre, but individual magazines are expensive and hard to come by. Startling stories a31-500Despite my mother’s acquiescence when my cousin gave me those magazines so long ago, the science fiction pulps were however as likely to fall into the same stereotypes as the others. This cover for example, from Startling Stories of December 1945, is by Earle K. Bergey, well known for illustrations of scantily-clad women in space helmets which featured heavily in the cover art for Startling Stories. These served incidently as an inspiration for Princess Leia’s slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi and for Madonna’s brass brassiere. Bergey’s science fiction covers usually featured a woman being menaced by a Bug-Eyed Monster, alien, or robot, with an heroic male astronaut coming to her assistance. The bikini-tops worn by the girls often resembled coppery metal, giving rise to the phrase “brass bra,” sometimes used in reference to this sort of art.

This trope was sometimes reflected back in later stories, perhaps most effectively in The Moon Goddess and the Son, by Donald Kingsbury. This novel was expanded from a novella originally published, appropriately, in Analog Magazine in 1979. Analog is the successor to Astounding and is the longest running continuously published SF magazine.


Startling a33 Startling a40 Startling a97-500

I’ll come back to this topic in another post with a look in more detail at the work of some of the artists involved.

Interested in finding out more about pulps?

The Pulp Magazine Project

Galactic Central

[Adapted from Pulp Magazine on Wikipedia]

Posted in General

About this blog

This blog links to my shop selling reproductions of a wide range of vintage graphic design to display in your home. Created from the beginning to be distributed widely, the reproduction prints I sell are as close as I can get to the look and feel of the historic originals.

Auburn Automobiles poster
Auburn Automobiles poster

Despite being reproductions I use archival quality materials and take the same care and attention in making them as my own original art work. The sources vary widely – old photographs from junk shops and boot sales, old post cards, advertising ephemera, old engravings and lithographs – the range of material seems endless.

The blog will be a place to document my research, to talk in more detail about some of the types of images and generally to bring forwards new finds as I add them to the shop.

Currently the shop  is hosted on Etsy, but it is accessible via

You can find my original art here: