Thursday, January 20, 2011
WEDGWOOD AND WORLD WAR II
Some of you know I am a magazine addict, especially magazines with Wedgwood articles, ads and photos. I have collected a few issues of The Magazine Antiques from the World War II era which contain Wedgwood articles or references. One day it occured to me that the world was a black place in the months in which these issues, all sporting gorgeous covers, were published. It also occured to me to wonder how the world, those not directly fighting in or running the war, could go so blythely about their business, studying Wedgwood pots for heaven's sake, during such a time! I'd considered the question before, but the reality of the magazine covers struck some sort of chord that I couldn't ignore. One particular article, 'Sources of Wedgwood's Child Motifs', in the September, 1944 issue was written by the late Elizabeth Chellis who was an important contributor to Wedgwood scholarship for many years; her library is now held in the Birmingham (AL) Museum of Art, a vast and valuable resource for collectors, and her legacy to scholars for generations to come. I began to write a review of the article for the newsletter of the Wedgwood Society of Boston, in which Elizabeth and her family were and are active members, but couldn't get past the War; couldn't seem to get interested in reviewing the content of the article. I realized the title itself would tell collectors what the article contained, thus my musings became my article, trying to make sense of the context of the magazine in the world around my parents and grandparents, and all those others who were indelibly affected by the situation of the home front in September of 1944. The review was written nearly five years ago and in the interim I have begun transcribing my paternal grandfather's life-long diaries. I've been working on the World War II years for ages, I keep finding information, photos, cards, internet sites and other things to illustrate grandpa's world. In going through a magazine box recently I rediscovered these 1940s Antiques magazines, and now they are more relevant to me than ever. I am indeed transcribing the detailed minutiae of my grandparents' lives, set against the backdrop of The War. And the same musings keep falling into my brain! How could grandpa record the fact of my uncle's being with Bradley in France in 1945 in the same paragraph as saying that the refrigerator repairman failed to appear as appointed? Lives had to go on, life had to go on, war production and support efforts certainly occupied many minds and hands, but then there were the rest of the hours of the day and night. The Magazine Antiques certainly continued to forge ahead, announcing all the regular antiques shows, running the regular dealers' ads, and presenting great articles on varying subjects of interest to antiques aficionados. I am going to use some of the covers to illustrate the diary entries, perhaps others will let musings along these lines pop into their brains too! Here is the article I wrote, and I highly recommend if you are interested, try collecting some of these back issues from the 1940s! The covers are gorgeous and the early take on the antiques world is interesting too!
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