Isotype Infographics – from Landsmen and Seafarers, 1945

I bought this book ages ago because of the nice infographics, and thought I’d share it. For more of the same, please see the following blog post.

I apologise for the quality of the scans. My crappy scanner, and the wartime austerity printing and paper don’t really mix well…but I think you’ll get the idea.

The book is called Landsmen And Seafarers by Maurice Lovell, and is from a series called The Soviets and Ourselves. It “deals with the major influences of circumstance and history which have shaped the Russian and British peoples diversely, in separation, to bring them at last into close alliance”.

The following graphics are by Dr Otto Neurath of the Isotype Institute.

Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell


Isotype 5 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 6 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 8 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 10 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 11 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 13 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

Isotype 14 Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell


And this was on the hardback cover under the dust jacket.

Hardback Landsmen and Seamen by Maurice Lovell

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What is on this Russian box?

Does anyone know what is depicted on this Russian box. It is about 18 x 8cm in size, and the picture is lacquered to the lid.

ornate Russian boxThis ticket was in the box. Can anyone read Russian?

Russian ticket

Update – thanks to Twitter I have managed to find out who is on the box, and where it came from. 

The ticket says:

Управление местной промышленности
диплома 1-й степени
художественная фабрика

Which translates to:

Control of the local industry
the diploma of the 1st degree
the artistic factory

The box is a Mstyora, (or Mstera) originally made in the Russian town of the same name. Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Mstyora (or Mstera) miniature (Russian: Мстёрская миниатюра) is a Russian folk handicraft of miniature painting, which is done with tempera paints on varnished articles mostly made of papier-mâché.

Mstyora miniatures appeared in the settlement of Mstyora (in modern Vladimir Oblast) in the early 20th century on the basis of a local tradition of icon-painting.

In 1923, Mstyora painters formed an artel called Ancient Russian Folk Painting (Древнерусская народная живопись), renamed Proletarian Art (Пролетарское искусство) in 1931.

This artel was turned into a factory in 1960. The Mstyora painting technology was borrowed from the Palekh artists.

Mstyora miniatures usually represent characters from real life, folklore, and literary and historical works. Warmth and gentleness of colors, depth of landscape backgrounds (often with blue dales in the back), small size and squatness of human figurines, and subtlety of framing pattern done in gold are typical.

Interestingly it seems that after the Russian revolution, religious icon painting was banned, and these Mstyora were the icon artists’ new means of making a living.

The box itself features an illustration called “Song of Wise Oleg” which is the name of a ballad by Alexander Pushkin. It tells the tale of Oleg of Novgorod, a prince who ruled all (or part) of the Rus people in the early 10th century. It is based on the legend that (according to Wikipedia)…

it was prophesied by the pagan priests that Oleg would take death from his stallion. Proud of his own foretelling abilities, he sent the horse away. Many years later he asked where his horse was, and was told it had died. He asked to see the remains and was taken to the place where the bones lay. When he touched the horse’s skull with his boot a snake slithered from the skull and bit him. Oleg died, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

I think the illustration itself is by Alexey Mikhailovich Kosterin, a miniature artist, born in the village of Kholuy in 1929.

So there you have it – the mystery of the Russian box, solved. I am especially grateful for tweeters Alexey Melnikov (@aamelnikov_chal) and Jeffrey Smith (@jeffreysspsmith) for their invaluable help recognising the type of box, and the artwork on it.

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Like Father Like Son

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A Handy Chart For Parents


As a little postscript to the above. This is 30 minutes worth of unattended play from The Boys.


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The Murder Stone

When I discovered Links With Old Nottingham, an old (1928) book about interesting places in an around Nottingham, I visited many of the places mentioned (or in many cases, the places where they used to be).

One place that always interested me was The Murder Stone, but it also eluded me as it was a good way out of town. Then, for 3 months I worked as a freelance artworker in Mansfield, and every day I passed the place where it was supposed to be. One day I finally caught a glimpse as the bus whizzed past – and I resolved to visit it soon.

The Murder Stone

Notice the flowers? I wonder who leaves them. The story behind it is as follows, quoted from Links With Old Nottingham (which is online here).

OF all the thousands of people who pass along the Nottingham-Mansfield road during the year, very few notice that at the foot of the rise leading up to Harlow Wood, where the new Orthopaedic Hospital stands, there is, on the eastern side of the road, a stone which, to all appearances, is a tombstone. Of the few people who notice this stone, stilt fewer know its story.

It commemorates a young girl of the name of Elizabeth Shepherd. On July 7th, 1817, this girl left her home at Papplewick, and went over to Mansfield to seek for employment. Towards the evening her mother, having gone out to meet her, saw her returning along the road, and, turning back towards Papplewick, she expected that in due course her daughter would overtake her. However, she did not, and upon a search being made, her body was discovered lying on the spot where this memorial is now erected.

A hue and cry was raised, and a ne’er-do-well called Charles Rotherham came under suspicion. This suspicion deepened into conviction when it was discovered that he was in possession of a cotton umbrella and a pair of shoes which had been worn by the unfortunate girl.

Rotherham was duly executed and a memorial was erected to Elizabeth Shepherd, which still stands and bears the following inscription:

This stone is erected to the memory of Elizabeth Sheppard [sic], of Papplewick, who was murdered while passing this spot by Charles Rotheram [sic], July 7th, 1817. Aged 17 years.

The picture that accompanies this is of a different stone, suggesting that the one above is a 20th century replacement. The spellings of the surnames differs on the two stones, and in the various accounts. Should you wish, a quick Google will reveal the gory details of the murder, but I wont link to them here.

Update: The person responsible for maintaining the stone left a comment – here’s what he had to say…

Hi, I’m Richard and also the stonemason who restored the Sheppard Stone.
The old black/white picture was taken many years ago when it was restored then.
The slate plaque with the inscription on which you see today facing the road was made because it would simply last longer,
Because this kind of sandstone weathers rather easily it wasnt a good idea to keep working a flat face back into the stone to re- cut a new inscription, before long the stone would get smaller and eventually there would be nothing left.
So I decided with slate lasting virtually forever I would cut the inscription on and sink it into the stone (prevent anyone prizing it off).
I would like to mention that the slate plaque was fixed to the opposite face facing the woods as this was the best face, then I swivelled the stone around so the original inscription faced the woods, I left it like that for awhile but then decided to work the orginal face off so now only the slate plaque with the inscription remains.
So for many years the inscription will remain readable and the stone wont get any smaller.

The Original Murder Stone

Should you wish to visit, it is on the A60 between Ravenshead and Mansfield. Heading North, stop just as you enter Harlow Wood (there is a track with a barrier where you can park a car) and the stone is on the right, just as the wood begins. It is set down from the road (presumably at the level of the road 200 years ago) and about 2 metres away from it. The view north from the stone, and a Google map follow.

View The Murder Stone in a larger map

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