Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dutch Series #5 - Piccolo's in the PTT

I have posted a piece about the beret in the postal service before (all French postal service berets) and unknown to me that the Dutch PTT actually used berets as well, between 1949 and 1963. 
The 'Piccolo's'  were the telegram delivery boys of the PTT, wearing a beret with the stylized letters PTT for a chrome beret badge on a fake-leather red background.

The design of the badge is by Nicolaas de Koo (1981 - 1960).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Waldorf Berets

Dutch felt artist Monique de Vreede is a small scale manufacturer of quite fantastic berets.

Starting her felting career with anthroposophical dolls (every child should start life with one of these!), Monique moved on to the making of tapestries and berets - all made from felted merino wool. 

Friday, January 28, 2011


It's not only Citroëns and Peugeots that have a strong affiliation with the beret; the beret's aerodynamic shape lent itself perfectly for keeping the heads of open high performance car drivers protected from the elements.
Bugatti was founded in Molsheim, France as a manufacturer of high performance automobiles by Ettore Bugatti, an Italian born, described as an eccentric genius.
The original company is legendary for producing some of the most exclusive cars in the world, as well as some of the fastest. The original Bugatti brand failed with the coming of World War II, like many high-end marques of the time. The death of Ettore's son Jean was also a contributory factor. The company struggled financially, and released one last model in the 1950s, before eventually being purchased for its airplane parts business in the 1960s. Today the name is owned by Volkswagen Group, who have revived it as a builder of limited production exclusive sports cars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

GI Joe goes French

I found this on Ebay: GI Joe disguised as a French Resistance Fighter, released in 1966.
The set is complete with:
  • Nice C9 foreign head figure with beautiful head and eyebrow paint
  • French Beret marked Hasbro Japan in C9 condition
  • Turtleneck Sweater in C9+ condition
  • Pants in C8.5 condition
  • Lebel Revolver, shoulder holster, knife, grenades, radio set, 7,65 submachine gun all in C9 condition
  • Original Croix de Gerre Medal in beautiful C9 condition
This overall a beautiful example of the French Resistance Fighter!
I have no idea what C9 and C8.5 stand for - I guess it means it's a well conserved play-boy. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From the Le Mars Daily Sentinel: Dr. Jose Garrido

Dr. Jose Garrido of Miami, Fla., and a former Le Mars resident, died April 14, 2008 at the age of 93.
Dr. Jose Garrido was born in 1914, in Havanna, Cuba. He was a lawyer by profession in Cuba and served as the mayor of Havana, Cuba in 1950. He moved to the United States in 1964, fleeing the Castro regime, along with his wife Lydia and granddaughter Jennifer. They settled in Le Mars, Iowa in 1965 and remained there until 1987.
Dr. Garrido served on the Westmar College faculty as professor of Spanish.
This time in his life was one of joy and passion for his students. He continued to speak of the "COPACABANA" event which he started at Westmar, every chance he could.
While at Westmar he served as the girls tennis coach for several years. He also taught Spanish at Northwestern College for about 10 years starting in the mid 1970s.
He participated in the Westmar bowling league for many years, and played in the city tennis league until his early 70s.
He lived the balance of his life in Miami, surrounded by his family and friends.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raymond Queneau

Raymond Queneau (1903 – 1976) was a French poet and novelist and the co-founder of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (Oulipo).
Queneau performed military service as a zouave in Algeria and Morocco during the years 1925–1926. Queneau was drafted in 1939 after Germany's invasion of Poland, but he was demobilized in 1940. Through the remainder of World War II, he and his family lived with the painter Élie Lascaux in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat.
In 1924 Queneau met and briefly joined the Surrealists, but never fully shared in the methods of automatic writing or Surrealist ultra-left politics. Like many surrealists, he entered psychoanalysis—however, not in order to stimulate his creative abilities, but for personal reasons.
Queneau questioned the Surrealist support of the USSR in 1926. He remained on cordial terms with André Breton, although he also continued associating with Simone Kahn, after Breton split up with her. Breton usually demanded that his followers ostracize his former girlfriends. It would have been difficult for Queneau to avoid Simone, however, since he married her sister, Janine, in 1928. The year that Breton left Simone, she sometimes traveled around France with her sister and Queneau.
By 1929, Queneau had separated himself significantly from Breton and the Surrealists. In 1930 Queneau participated in Un Cadavre (A Corpse, 1930), a vehemently anti-Breton pamphlet.
For Boris Souvarine's La Critique sociale (1930–34), Queneau mostly wrote brief reviews. One characterized Raymond Roussel as one whose "imagination combines passion of mathematician with rationality of the poet." He wrote more scientific than literary reviews: on Pavlov, on Vernadsky (from whom he got a circular theory of sciences), and a review of a book on the history of equestrian caparisons by an artillery officer. He also helped with writing passages on Engels and mathematical dialectic for Bataille's article, "A critique of the foundations of Hegelian dialectic."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Traction Avant

The Citroën Traction Avant was an innovative front wheel drive automobile produced by the French manufacturer Citroën. About 760,000 units were produced from 1934 to 1957.
The Traction Avant, French for "forward traction", was designed by André Lefèbvre and Flaminio Bertoni in late 1933 / early 1934. 

The novel design made the car seem very low-slung relative to its contemporaries — the Traction Avant always possessed a unique look, which went from appearing rakish in 1934 to familiar and somewhat old fashioned by 1955.
As of 2006, the oldest surviving 7A has production number ("coque nr") AZ 00-18, and is displayed in partly dismantled shape (engine and front wheels detached) in the Citroën Museum in Paris. The oldest running 7A is probably number AZ-00-23, which was, until September 2006, in possession of a Dutch owner and is now with a Slovenian owner.
Traction Avants are fairly robust vehicles even by modern standards. Every few years, Traction Avant enthusiasts ship their vehicles to an exotic location for a rally. In 2002, for example, a group of over 30 Traction Avants drove from Los Angeles to New York without incident, or have a look at the Trans Maroc expedition of 2006.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau (1912 – 1994) was a French photographer. In the 1930s he used a Leica on the streets of Paris; together with Henri Cartier-Bresson he was a pioneer of photojournalism. He is renowned for his 1950 image 'Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville'.(Kiss by the hôtel de ville), a photo of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris. 
Jean and Denise Lavergne erroneously believed themselves to be the couple in The Kiss, and when Robert and Annette met them for lunch in the 1980s he "did not want to shatter their dream" so he said nothing. This resulted in them taking him to court for "taking their picture without their knowledge", because under French law an individual owns the rights to their own likeness. The court action forced Doisneau to reveal that he posed the shot using Françoise Delbart and Jacques Carteaud, lovers whom he had just seen kissing but had not initially photographed because of his natural reserve, but he approached them and asked if they would repeat le baiser. He won the court case against the Lavergnes.
In 1950 Françoise Bornet was given an original print of the photo, bearing Doisneau's signature and stamp, as part of the payment for her "work", and thus her subsequent attempt at litigation in the 1990s was rejected by the court. In April 2005 she sold the print at auction for 155,000€ to an unidentified Swiss collector via the Paris auctioneers Artcurial Briest-Poulain-Le Fur.The couple in Le baiser were Françoise Delbart, 20, and Jacques Carteaud, 23, both aspiring actors. In 2005 Françoise Bornet (née Delbart) stated that "He told us we were charming, and asked if we could kiss again for the camera. We didn't mind. We were used to kissing. We were doing it all the time then, it was delicious. Monsieur Doisneau was adorable, very low key, very relaxed." They posed at the Place de la Concorde, the Rue de Rivoli and finally the Hôtel de Ville. The photograph was published in the June 12, 1950, issue of Life. The relationship between Delbart and Carteaud only lasted for nine months.Delbart continued her acting career, but Carteaud gave up acting to become a wine producer.
Doisneau worked at Rapho until the outbreak of World War II, whereupon he was drafted into the French army as both a soldier and photographer. He was in the army until 1940 and from then until the end of the war in 1945 used his draughtsmanship, lettering artistry and engraving skills to forge passports and identification papers for the French Resistance.
Some of Doisneau's most memorable photographs were taken after the war. He returned to freelance photography and sold photographs to Life and other international magazines. He briefly joined the Alliance Photo Agency but rejoined the Rapho agency in 1946 and remained with them throughout his working life, despite receiving an invitation from Henri Cartier-Bresson to join Magnum Photos.
Robert Doisneau was appointed a Chevalier (Knight) of the National Order of the Légion d'honneur in 1984.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Pictured above is Princess Máxima of the Netherlands (née Máxima Zorreguieta; 1971), the wife of Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orangeheir apparent to the throne of the Netherlands
Yes, the Netherlands are still ruled by monarchs, and as far as I am concerned, their biggest contribution to society is a regular promotion of the beret. 
Below, Maxima's husband, Willem Alexander (left).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Benedict Steelbreaker

Benoît Brisefer (French for "Benedict Steelbreaker") is a Belgian comic strip created in 1960 by Peyo (best known for the Smurfs) about a little boy whose peaceful, innocent appearance, charm and good manners covers his possession of superhuman strength similar to that of Asterix. Since Peyo's death it has been continued by other artists and writers. Parts of the series have been published in a number of languages around the world.

Benoît Brisefer is a blond-haired little boy who always wears a beret, a blue scarf, a red jacket and black shorts. He is very polite, honest and well-mannered, works hard at school and likes to help people in need. He hates crime and injustice and has an intense dislike for firearms.

What makes him really exceptional, though, is that he possesses superhuman strength: he can lift tremendous weights, leap huge distances and run extremely fast. However, if he catches a cold he loses his strength and becomes "the well-behaved little boy that every parent would love to have."

Benoît lives in the little town of Vivejoie-la-Grande (French for "Big-Lovejoy"). No mention is ever made of him having parents or guardians of any kind. His last Peyo-written adventure, Le Fétiche, showed that a lady called Madam Minou took care of his house and served him his breakfast, but lives in another part of town. Other than that, his only known relative is his Uncle Placide whom he sometimes stays with during the holidays.
One curious thing about Benoît's abilities is that his adult friends are completely ignorant of him: they always have their backs turned when he uses his strength and fail to believe him when he tries to tell them about it, simply muttering "Of course, Benoît, of course". On the other hand, adult enemies, such as crooks, spies and gangsters, learn to their cost what happens when they try to attack a seemingly harmless little boy who follows a quick punch with a morale taught to him by his teacher: "The schoolmistress always says that you should not attack people who are smaller than yourself". 
A certain amount of pathos was included in the early adventures in that Benoît was unable to make friends his own age. His strength meant that he kept unintentionally breaking the other kids' toys: simply kicking a ball would cause it to burst. Later stories played down this aspect of his character, with Benoît making friends and he and other children enjoying a good time at summer camp.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Armel Guerne

Armel Guerne was a poet and translator of French-speaking Swiss origin, born in Morges (Switzerland) in 1911.

 His parents returned to France when he was nine. He continued his studies at the college of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, before being cut off by his father. Aided by the family of his best friend Munir Hafez, he can continue his studies. At the Sorbonne he, together with Roger Frétigny, founded the Psychological Study Group. His first book Oral is published by the Attic in 1934.

During the Second World War, he stops all literary activity to devote himself to the resistance: he enters a network of British Intelligence, the Special Operations Executive and the Prosper network. With the collapse of the network at the end of June 1943, he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was then interned at the Fresnes prison and later the Royallieu Camp near Compiegne from where he was sent to Buchenwald. Guerne managed to escape on the way before the train arrived in Charleville and managed to get himself to London.

After the war, he translated numerous writers, including Novalis, Rilke, Hölderlin, the brothers Grimm,Melville, Virginia Woolf, Dürrenmatt, Elias Canetti, Lao Tzu and Kawabata, while pursuing his own work.

In 1960, Armel Guerne retires to the windmill in Tourtrès (Lot-et-Garonne). He died on 9 October 1980 at the hospital in Marmande.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plato Grande Range Extended!

Happy to announce that the full range of cotton Plato Grandes is now available through South Pacific Cowboy
Very large berets in 35cm diameter (13.8") that are not only the ultimate protection from the sun (and therefore well adopted my the Argentine and Brazilian gauchos), but also make perfect wear for winter. 
Shape-able, elegant and practical - made of heavy knitted cotton with satin lining and carrying the embroidered Tolosa Tupida label.
Available in Black, Navy, Greay, Green and Maroon.