Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I can't give away too much as yet, but... THE MAMMOTHS ARE COMING!
Soon, Carpathian Mammoths at

Aviation Pioneer Alfred Leblanc

Alfred Leblanc (1869 - 1921) was a pioneer French aviator.
In 1888 he became the technical director of the Victor Bidault metal foundry. A keen sportsman, he was an energetic secretary general of the oldest gymnastic society in Paris. He became interested in the sport of ballooning, rapidly becoming a successful competitor in the races organised by the Aéro-Club de France.
He later became associated with Louis Blériot and handled the logistics for Blériot for his cross channel flight ofJuly 25, 1909. He then became the first person to buy a copy of Blériot's aircraft.
In 1910, flying a Gnome-engined Blériot XI, he won the Circuit de l'Est, covering the 805 km (500 mi) in 12hr 1 min 1 sec, an average speed of 66.99 km/h (41.63 mph).
In November he represented France in the Gordon Bennett Trophy race for airplanes, held in New York, but misjudged a turn on his last lap and crashed: had he not done so he would have won the competition, which was won by Claude Grahame-White, also flying a Blériot.
Alfred Leblanc appearing in an ad: "When I was ill at Troyes, it was thanks to Mariani Wine that I could continue the Circuit de l'Est and win". Different times indeed...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chasseurs Alpin at Hartmannswillerkopf

Hartmannswillerkopf, also known as the Vieil Armand or Hartmannsweiler Kopf (Hartmansweiler Head) is a pyramidal rocky spur in the Vosges mountains of Alsace. The peak stands at 956 metres (3,136 ft) overlooking the Rhine valley. At Hartmannswillerkopf stands a national monument of World War I for the fighting which took place in the trenches here.
The French (Chasseurs Alpin) and Germans fought for control of the mountain peak during the First World War. Fighting took place throughout 1915. 30,000 died near Hartmannswillerkopf during the First World War, with the majority of deaths suffered by the French. 
After about 11 months of fierce combat, both sides began to focus most of their attention farther north on the Western Front. Only enough men to hold the lines were left at Hartmannswillerkopf. The lines remained relatively stable for the remainder of the war and generally only artillery exchanges took place.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pierre Comba

Pierre Comba (1859 - 1934) was a French painter best known for his watercolors depicting the life of the Chasseurs Alpin.
In 1881 he serves as a conscript in North Africa where he participated in the campaign of Tunisia. Encouraged by the military painters, he became assistant designer in September 1883.
In 1888, Peter Comba settled permanently in his hometown Nice where he married, widowed soon, and re-married a Venetian who gave him a son in 1896. As a former military painter he obtained the authorization of the General Staff to follow, the summer and winter manoeuvres in the Alps (Counties of Nice, Dauphiné, Savoie ). He will do so for twenty-six years, until the beginning of the great war.
In 1903 he became a member of the Mountain Painters Society where he exhibited regularly from 1907 to 1914. He designed for directories of the French Army and was a contributor to several magazines such as The Illustrated Figaro.

From 1914 to 1918, he returned to work as a painter of the Army, mainly with the Chasseurs Alpin, following in the battles they lead, across the icy cliffs of the Vosges to the muddy trenches of the Somme. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cave Artist

A cave artist wearing a beret cuts silhouettes of young women out of wood; pure and simple...
Fragment from 1939.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vintage Spanish (Basque) Boina Labels & Linings

Presently, there is only one manufacturer of berets left in Spain: Boinas Elosegui in Tolosa. Coincidentally, this is also the last manufacturer left in the Basque Country (on both sides of the border).
There have been many more (small) manufacturers over the years though. Following, a selection of some beautiful old Spanish linings and labels, all from the middle of last century. Note the small sizes of the berets.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wish Wynne (1929)

Wish Wynne, a very opinionated woman wearing a beret and a careworn face, sits with her dowdy (and silent) friend Hilda, and points people in the audience they both know. Other patrons are still arriving before the show. Wish makes bitchy comments about the women they know there, and tells a small boy sitting beside her to stop kicking against her foot - "Little brute! Trod on my corn!". An usherette is seen in background selling boxes of sweets to a couple in the back row.
The lights go down and the show starts. It's obviously a silent film; we hear piano accompaniment and Wish keeps up a commentary, reading the titles out loud - "Love and Passion... oh look, there's Richard Bartlemass". Through her comments we hear about the others in the film, then the plot, involving a motor race, a dinner party, a man stealing some papers from a desk, a woman being dragged into a motor car and being tied to a bed post then set on fire! Wish begs "Where's the 'ero? Where's the 'ero?!", and he eventually turns up to rescue the girl.

Wish claps her hands and says she's all worn out. When the lights come up at the end of the film she immediately jumps up and shouts out to her friend Emma across the cinema. Hilda powders her nose. Everyone starts to leave. Wish pushes past the small boy beside her, saying "Get out of the way, you kid!".

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boinas Pretas MC

The Boinas Pretas MC (Black Beret Motor Club) came to life in August, set up by three friends from São Paulo (Brazil) who knew the harsh and difficult reality of the streets, but in spare moments liked to meet and travel by motorcycle.
Two of the club’s objectives are to seek brotherhood among motorcyclists and promote travel for its members, meetings and events related to motorcycling, in Brazil and abroad and to undertake activities aimed at philanthropy and willingness to help people, children or elderly people in need of aid.
Members of the Boinas Pretas have led their flag and colours to motorbike events in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Portugal, Spain and France.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Diver with Beret

Beautiful piece of 1932 footage of a female diver. She proudly dons her beret at the start of the film, but it becomes really interesting (for beret aficionados) by 2:19.
"There's a weighty difference between a dinner gown and a diving dress" reads an intertitle...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Captain Bob Bartlett

Captain Robert "Bob" Abram Bartlett (1875 –1946) was a Newfoundland Arctic explorer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Bartlett was captain of the Roosevelt and accompanied Commander Robert Peary on his attempts to reach the North Pole. He was awarded the Hubbard Medal of the National Geographic Society for breaking the trail through the frozen Arctic Sea to within 150 miles of the pole, yet was excluded from the final exploring party (possibly due to a rivalry between the two men). Bartlett took a ship and was the first person to sail north of 88° N.
In 1914, Bartlett’s leadership in the doomed Karluk Expedition helped save the lives of most of its stranded participants after leader Vilhjalmur Stefansson abandoned the expedition. After being stranded for several months, Bartlett and Inuit hunter Kataktovik walked 700 miles from Wrangel Island over the ice of the Chukchi Sea and across Siberia and then mounted an expedition from Alaska to rescue his surviving companions on Wrangel Island. He received the highest award from the Royal Geographical Society for his outstanding heroism.
Author Eric Walters documented some of the aspects of his journey to find Arctic islands in the historical novels Trapped in Ice and The Pole.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Jean-Baptiste Charcot (2)

After their first Antarctic expeditions, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Commander Jean-Baptiste Charcot had realised the advantages the new methods of traction on snow could offer. 
They decided to test the new automotive sleds, complete with mechanical transmission and air-cooled engines, built by Dion-Bouton, at the Lautaret pass (2,058m) On 13 March 1908 Jean-Baptiste Charcot, his wife, Captain Scott, Lieutenant Michael Barne, Engineer Officer Reginald Skelton, a Dion-Bouton Engineer Edmond Coursier, and Lieutenant Labesse, along with a dozen Chasseurs Alpin, all gathered at the Lautaret pass. 
The trials were held in temperatures of -12°C, but the prototypes were too heavy (200 - 750 kg unloaded) and their performance was disappointing. Transported to the Antarctic the results obtained were mediocre at best. Once again the polar explorers ended up being accompanied by their trusted companions of traditional dog sleds.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Earl de Blonville and Jean-Baptiste Charcot

One of the last old-time adventurers and discoverers, Australian Earl de Blonville will be wearing his Auloronesa Foulard Alpin on his next expedition to the Arctic on the tall ship Courage, following in the footsteps of French explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot. Charcot himself was a true boinero too, wearing his Alpin during both Antarctic and Arctic expeditions.
Jean-Baptiste Charcot was appointed leader of the French Antarctic Expedition with the ship Français exploring the west coast of Graham Land from 1904 until 1907. The expedition reached Adelaide Island in 1905 and took pictures of the Palmer Archipelago and Loubet Coast. 
From 1908 until 1910, another expedition followed with the ship Pourquoi-Pas, exploring the Bellingshausen Sea and the Amundsen Sea and discovering Loubet Land, Marguerite Bay and Charcot Island, which was named after his father, Jean-Martin Charcot.
Later on, Jean-Baptiste Charcot explored Rockall in 1921 and Eastern Greenland and Svalbard from 1925 until 1936. He died when the Pourquoi-Pas? was wrecked in a storm off the coast of Iceland in 1936.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Boleslav Polívka

Boleslav Polívka (1949) is a Czech film and theatre actor, mime, playwright and screenwriter. Polívka played in more than 40 films.
Polívka's work as writer, director and mime performer is inspired by clowning, Commedia dell'arte, and early comedy films, but he occasionally introduces voice and words into his performances, which thus cross traditional theatrical boundaries into a form of "total acting". 
Since the early '90s he has founded and run several successful theatres in Brno, currently the Bolek Polivka Theatre. Nowadays Polivka gives guest performances at two theatres in Prague, the Vinohradské divadlo and the Divadlo Bez zábradlí, as well as theatres in Zlin.
His trademark is a bright yellow beret

Friday, August 19, 2016

Laurel & Hardy

Some wonderful vintage newsreels featuring Laurel and Hardy upon their visits to Britain; Oliver Hardy sporting a nice Basque beret.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Take Off Your Beret!

In 2012, with air pollution in Madrid getting to unacceptable levels, a popular campaign was started to reclaim clean air.
To visualize the cloud of smog, a beret, or boina, was chosen,hanging over the city. A poor metaphor of course, but alas, sometimes you have to give in a bit for a good cause.
The campaign's slogan became: “¡Quítate la Boina!” ("Take Off Your Beret!").

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vintage Beret Ads

Advertisement for Basque berets in Medellin, Colombia 1930. Many citizens of Medellin have Basque roots and the beret is still popular.
1937 ad for Boinas Elosegui.
Ad for Boinas Elosegui in a local Spanish (Basque?) newspaper, date unknown. 
1930 French ad for berets by Feutres Tirard.
Collection of vintage ads for KANGOL, still British made at that time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

León de Greiff

Francisco de Asís León Bogislao de Greiff Haeusler (1895 –1976), was a Colombian poet known for his stylistic innovations and deliberately eclectic use of obscure lexicon.
Best known simply as León de Greiff, he often used different pen names. The most popular were Leo le Gris and Gaspar de Nuit. The name León was given after Leo Tolstoy.
De Greiff was one of the founders of Los Panidas, a literary and artistic group established in 1915 in the city of Medellín.
León de Greiff with Gabriel García Márquez.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bleu de Travail - Working Blues

From today, at South Pacific Berets: Bleu de Travail!
Bleu de Travail translates as ‘working blues’ and is a catch all for the indigo-dyed cotton workwear popularised by French factory workers from the late 1800s. Bleu de Travail stands for jackets, shirts, or trousers, but when we talk about the Bleu de Travail today, it’s usually just the jacket. Simple, distinctive and hard-wearing; denim/jeans’ ancestor. 
Bleu de Travail has become very fashionable over the last 10 years; hip fashion stores in Tokyo, NYC and London charging up to $350.00 for a jacket. South Pacific Berets orders these jackets from established, old time manufacturers and sells at a much more reasonable and realistic price. Worldwide demand means shortages in supply and stock numbers are relatively low, but we restock, add and change as often as possible.
The Mercure is South Pacific Berets' own model - a classic bleu de travail in Bugatti blue; 100% heavy 320gr cotton, fitted with 2 large side pockets, 1 breast pocket and 1 interior pocket and covered button fastenings.
The Dutch HaVeP 3014 jacket is a true vintage original and a personal favourite. Unchanged since the 1950's, an original workman's jacket in 100% K1 2/1 twill weave 300gr navy cotton, fitted with 2 front pockets, 1 breast pocket and 1 inside pocket (all large enough to fit a well sized beret) and double row button fastening.