For many years I have been acquiring vintage scrapbooks whenever the opportunity arose. There are now about 25 examples on my shelves. They fall into two categories – the specialist, devoted to a single subject such as travel, fashion, dogs, flowers and gardens, trains, cars or cartoon strips, and the generalist, almost always a varied selection of imagery guided by a female sensibility. A hundred years ago compiling scrapbooks was a respectable occupation for young ladies of leisure whose prosperous parents encouraged any time consuming activity that might offer distraction. Wartime scrapbooks were a popular way of recording the progress of the conflict but after 1945 the scrapbook went into sharp decline – never quite disappearing but of marginal interest. The recent revival of interest is curious but perhaps it meets a need for something physical and tangible as opposed to digital. What you see online suggests that for many participants it’s a way of recording a visual diary. At its most basic it seems to be no more than tastefully rearranging pre-purchased materials.
This example is the work of a child at the end of the 1920s – female and from a good home with a ready supply of printed material to be snipped and pasted. The pages are organised thematically – floral display, party food, holidays, Christmas, wild life, plus some gentlemen’s pursuits - hunting with dogs and tobacco products. Illustrations by Lawson Wood, Beatrix Potter and Harry Rountree can be seen alongside trade cards from Typhoo Tea and Player’s Cigarettes. Some enduring consumer products such as Bird’s Custard and Bovril also feature. Please click on the YouTube link below to view the pages.