Bookbarn International – The Cat Edition

I’d just finished filming in Bristol and was meant to head straight back to London but the gravitational pull of the Bookbarn was just too strong.  I’ve lost hours in here before – what, with the ONE MILLION books on offer for ONE POUND and the exceptional veggie cafe – so I put a restriction on myself, I was allowed to stay for one hour, have one coffee and browse one section of books…  of course, I chose the cat section.

Now, in any other bookshop, the cat section would probably be a third of a shelf.  In the Bookbarn, it’s 2 tall bookcases stuffed with hundreds of books.  In fact, there were so many, I decided to pass over any books which were mainly photographic and just concentrate on the ones which veered towards vintage illustration.

By the way, for a more detailed look at Bookbarn International itself, check my previous blogs here —> Bookbarn 1 and here —> Bookbarn 2

The Illustrated Cat Poster Book by Jean-Claude Suares and Seymour Chwast

The Illustrated Cat Poster Book by Jean-Claude Suares and Seymour Chwast

I was so pleased to find a copy of The Illustrated Cat Poster book.  Its bright cover featuring Matthew’s Cat by American artist, Paul Davis caught my eye immediately.  This big book is packed of full-page posters of beautiful cat art through the ages.  Everyone from Picasso and Renoir to Steinlen and Wyeth are here.  There are over 30 full-colour posters and, remember, I bought this book for ONE POUND! Get thee to the Bookbarn pronto!

I also picked up the 2 books above which have hundreds of cat illustrations like these below…

The good thing about vintage book hunting is you always get to see the well-loved artists such as Hogarth and Beatrix Potter but also less-familiar images like the colourful kittens in Carter’s Kittens by The Carter Ink Company (right).

You also stumble across new artists who you were completely unaware of.  I love these 2 siamese cats so much, I have just searched for the artist online and already have an old copy of the original book on its way to me.  They are from The Elegant Beast by Leonard Lubin.

from The Elegant Beast by Leonard Lubin

from The Elegant Beast by Leonard Lubin

Then imagine my delight when I found a copy of Louis Wain’s Edwardian Cats on the shelf.  As you know, Wain is my hero and I have a big project planned for him next year. Watch this space…

Another fantastic discovery was the book plate with these faces of 19th Century Japanese cat actors by Kuniyoshi.  They make me laugh so much, I’ve added them to list for further investigation – I need to see more!!!

Faces of cat-actors by Kuniyoshi c.1942

Faces of cat-actors by Kuniyoshi c.1942

Quite a nice little haul here, I also picked up a handful of others but as always, don’t have the time to feature them all… I can’t recommend a trip to the Bookbarn enough… it’s seriously worth a day trip from London, even further.  Any bibliophile or vintage image enthusiast can easily while a day away here, maybe even 2?  Why not book a local B&B and make a weekend of it.  I will be back there soon.


Richard Fry




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