Mary Evans Picture Library Celebrating 50 Years

If you happened to read my post entitled Scent and Scandal a little while back then you may remember me mentioning the Mary Evans Picture Library and the brilliant Luci Gosling who narrated the event providing all of the marvellous pictures and historical background.

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Well the library, based in Blackheath in South-East London, recently celebrated their 50th Anniversary and I was very lucky to be invited to their celebratory open day. This was a wonderful chance to take a good look around and have an excited nosy through their truly amazing archives.

Above the entrance and here inside the beautiful library in Blackheath.

Above the entrance and here inside the beautiful library in Blackheath.

The library, established in 1964 by Mary and her husband Hilary, hold the most unique collection of historical imagery for editorial and commercial use - images and archives of ordinary day to day life and of historical events throughout the years, preserved and loved within the walls of their Blackheath home.

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The Illustrated London News.

The Illustrated London News.

Among the many amazing collections that you can find there you will stumble across numerous wonderful copies of The Illustrated London News (above) as well as issues of Tatler dating back well into the early 1920's. Take a moment to thumb through just one of these great volumes and you will gain a rare glimpse into the lives of the well-heeled throughout a multitude of decades. See what they wore, where they went, what they ate and did on a daily basis. Even the advertisements are endlessly fascinating, and in many cases quite amusing as you see how different things were and how things have changed throughout the generations.

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Getting ready for Ascot with the Tatler.

Getting ready for Ascot with the Tatler.

On hand on the day there were a number of displays providing examples of the collections that the library house. All were incredible and very interesting.

We had a great chat with the very lovely Jerry Rendell, great-nephew of prolific silhouette artist Harry Lawrence Oakley. I couldn't quite believe that these silhouettes were cut by free hand and not pre-drawn or prepared. The skill and the detail was astounding. You could feel the raised edges of the final work and yet to look at the many images you would find it hard to believe that they were so delicately cut by hand.

The body of work that H. L. Oakley produced is vast and includes many profiles from his time serving in the army during the First World War. You may just recognise the THINK! poster below designed by Captain Oakley in collaboration with the North Eastern Railway company - used in stations all over their network.

Such a fascinating body of work and so very unusual. It's brilliant to see that Jerry and the library are working hard to ensure that everything is preserved and that the work receives the recognition that it deserves.

Jerry Rendell and the amazing work of his Great Uncle - H. L. Oakley.

Jerry Rendell and the amazing work of his Great Uncle - H. L. Oakley.

Now anyone that knows me well will know that I absolutely adore dogs! Here I have something in common with Mary Evans herself who was a passionate dog lover and often had her dogs with her when working at the library.

In 2003 Mary and the library were delighted to acquire the Thomas Fall archive of historic dog images which have proved incredibly popular - especially with me! Just another brilliant example of the variety and vastness of the images, books, archives and wonderful items housed and made available for public use by this fantastic library. 

I had a great time looking at the dog display and thumbing through some of the beautiful old books that were on offer.

So if imagery and history spark your interest check out the website for more information: www.maryevans.com where you can find out much, much more. 

Such a magnificent collection and I am truly happy to have been able to take a peek! Happy 50th Anniversary to this wonderful library and here's to many, many more.