Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Raymond Sheppard and the hunt for the hairy frogs

"Hunt for the hairy frogs" -
Lilliput October 1954 p.36
In amongst my many alerts on the Internet, I tripped over one I had seen previously but forgotten. I knew I'd get round to it one day, and that day has arrived, thanks to the lovely reproduction on the Howgill Tattershall Fine Art site - used with permission - check out their other Sheppard pieces for sale here .

I have previously written about some of Gerald Durrell's stories in Lilliput magazine which Raymond Sheppard illustrated, (he also did some for Durrell's stories in Everybodys - keep reading).

Lilliput October 1954 Cover by Victoria
Lilliput October 1954 (Vol: 35, 4, # 208 for those who want to be precise) contained an unusual story - "Hunt for the hairy frogs" by Gerald Durrell. It's another tale from The Bafut Beagles published in the same year, 1954, (the excellent Reprojackets has a lovely copy of the first edition dustjacket to view).

Lilliput October 1954 p.36
The town of Bafut is in the Northwest Province of Cameroon and Durrell writes how he came to choose it for his specimen-collecting adventures:
I was not certain which part of the grasslands would be the best for me to operate in, so I went to the District Officer for advice. I explained my dilemma, and he produced a map of the mountains and together we pored over it. Suddenly he dabbed his forefinger down and glanced at me.
'What about Bafut? ' he asked.
'Is that a good place? What are the people like?'
'There is only one person you have to worry about in Bafut, and that's the Fon,' he said; 'get him on your side and the people will help you all they can.'
'Is he the chief?'
'He's the sort of Nero of this region,'
said the D.O., marking a large circle on the map with his finger, 'and what he says goes. He's the most delightful old rogue, and the quickest and surest way to his heart is to prove to him that you can carry your liquor. He's got a wonderful great villa there, which he built in case he had any European visitors, and I'm sure if you wrote to him he would let you stay there. It's worth a visit, is Bafut, even if you don't stay.'
Lilliput October 1954 p.37
The Fon is portrayed affectionately, sometimes from the naturally, for the time, imperialistic white perspective. The character is so well 'drawn' he is very memorable.

So who or what are the Beagles of the title? Durrell explains:
In order to hunt for the various members of the Bafut fauna, I employed, as well as the four hunters the Fon had supplied, a pack of six thin and ungainly mongrels, who, their owners assured me, were the finest hunting dogs in West Africa. I called this untidy ensemble of men and dogs the Bafut Beagles. Although the hunters did not understand the meaning of this title they grew extremely proud of it, and I once heard a hunter, when arguing with a neighbour, proclaim in shrill and indignant tones, 'You no go shout me like dat, ma friend. You no savvay dat I be Bafut Beagle?'
Lilliput October 1954 p.38
If you're interested in the New Scientist information on our hairy frog, follow this link, to see how the claws work; how the 'hair' appears and how Cameroonians eat the frog after roasting it.

As I've sat down to write this I thought I might as well add the only other Durrell story that I have illustrated by Sheppard which appeared in the large sized Everybody's  of September 1, 1956.

Everybody's September 1 1956
The cover, with Arthur Askey, (remember him, boys and girls?) gives no clue that the wonderful Durrell story "High jinks in the jungle" appears within.
Everybody's September 1 1956, pp.14-15
Durrell writes about his adventures, this time, in South America. They tell the amusing story of trying to catch a skunk - I'm now reminded of the wonderful PepĂ© Le Pew and a quick distraction during the festive season never goes amiss. Ah, nostalgia!

"Round and round the skunk I didn't want, pranced our barking, frenzied dog, Sortito"

"Another of the author's captive specimens was an ibis
he christened Dracula becuae of its funereal black plumage"

The next snippet is about a crab-eating raccoon, nicknamed, Pooh, who turns out to be an escapologist who gets bored easily and despite his rotund appearance is very active.
"Pooh, the raccoon, would play for hours with old cine-film,
scanning it like a producer with his latest epic"
After a lot of chasing, Durrell's cook has a rail cornered under the bed. Durrell, on return, provides some water in a cigarette tin and straight away the bird pierces the tin with its beak!

"Our short-tempered rail stabbed at the cigarette tin of water I put in his cage
His beak went completely through the metal"
"The horned toad with its vice-like jaws caught my thumb in a most painful way "
The last tale is of how Durrell, trying to impress on his cook that these toads are not "wicked animals" demonstrates by placing his thumb in a horned toad's mouth... with painful results!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Raymond Sheppard Auctions

I thought, as two very interesting pieces have come up for auction, I'd add a few pieces that are currently on sale. Although I do carefully list anything that comes up for auction for Frank Bellamy (on my other blog) but I haven't done the same for Sheppard as there are frequent appearances of many types of his artwork. I may add them as and when they turn up from now on...let's see.

View from Aldbury

Title: Pencil on Paper 'View Near Aldbury 1956'' by Raymond Sheppard
Buy It Now: £175.00  or Make Offer
Seller: handicraft-antiques
Date first shown on sale:24 Oct 2014  - previously sold for £194 May 2014 on eBay

Michael in rocking chair with cat's cradle

Title: Pen and Ink and Watercolour by Raymond Sheppard [Michael and the cat's cradle] 
Buy It Now: £295.00  or Make Offer
Seller: handicraft-antiques
Date first shown on sale:24 Oct 2014  - previously sold for £194 May 2014 on eBay

Tiger walks into icy, snowy river

Title: RARE RAYMOND SHEPPARD 1913-1958 TIGER WATER COLOUR PAINTING ORIGINAL [Tiger in snow walks into icy water]
Auction: £1,500 or Buy it now: £2,500
Seller: wishingonarainbow2  
Date of auction: Oct 2014

Raccoon watches hole in ground

Title: RARE RAYMOND SHEPPARD 1913-1958 RACCOON WATER COLOUR PAINTING [Raccoon watches hole in ground]
Auction: £1,000 or Buy it now: £1,500
Seller: wishingonarainbow2 
Date of auction: Oct 2014

The two colour pieces above (Tiger and Raccoon) appear to me to be for publication rather than the usual sketches, but I have no idea where!

The three colour pieces below all come from M. D. Hillyard (Mary Dorothea Maitland Hillyard) books published by Blackie and Son in the 1930s and 1940s about a family and their travels, predominantly in a caravan. I'll blog more on these books in due course

From Hillyard's Our Camping Holiday

Title: Raymond Sheppard (1913-1958) Watercolour on board, 'Fairground'. [Boy screams with joy on carousel horse
Auction:  Estimate: £150-£200 - Realised £170
Seller: Hannam's Auctioneers
Date of auction: 3 Nov 2016 (Lot 874)

Size: 1' x 1' 4.5"

From Hillyard's Our House on Wheels
Title: Raymond Sheppard (1913-1958) Watercolour on board, 'Caravan'. [Car drags caravan uphill]
Auction:  Estimate: £150-£200 - Realised £180
Seller: Hannam's Auctioneers
Date of auction: 3 Nov 2016 (Lot 875)
Size: 1' x 1' 4.5"

From Hillyard's Our Caravan

Title: Raymond Sheppard (1913-1958) Watercolour on board, 'Snowy Walk'. [Family of five walk through the snow (Caravan in background)]
Auction:  Estimate: £150-£200 - Realised £180
Seller: Hannam's Auctioneers
Date of auction: 3 Nov 2016 (Lot 876)
Size: 1' x 1' 4.5"

Monday, 17 October 2016

Raymond Sheppard bird sketches (Part 2)

Here are some more of Raymond Sheppard's bird sketches that I started to look at previously on this blog. If you can help identify the bird species I'd love to hear from you. My email is below

Vulture studies

King Bird of Paradise, New Guinea




Chestnut-eared Aracaris

Crimson-rumped Toucant

Nepal Hill Myna and Indian Roller

Many sparrows






Lovely outline sketches of penguins

Eagle owl

Bateleur Eagle

Pagoda Starling & Golden fronted bird(?)

Great Barbet (Himalayas)


Cock of the Rock



White-collared kingfisher


Wood thrush

Monday, 3 October 2016

Raymond Sheppard and Young Elizabethan magazine (Part Three)

Leave it to Jones by John Kippax Young Elizabethan January 1956

Cover by John Verney
See my notes on John Hynam in my previous article, here he uses the name John Kippax

Young Elizabethan January 1956, p.19

Young Elizabethan January 1956, p.21

The haunted schooner by Wilmon Menard Young Elizabethan July 1956

Young Elizabethan July 1956 p.15
It appears, if we have the same author, our unusually named author was born September 16, 1908 in Beverly, Massachusetts, USA and died July 25, 1998 (age 89) in San Diego, California, USA and wrote the story on which a Walter Pidgeon film called 6000 enemies (1939) was based. It seems obvious that Menard spent a lot of time in the South Seas and in 1965 was living in Honolulu. He also wrote a biography of W. Somerset Maugham as both men had the South Seas in common. many of Menard's stories appear to be based around the adventures at sea one way or another. he is even credited with making known the sport of octopus wrestling! Follow the link for a photo of Menard.
 His earliest piece I have found is in Wide World magazine May 1936; "Fire-Walkers of the South Seas". Many of his writings were for short story/fact magazines such as Adventure, Argosy, The Saturday Review, Wide World and some fantasy/science-fiction. You can read some of his work here 
and see a list of some of his fiction here

Flash the otter by Jeffrey Pearson Young Elizabethan February 1957

Young Elizabethan February 1957 p.19

Noel Streatfeild's Book Page Young Elizabethan April 1957

Young Elizabethan April 1957 p.21
To see the illustrations that Noel Streatfeild didn't show much interest in, visit my earliest blog pages

Anek's Tapek by Keith Horan Young Elizabethan June 1957

Young Elizabethan June 1957, p.10

Keith Horan wrote many stories for Boy's Own Paper during the 50s, (three of which were illustrated by Frank Bellamy) and we have seen one already by Sheppard. The Fictionmags Index shows some of these and Horan's work also appears in Wide World Magazine during the 50s.