The 1920s Scrapbook, compiled by Robert Opie, published by New Cavendish Books on September 8. ISBN 1872727948 £14.95hb
The first item in Robert Opie’s collection was a Munchies pack bought by Robert on Inverness railway station 40 years ago in September 1963, when he was 16.
He now has some 500,000 pieces covering everything from advertisements and branded goods to toys, comics, postcards and pop records. In 1995 the first of Robert’s vivacious Scrapbooks was published, illustrating life in Britain during WW2, all blackouts and air-raid precautions. It was a nostalgiafest sellout and eight Scrapbooks later these handwritten and unusual pictorial panoramas are particularly popular.
The 1920s Scrapbook evokes the wild Twenties and “the happy days are here again” after the unbelievable horrors of the Great War. There were two million unemployed and the General Strike was called by the TUC to back the coal miners’ with a million downing tools. Visitors to the vast British Empire Exhibition at Wembley gaped at the recreation of Tutankhamun’s tomb that had been discovered by Howard Carter in Luxor in 1922. In the US, Al Jolson warbled his way to fame in The Jazz Singer; the talkies had arrived, while Britons had reached every part of the globe and almost the top of Everest.
The 1920s saw men tweaking cats’ whiskers, women in short skirts powdering their noses in public and wearing red lipstick and eye shadow. Shameless hussies. From 1923 men wore sleeveless sweaters while listening to their three-valve wireless sets that would have cost £35; by the end of the decade there were 15 million listeners to the radio, but the news they heard was of the Wall Street crash and economic depression.
Wonderful potted, visually potent history books with 62 colour pages designed by Robert, written by him and photographed by Paul Forrester. First editions of these books will become collectors’ items.