Monday, 2 March 2009

"Artistry & History Underfoot" - A Study of Coalhole Covers (Gillian Cooksey)

Every now and then you read a book that really satisfies, really hits the spot. The sort of book that for whatever reason and whatever time in your life just makes you think 'I wish I'd written this'. I've had a few of these myself, mostly from the late teens/early twenties and a pretty varied bunch they are as well. From "The Diary of a Nobody" & "A Confederacy of Dunces" to the lesser known "A Voice Through A Cloud" by Denton Welch and Endo's "The Samurai". They are all still sitting on my shelves, unread for many a year but still treasured.

So it's nice to come across another book to add to them and also interesting to see how my tastes have changed over the intervening years, because I'm sure the younger me wouldn't have believed I could apply the ''I wish I'd written this' test on a book about coalhole covers!

(Haywards Self Locking Plate - Kingston n.b. not an illustration from the book!)

I have to say that it's highly unlikely I'd of written a book on coalhole covers anyway, but what this book does, is to answer in a very succinct and clear way all those questions I've been pondering on over the last few months - including potted histories of some of the companies and foundry's; an explanation as to production methods when casting the iron; the breakdown of different styles and the differing design properties utilised. There's also, amongst others, a section on coalhole plates with spelling mistakes and the whole work is copiously illustrated with a huge number of designs. It really does qualify as a Fieldwork reference book for all budding coalhole enthusiasts (which I guess includes me). Highly recommended.

The author, Gillian Cooksey, has been collecting coalholes on and off since the seventies as an offshot of her interest in brass rubbing and you can only wonder how many of the unusual or even unique designs she 's captured are still in situ. I'm never one to miss the opportunity for another blog entry, so Gillian has kindly answered some questions about her hobby, her book and how she developed her unusual recording techniques in an age before the digital camera. I'll be posting that up over the next day or so.

"Artistry & History Underfoot" is available either from (£10.09 +p&p) or from the author direct on 01923 241688 (£10 post free). The Lulu link also shows the cover with a description of the contents.

Unlike all my novels though, this one won't be sitting on a shelf for years!

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