Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Day 1959 with the Swift Annual Nu 4

This is the third of those comic annuals produced by the Hulton Press in the 1950s.

Swift like its companions, Eagle, Girl and Robin aimed to provide a mix of adventure stories, practical activities and a focus all things historical and scientific.

And like the others it issued an Annual at Christmas.
Swift Number 4 was published in 1957 and along with strip cartoons there were extended stories, and articles on Man 20,000 years ago, the Lighthouse, St Egwin, and a visit to Swift’s sweet factory.

Like the companion volumes there were plenty of line drawings and colour plates on Birds in the Garden, Wonderful Ants and The Story of Transport.

Now Hulton knew they were on to a winning formula and were not adverse to featuring commercial companies which appeared in the stories, so in Eagle there was Tommy Walls after the ice cream company and in Swift, Ladybird made an appearance in the Sign of The Scarlet Ladybird.

There were also DIY pages and what turned out to be my favourite Trains that run Underground.

Today, they seem a little quaint but at the time they were at the sharp end of what children wanted to know and what they wanted to read.

Looking again at my Swift Annual I have to say that the stories and pictures are pure 1950s.

I treasure the images of the trains and cars and enjoy just slipping back to what for a youngster was a carefree time.

At which point there is that danger of nostalgia creeping in so I might just sit down and make one of the many interesting things that Swift offered up.

In Number 4 these ranged from making animals from pipe cleaners to a Knight in Armour and a Cotton Reel Tank.

But Swift was aimed at both boys and girls and DIY acticities like the stories and featurs crossed what was thought at the time to be the gender divide, so for every tank there was advice on hos to make a  Raffia Girl from dusters, bamboo sticks and garden seeds.

And that is one of the charms of the book for the materials were what could be found in a 1950s house and that from memeory did include pipe cleaners, and discarded cotton bobbins.

I doubt that even then I could laugh at the jokes from page 117 of which these may be the best. Q."Why is a dog's tail like the inside of a tree? A. Because it is farthest from the bark, or Q. What is most like a horse shoe? A. His othershoes."

Now that said  I think this is the moment to close leaving me only to ponder on whether I shall explore the last of the Hulton four which was Robin, or strike off into one of the many rivals.
We shall see.

Pictures; from Swift Annual Number 4, 1959, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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