We will call our tale The Two Doctors. As a child growing up in South Africa in the early 1970s, it was thrilling to receive glimpses of the world enjoyed by other kids in the English-speaking world. In particular, the local library had on its shelves the Target novelisations of the adventures of Doctor Who. These were devoured with an appetite otherwise reserved for koeksusters and Tex chocolate bars. How fortunate one’s British peers were to actually watch the BBC episodes on which the books were based! It would be decades before the low-budget delights of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor encountering Silurians, Daleks, Drashigs, Ogrons, Draconians and Sea Devils could be experienced in original form.
It should be mentioned that the novelisations, particularly those written by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke, were first-rate, an unusual case of book adaptations not being inferior to screened stories. However, one was denied the opportunity to make this assessment, partly because of another Doctor. As Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, Dr Albert Hertzog had decreed that TV would come to South Africa over his dead body, describing the medium as ‘a miniature bioscope over which parents would have no control.’ The whey-sipping verkrampte Doctor was ousted from the National Party in the late 1960s, but his viewpoint remained government policy, until the tentative introduction of a daily two-hour ration of TV in mid-1975. Because of the Equity actors union embargo, though, South Africa remained in a time warp inaccessible to even the TARDIS of the other Doctor. There was no chance whatsoever that South African children could join the intrepid Time Lord on his adventures.
If South Africa knew little or nothing of Doctor Who, the reverse was certainly not true. In an excellent article on the influences behind Doctor Who in the 1970s (Doctor Who Magazine, February 2017), Jonathan Morris points out that the episode The Mutants “was written as a metaphor for Apartheid in South Africa.” This is certainly evident in scenes where the native Solonians are segregated and “decontaminated” upon ascent to the Skybase One satellite of their colonial masters. For all its social conscience, however, Doctor Who of the era is marvellous escapism, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. In his article Christmas annuals in the attic – what are yours worth? (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-42311453), Neil Heath wrote for BBC News late last year that “A Jon Pertwee Dr Who annual could make £200.” We have a lovely example of such an annual this month.
Long before the advent of television, the London illustrated press gave readers the opportunity to see the people, events and places in the news. In a short-lived attempt to emulate The Illustrated London News, The Graphic and similar publications, The South African Illustrated News was launched in 1884. Heinrich Egersdörfer’s artwork was a key component of the publication’s offering. This month we have a coloured print by Egersdörfer showing The Convict Station at Storms River, Tzitzikama. This almost certainly depicts one of the convict stations supplying labour for the Tsitsikamma road constructed by Thomas Bain around this time, especially considering the picture, inset, of a “Road Inspector’s House.” We also have Eric Rosenthal’s Heinrich Egersdörfer: An Old-time Sketch Book, which offers a good introduction to the work and life of “a fine artist entirely forgotten.” And, we have some other coloured and mounted prints showing Eastern Cape scenes.
Have a good look at our list, which can be found here:
We are confident there is something for you. You are also encouraged to study the items we have on the latest auction of www.jellyfishtree.com, which concludes this evening. Our lots, with very competitive reserves, are these:
95 De Locale Wetten der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. 1887-1890
96 François le Vaillant. Traveller in South Africa 1781-1784, and his collection of 165 water-colour paintings
97 Pager: Ndedema. A documentation of the rock paintings of the Ndedema Gorge
98 Leibbrandt: Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope. Requesten (Memorials) 1715-1806
99 Barrow: An Account of Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa
100 Williams: The Diamond Mines of South Africa
101 Latrobe: Journal of a Visit to South Africa, in 1815, and 1816
102 Smith: Cape Views and Costumes
103 Flora Herscheliana: Sir John and Lady Herschel at the Cape, 1834 to 1838
107 The Flora Capensis of Jakob and Johann Philipp Breyne
108 Simon van der Stel’s Journey to Namaqualand in 1685
183 Park: Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: Performed under the Direction and Patronage of the African Association in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797
If you don’t manage to catch the auction before it closes at 6:30 pm South African time, please feel free to contact us afterwards should any of our unsold items interest you.
Lindsay and Wendy
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