War is hell, but being a prisoner of war can be worse.
This January 1959 copy of Stag is an example of the joys of collecting old magazines. We bought it for three dollars, but it's being auctioned on Ebay right now for $100. Mort Kunstler handles the cover chores, illustrating Edward Newman's story “The P.O.W.s Who Broke Out of Rat Hell Stockade,” which deals with a group of Union soldiers during the U.S. Civil War who tunneled their way out of Richmond's Libby Prison. The story is true. The escape was one of the most successful breakouts of the war. The escapees were highly motivated due to the fact that Libby Prison was a hellhole that generated high mortality rates due to abuse, starvation, exposure to severe weather, and terrible overcrowding.
A contemporary newspaper had this to say: “They are huddled up and jammed into every nook and corner; at the bathing troughs, around the cooking stoves, everywhere there is a wrangling, jostling crowd; at night the floor of every room they occupy in the building is covered, every square inch of it, by uneasy slumberers, lying side by side, and heel to head, as tightly packed as if the prison were a huge, improbable box of nocturnal sardines.” Inside Stag is art from James Bama, Kunstler again, Joe Little, Al Rossi, and Bruce Minney. You also get model/actress Irène Tunc, who was Miss France of 1954 and appeared in about thirty films during a three-decade film career. All this and more below, in twenty-three scans.
Update: we got the following e-mail from James N:
The cover of Stag, January 1959 was painted by James Bama. The credit to Mort Kunstler as printed in the magazine was an editorial error. Bama has confirmed this. For the sake of historical accuracy it would be nice if you changed your Jan. 9, 2017 post to reflect Jim Bama's true credit.
We've talked a lot about how official credits can be wrong, so we're inclined to believe the cover was mistakenly attributed by editors because we already know they were human and made these types of goofs. But the process of collecting and curating vintage art offers the chance to get things right. So we're calling this cover a Bama, and thanks to James N. for taking the effort to write us.
The kiss that never ends.
The woman from the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt of a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a stranger in New York City's Times Square on August 14, 1945 has died at age ninety-two in Richmond, Virginia. The photo was made on Victory over Japan Day—better known as VJ Day—when New Yorkers were celebrating the end of World War II. Greta Friedman, who for many decades went identified, said of the moment, “It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed. [He] was very strong. I did not see him approaching, and before I know it I was in this tight grip.” While today such an act would be unambiguously categorized as sexual assault—which makes perfect sense, because what woman wants to be grabbed and kissed against their will?—Friedman's relatives have said that in “that circumstance, that situation, that time,” the still unidentified sailor did nothing wrong. The result was one of the most renowned photographs ever made.
Every little thing they do is magic.
We found this great vintage poster for the Turkish illusionist Zati Sungur, who began performing during the 1920s and parlayed his talent into international fame. Spending most of his career touring Europe, the Middle East and South America, he performed not only as Zati Sungur, but as Zati Bey, Sati Richmond, and Conde Sati von Richmond. In the 1930s he developed the famous illusion of sawing a model in half, which was adopted by nearly every illusionist in the world. He eventually opened the famous Universal Magic and Illusion Tricks Studio, where he taught scores of Turkish students his secrets. Sungur died in 1984, but is well known among today’s illusionists as one of the masters of the craft. We located a few other vintage posters for famous and semi-famous magicians, illusionists and seers, circa 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and we’ve shared them below.