The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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9:55am on Thursday, 23rd June, 2005:



Hanging on the wall of our downstairs toilet is a picture of Galina Oulanova, or Galina Sergeyevna Ulanova as her name is usually rendered in English:

Her defection from the Kirov (Mariinsky) to the Bolshoi triggered the latter's rise to pre-eminence in Russian ballet.

So why do I have a picture of a 1940s Russian ballet-dancer hanging in my downstairs toilet?

The location is no reflection on Galina, it's just that there was some wall space there and I wanted something interesting to put up so that people had something to look at while they were, er, waiting for inspiration. But still, why Galina?

Well it's not just Galina. She's actually the centrepiece of a display of several Russian ballet-dancers:

The thing is, those aren't ordinary pictures. Those are matchbox labels. My grandfather collected matchbox labels avidly, and because I was the only person who ever showed any interest in his hobby he left them all to me when he died. I have 26,000 of them in my attic. I didn't get the ones he kept on display, because those were claimed by his (second) wife; gawd knows what happened to the one from the Boer war with a tallow candle in it, but he always said it was worth more than the rest of the collection put together. That's not saying much, of course, given that there isn't really much call for matchbox label collections, but still, I really liked that matchbox...

Most of my grandfather's collection consists of individual matchboxes that differ only in tiny details ("Can't you see? The average contents has one down to 43 from 44"). However, some of them are in sets, and these can be very impressive. Unfortunately, most of these sets have 90 or so labels in them, so it's impractical to get them mounted. The Russian ballet one and another, Japanese ladies one (which I may show you another day) were more manageable in number, so they were the ones I got mounted. There are some more I'd like to have on display, but my wife doesn't want me to "overdo it" (ie. she's indulging me by letting me have even these two sets on the wall).

Oh well, I like them!

Galina Oulanova died in 1998, aged 88.

Referenced by Japanese Ladies.

Referenced by Art Collection.

Referenced by Where I Work #4.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).