Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Dating London: a brief update

Some random notes, really.

The book seems very much to have photographs taken in "summer conditions" and other photographs taken in "cooler/overcast weather," based on the apparent quality of light (e.g. soft/sharp shadows) and the clothing (e.g. scarves, sweaters) being worn in the pictures. This could simply be a hot day followed by a chilly day, but is also consistent with one trip to photograph in the summer of 1969, and another trip at another, less summery, time. Given that the book appeared in late 1969, this suggests spring of 1969 or earlier.

There are only a handful of photographs of Protest in the book. Of those, I am able to locate only one, as a modest crowd passes by The Coal Hole and Savoy Taylors' Guild, on The Strand. This is consistent with the Oct 27, 1968 protest, which formed up more or less at Ludgate Circus, passed down Fleet and then The Strand, en route to Trafalgar Square where the fun really began.

The clothing in all the protest photos is consistent with the "cooler weather" photos: sweaters, scarves and overcoats are in evidence.

Posters from the Poster Works appear in the two large protest photos: NO GREEKS IN VIET NAM, WORKERS' CONTROL, UK 51st STATE OF THE US, are all visible in the book, if you look closely. All of these posters are in wide evidence in the press photos from the Oct 27, 1968 protest, and the dress in those same press photos is again similar.

Photos of earlier protests contain no Poster Works posters, because they did not exist. Later protests, however, also don't seem to feature these posters particularly. Indeed, the protest situation in the summer of 1969 is fairly scattered, things were going on, but it seems to have been fairly small potatos. Anyway, I cannot find the same kind of signage in those photos.

In addition, a REMEMBER WHOSE VIOLENCE WE ARE PROTESTING AGAINST poster appears in both press photos, and Butturini's. I would have sworn that this is another Poster Workshop product, but I cannot find it in their gallery today. Perhaps I am simply missing it.

There are, in short, no obvious differences between Butturini's pictures of protest, and the press photos of the Oct 27 march, and there are a number of points of similarity.

Even the NO GREEKS poster, dated tentatively by Sam Lord as later, appears in at least one press photo dated Oct 27, 1968. Someone is in error, here.

Given that the unrelated photo, by Butturini, of the Criterion Theater appears absolutely to have been taken in 1968, and given that apparent lighting, and the dress of the person in the photo is again consistent with the "cooler weather" my working hypothesis is that Butturini was in town for the Oct 27, 1968 protest march, and shot both the protest and some other material. Possibly a fair bit of material, based on the clothing choices that appear throughout the book.

Since this march was planned and led by the larger British Socialist coalition, and given that Butturini was a politically active socialist himself, I consider is possible, even likely, that Butturini was aware of the planning, and made a trip to London for the express purpose of photographing the march, and/or taking part in it. Of course, this does not preclude the possibility that he had one or more other reasons to go to London.

The Butturini family, it must be noted, has backed off on the assertion that Gian Butturini was in London in 1968 at all, claiming that his first trip there was indeed in 1969, a few months before the book was printed. This appears to be impossible, or at any rate is only possible if every date we've been able to uncover for The Real Inspector Hound's performance is simultaneously wrong.

It's not clear that much further can be done here. If I could locate, for instance, a hand-made banner from Butturini's pictures in a press photo, we might have something firmer, but I cannot so far. At this point, we'd probably need to access Butturini's archive, and attempt to date rolls of film. This, I suspect, is pretty doable assuming those archives exist.

I am not, however, going to attempt any such trip.


  1. What we need is Butturini's passport!

    Although I'm not altogether sure why we're troubled by this in the first place...


    1. Are you proposing that it might, sometimes, be ok to allow a footnote to be wrong?

      I don't think so.

    2. OK, then, The Italian Job it is: a simple break-in, rummage through a few drawers, and quick getaway. What could possibly go wrong?

      The game's afoot!