Wednesday, 1 February 2012

eBay Bargains - The Sketchbooks of John Harrison

'You can't judge a book by its cover' is a saying that Grillust doesn't really believe in as you usually can!

However, the lack of an exciting exterior didn't stop illustration and Design lecturer Tony Peart (33) putting his hand in his pocket and purchasing these four, elderly Winsor & Newton sketchbooks on eBay.

Why did he buy them?
Well, as you will have guessed by now, it was for the contents, not the covers.

Here are four pocket sketchbooks owned and used by a long forgotten illustrator called John R Harrison.

Harrison specialised in producing illustrations for the automotive and air industries (see business card above) and was active during the 1920's, 30's and 40's.

He worked for The Motor Owner magazine in October 1928 (above) and also worked for the Rootes group producing sales catalogue art. He also produced illustrations for Humber and Hillman cars in the 1930’s. Sadly, nothing more is known about him.

His remaining sketchbooks, produced in the early 1920's, remain as a concrete and moving testimony to his commitment and passion for recording his fellow man (and woman) on what must have been a daily basis. They provide us with a rare glimpse back to a time when observational drawing underpinned everything that an illustrator did.

If you would like to have a closer look at the originals, they will be in Tony and Dwayne's office for the next few days. Just ask.


  1. Go on tony, tell us how much?


  2. They averaged out at approximately £10 a pop!

  3. Per sketchbook or per page??

  4. Per sketchbook!

    If you prefer a price per page (32 pages in each book) the cost was 31p. Although, as each page is covered on both sides a more accurate costing would be 15p per drawing!

    At some point we'll scan them in their entirety and archive them on our Flickr page.