An advertisement page taken from an original souvenir theatre programme for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard, produced by D’Oyly Carte at the Savoy Theatre in 1888, adorns this invitation card. These souvenir programmes produced by the Savoy were for theatregoers in the better seats and were de rigueur at the Savoy for about five years.

Burnet's Specialities Invitation

Burnet’s Specialities by First Night Design

Researching some of the companies advertising in the programme reveals some interesting snippets of history.

Sangster & Co was founded in 1872 and based at 75 Cheapside, London, and, as can be seen in the larger image below, were ‘makers to the Queen and the Royal Family’.  Further outlets followed in Regent Street, Fleet Street and Royal Exchange.  As someone who often has to use a walking stick when not in a wheelchair or mobility scooter, what appeals to me especially is the strapline stating that their products come in the ‘newest designs and latest fashion’.  Would that this were the case today, especially those supplied by the NHS! According to The National Archives, the company manufactured ‘umbrellas, parasols, whips and canes’!  The idea of whips is anathema these days (except, perhaps, to the likes of Max Mosley!) but conjures up a Victorian world  in which caning and whipping were acceptable and encouraged, especially with regard to children.

The only mention I can find online regarding the draper Burnet in Covent Garden is in The Illustrated London News of 24th May to 9th August 1851 in which it is reported that one  ‘Richard Burnet, draper of Piazza, Covent Garden presented money to children of St Paul’s Charity School, Covent Garden to allow them to visit Crystal Palace’.  Charitable gentleman!

I have discovered that there is a company by the name of the Anglo-Austrian Patisserie Limited, based in Southfields, Sw18, but whether this is a continuation of the company advertising in this Savoy programme, I cannot say.

As for Marcovitch of Piccadilly cigarettes, which were sold at the theatre bar, they sound both refreshing and exotic with names such as ‘Daphne’, ‘Air Street’, ‘Punjab’, ‘Ramadan’ and ‘Pellegrini’!  Sited in Regent Street, they began producing cigarettes in the early to mid-nineteenth century and went on producing until well into the 1950s.  They were especially popular in the ’40s and ’50s and you will find many a Marcovitch cigarette tin from these two decades for auction, whether on eBay or other auction sites.  In the 1960s, they were swallowed up by the United Kingdom Tobacco Company Ltd and Philip Morris in the US.

Birkbeck Bank in Chancery Lane, London, operated between 1851 and 1911.  According to the Royal Bank of Scotland archives, of which the bank is a past constituent, a run on money during 1910 and the depreciation in value of gilt-edged securities led to its downfall in 1911.  Birkbeck Bank’s ‘goodwill and premises were purchased from the receiver by London County & Westminster Bank Ltd’.

If Marcovitch cigarettes and Anglo-Austrian confectionery played havoc with your health, there was always Pepper’s Quinine & Iron Tonic alongside Sulpholine soap to restore your health!  These were two of many such products available at the time, most of them somewhat suspect.  The Pepper’s Quinine could, the company assured its customers, give you digestive strength and cure neuralgia and palpitations, while the soap could clear the skin, remove pimples, blotches and scurf as well as ‘attack’ old skin diseases!  What more could one want!  While there’s no doubt that quinine as an ingredient could help with pain, I doubt whether the soap was remotely efficacious except for cleaning the skin, in spite of the company’s claim that the soap ‘renders the most disfigured Skin presentable’.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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