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FROM THE ARCHIVE 27th March 2011
On the right is one of my latest designs, There are No Small Parts, which features a couple of characters taken from an original programme for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company production of Gil…

Source: That’s Entertainment! | First Night Design

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London Theatre Land — Late 19th Century-Early 20th Century

A little trip back in time when going to the theatre or opera was a grand occasion, manners mattered and programmes were beautiful mementoes to be kept and treasured, a time when advertisements pleased the eye in ways they no longer do.

The Gondoliers Postcard
The Gondoliers Postcard by FirstNightDesign

Royal English Opera's Ivanhoe Greeting Card
Royal English Opera’s Ivanhoe Greeting Card by FirstNightDesign

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Schweppes Table Waters Postcard Postcard
Schweppes Table Waters Postcard

These gorgeous advertisements, which have recently sold as postcards, come from my collection of theatre programmes for late nineteenth century D’Oyly Carte productions at the Savoy Theatre in London, including The Yeoman of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

In other news, my internet connection is still appalling. I suspect it’s because I have used up the allowed bandwidth for the month (I connect via a USB stick) as a result of the endless downloading and installing necessary for this new MacBook. It makes visiting, liking and commenting on your blogs almost impossible, which is exceedingly frustrating. Please know that I am there in spirit!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


First Night Design

This advertisement for Collinson & Lock is from a D’Oyly Carte programme for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard at the Savoy Theatre in 1888. Collinson & Lock was a prominent furniture company, founded in the 1860s by F G Collinson and G J Lock, which concentrated on Art Nouveau and Aesthetic designs.

The company’s theatrical links are fascinating. Amongst other work, Collinson & Lock were responsible for decorating the new Savoy Theatre in 1881, while their most famous designer was the architect Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) who was inspired to design for the theatre by his affair with the actress Ellen Terry when she was still married to her first husband, the artist George Frederick Watts.

The union produced two children, the distinguished theatre designer, Edward Gordon Craig (1872–1966) and the theatre director, producer, costume designer and sometime actress Edith…

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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


This advertisement for Collinson & Lock is from a D’Oyly Carte programme for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard at the Savoy Theatre in 1888. Collinson & Lock was a prominent furniture company, founded in the 1860s by F G Collinson and G J Lock, which concentrated on Art Nouveau and Aesthetic designs.

The company’s theatrical links are fascinating. Amongst other work, Collinson & Lock were responsible for decorating the new Savoy Theatre in 1881, while their most famous designer was the architect Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) who was inspired to design for the theatre by his affair with the actress Ellen Terry when she was still married to her first husband, the artist George Frederick Watts.

The union produced two children, the distinguished theatre designer, Edward Gordon Craig (1872–1966) and the theatre director, producer, costume designer and sometime actress Edith Craig (1869-1947). Some of Collinson & Lock’s pieces are on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


There are No Small PartsOn the right is one of my latest designs, There are No Small Parts, which features a couple of characters taken from an original programme for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers at the Savoy Theatre in London in 1889. Accompanying the illustration is a classic theatrical saying: “There are no small parts, only small actors.”

Theatrical expressions are legion and, while many are merely superstitious, some of them, like this one, contain valuable nuggets of advice.  There are no small parts and while an actor may wish for a larger part to show off his or her talents, it is always worth remembering that with a small part one can give a performance that outshines all others on stage.  My late mother, actress and writer Benedicta Leigh, once played a maid in the West End in the 1950s and ‘stole all the notices’, even though the production had two or three stars in its cast!

Ballet and Theatre

This next image, Ballet and Theatre, is of unknown origin, which I bought from my colleague Mindy Sommers of  Vintage Art Download.  At a guess, it dates from the late 1910s or early 1920s and was possibly the cover of a ballet and theatre periodical.  It bears a stylistic resemblance to the posters and programmes for the Ballets Russes, including those illustrated by Leon Bakst.  Perhaps one of you may be able to shed some light on it.  The image is now available on all products at my gallery.  While it is categorized under Good Luck, the image would be suitable for any occasion.

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

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