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I’m delighted to have sold two of these greeting cards. It’s a montage of British actresses from the late 19th and early 20th century from my theatrical postcard collection. Those of you interested in theatre greats will be happy to learn that Dame Ellen Terry features three times, for which I make no apology! If young actors have not heard of her, they have no right to be on the stage. [Ed. Too obstinate?] As the late Alan Rickman said — and I’m oft repeating —  “The profession should be and is a kind of relay race – about information, opinions and passions being passed on.” [Theatregoer Magazine, November 2001]

Source: The Actresses Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Size: Standard Size Business Card, 3.5″ x 2.0″

When it comes to your business, don’t wait for opportunity, create it! Make a lasting impression with quality cards that WOW.

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Paper Type: Signature UV Matte

An upgrade from our Standard Matte, Signature UV Matte features a thicker and stiffer paper coated with a protective finish that can be written on. It provides the perfect base for creating long-lasting, high-quality designs with robust color and detail.

  • 18 pt thickness/ 325 GSM
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  • Made and printed in the USA

Source: Vesta Tilley Business Card | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Original & vintage art © First Night Design [www.firstnightdesign.wordpress.com]

Source: The Little Glass Slipper 1 Postcard | Zazzle

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


1877 first edition cover.

Black Beauty, a novel by English author Anna Sewell, was first published on the 24th of November, 1877. Considered to be a story about animal rights, the book is about t…

Source: On this day: the publication of Black Beauty | In Times Gone By…


This is an old book-plate by Ernest Haslehurst of a public house called The Grapes at Limehouse (once The Bunch of Grapes) that I bought from collectors Vintage Views. It would be fun to think this Taylor Walker & Co pub was the inspiration for Dickens and Fagin’s den in Oliver Twist but it certainly makes me think of the narrow cobbled streets of Victorian London where pickpockets and other nefarious persons would ply their trade. It dates from the 16th century but the frontage is Victorian.

Although the original is in good nick, it has a faded quality even though it has not actually faded, so I added a duplicate layer in Overlay to bring out the colour and detail.

Look closely — I can see Nancy on the balcony, and isn’t that Bill Sikes with his Staffy, Bullseye, coming up the ladder? And surely that’s Fagin himself at the curtain. Could this not, in fact, be the very place from which Sikes hanged himself?

The Grapes does have a connection to Dickens, however, since he knew that area of Limehouse well and probably based The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in Our Mutual Friend on it.

From the research I’ve done, I learn that the lessees are actor Sir Ian McKellen, director Sean Mathias and Evening Standard owner, Evgeny Lebedev, the trio having bought the pub in 2011; it looks as if it’s a charming place to find some excellent beer and food. Let me know if you visit.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


This is an adaptation of an original 1890s Criterion Theatre programme in my collection. I confess to being potty about it. The original image is the central strip which I copied, pasted and extended to form a background so that it was a classic card-shaped design. The Art Nouveau shapes and swirls are a treat and enable one to breathe in the theatrical atmosphere of late 19th century London.

The Criterion Theatre in September 2007 [Wikipedia]

The Criterion Theatre in September 2007 [Wikipedia]

This small, Grade II* listed theatre in Piccadilly Circus — it has an official capacity of 588 — opened on the site of an old hunting inn, the White Bear, in 1874. It has played host to some notable performances and productions, not least Charles Wyndham as David Garrick (1888),  John Gielgud in Musical Chairs (1932), Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears (1936-1939), Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1955), which transferred from the Arts Theatre with Peter Woodthorpe, Hugh Burden, Timothy Bateson, and Peter Bull, and Joe Orton’s Loot (1966) with Michael Bates and Kenneth Cranham.

Did you know that one has been able to hear the underground rumble of Piccadilly Line trains since 1906 when the station and line originally opened? It gives productions a certain something! To read more about the Criterion’s history, click here.

I’ve just discovered that John Gielgud’s performance in the above-mentioned Musical Chairs was criticised by Noël Coward. Gielgud wrote to him thus:

To Noël Coward

May 1932, London

Thank you very much for writing as you did. I was very upset at the time, because as you know I had always admired you and your work so very much and also because in a way I have always thought my success in the theatre only began after the Vortex time – this play was my own discovery and I had much to do with the casting and getting it produced, so naturally I was very anxious you of all people should like it. But you are quite right, of course. I act very badly in it sometimes, more especially I think when I know people who matter are in front. And such a small theatre as the Criterion is difficult for me, who am used to the wastes of the Old Vic and His Majesty’s. If I play down, they write and say I’m inaudible and if I act too much, the effect is dire. Now and again one can strike the happy mien and give a good performance. But then, it is no use trying to excuse oneself. I played ever so much better today after reading your letter, and I am really glad when I get honest criticism, though sometimes it’s a bit hard to decide whom to listen to and whom to ignore…
[Daily Telegraph – Gielgud’s Letters, introduced and edited by Richard Mangan, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson]

And here are Sir Charles Wyndham (1837-1919) as Garrick and Miss Mary Moore aka Lady Wyndham (1861-1931) as Ada Ingot in David Garrick at the Criterion Theatre in 1886, which is available as a greeting card.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America
Fine Art England

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


A few years ago, while working with Chestertons, I was asked to research the history of Bleak House in Broadstairs. It is well known as a house connected to the renowned Victorian author, for which, it is believed he said, it was ‘the residence he most desired.’

Today, Bleak House is noted for its crenelated appearance with a long row of windows looking out towards the sea, but when Charles Dickens stayed in the house it was known as Fort House and appeared much like a typical Georgian house. It was built around the turn of the 19th century and acquired the name ‘Fort House’ as it is believed it was the home of the Fort Captain. This was at a time when the Napoleonic wars were raging in Europe and like many coastal locations there was a genuine fear of invasion from…

Source: Dickens House for Christmas | House Historian


Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, 1833

Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, 1833

Despite their reputation for straight-laced sobriety, the Victorians celebrated Halloween with great enthusiasm – and often with outright abandon.  Victorian Halloween parties were filled with fun, games, and spooky rituals, some of which still feature at Halloween parties today.  Many of the games had origins in pagan religion or medieval superstition.  Others were merely a means of making merry with one’s friends.  Regardless, Halloween parties of the 19th century were an occasion for indulging in what author Hugh Miller describes in his 1876 book Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland as:

“….a multitude of wild mischievous games which were tolerated at no other season.”

For an example of a Victorian Halloween party, we need look no further than Queen Victoria herself.  In 1876, the queen, along with Princess Beatrice and the Marchioness of Ely, celebrated Halloween at Balmoral Castle on a grand scale.  Preparations took place for…

Source: A Victorian Halloween Party


The Bride Beautiful © Sarah Vernon

The Bride Beautiful © Sarah Vernon


“Dead people are easy to love. It’s the living ones who are hard.”
Laurence Overmire


This late Victorian beauty in her exquisite wedding gown is an ancestor. At least, I have assumed she’s part of my family. Unframed, she was among my father’s possessions when I was sorting everything out after he died in 1997. Was she a Vernon marrying someone else? Was she another lady marrying into the Vernon family.  She lay among a pile of other—recognisable—family photographs but I had never seen her before. There is nothing written on the back and it is too late to ask him about her identity. I have wondered ever since, a wondering that may well lead to a work of fiction!

It could be, of course, that she is from my mother’s (Hoskyns) side of the family and became accidentally mixed up with my father’s photographs. Her eyebrows suggest she’s a Hoskyns. Alas, I will never know.


“You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors.”
Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut


There was little restoration needed: I have merely brushed out the imperfections and made the sepia tones a little more vibrant. I almost adapted her in my usual way but when I added a French Brocante document as a faint background, Mr FND said, ’No!’ He was quite right.


“No one can be free who has a thousand ancestors.”
L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs


I did do a Google search in case the lady was a known person but all it came up with was ‘Best guess for this image: Lord Tweedmouth‘, which made me hoot with laughter.

Available at the following galleries:
Redbubble
Crated
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

Inveterate collector, Mike Henbrey has been acquiring harshly comic nineteenth century Valentines for more than twenty years.

Mischievously exploiting the anticipation of recipients on St Valentine’s Day, these grotesque insults couched in humorous style were sent to enemies and unwanted suitors, and to bad tradesmen by workmates and dissatisfied customers. Unsurprisingly, very few have survived which makes them incredibly rare and renders Mike’s collection all the more astonishing.

“I like them because they are nasty,” Mike admitted to me with a wicked grin, relishing the vigorous often surreal imagination at work in his cherished collection – of which a small selection are published here today for the  first time – revealing a strange sub-culture…

via Mike Henbrey’s Vinegar Valentines | Spitalfields Life.


I have a mild form of synaesthesia – I’m spelling it the English way — and see days of the week and months of the year in coloured shapes. My fellow blogging synaesthetes include Linda from Country Woman Paints and Benjamin from Expressions of My Life. I dedicate this reblog from The Public Domain Review to the two of you!

Originally posted The Public Domain Review

“The music of Mendelssohn”

Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia

Grounded in the theory that ideas, emotions, and even events, can manifest as visible auras, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s Thought-Forms (1901) is an odd and intriguing work. Benjamin Breen explores these “synesthetic” abstractions and asks to what extent they, and the Victorian mysticism of which they were born, influenced the Modernist movement that flourished in the following decades.

“I have always considered myself a voice of what I believe to be a greater renaissance — the revolt of the soul against the intellect — now beginning in the world,” wrote William Butler Yeats to his mentor, the Irish nationalist John O’Leary, in 1892. Yeats believed that magic was central not only to his art, but to a dawning epoch when spirituality and technology would march together toward an uncertain future.

Thought-Forms, a strange, beguiling, frequently pretentious, utterly original book first published in 1901, emerged from this ferment of late-Victorian mysticism. It was written by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, erstwhile members of the London Theosophical Society alongside Yeats, and it features a stunning…

via Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia | The Public Domain Review


Discreet French Charm

A change of pace to show you this charming vintage French advertising image, presumably to proclaim the delights of Saint Denis (see top of image), which comes from The Graphics Fairy. I enhanced the original and added the almond green border.

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Update 21-10-14: Alas, the Wilde family have very strict control of their famous forebear’s work and this wonderful image has not been allowed so is no longer for sale at my Zazzle vintage store.

Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony 1882 © First Night Vintage

Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony 1882 

New to my vintage store on Zazzle is this glorious sepia photograph of the inimitable Oscar Wilde. It was taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony and hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was able to use it as the image is in the public domain on Wikimedia.


“Ah, every day dear Herbert becomes de plus en plus Oscarié. It is a wonderful case of nature imitating art.” Wilde commenting on actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s unwitting acquisition of certain on-stage character traits in a Wilde play in his off-stage life.


Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah


Re-blogged from my history site.

First Night History

Originally posted on The Public Domain Review.

Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875 Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875

Leaving her close-knit artistic community on the Isle of Wight at the age of sixty to join her husband on the coffee plantations of Ceylon was not an easy move for the celebrated British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Eugenia Herbert explores the story behind the move and how the new environment was to impact Cameron’s art.

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has long evoked interest not only because of her distinctive style but also because of her eccentric personality, her dominant — very dominant — role in a circle that in many ways prefigured the Bloomsbury of her grandniece, Virginia Woolf. But there was another strand in her life that was…

View original post 41 more words


A post from 2011.

First Night Design

Lucia Whitaker

My great-grandmother, Lucia, was a gently beautiful woman.  I have late Victorian photographs to show me just how charming she was to look at and last week I created an image with her as the centrepiece.  This particular photograph (below), which admittedly stands on its own, was exquisitely hand-tinted.

Being me, however, I wanted to embellish it!  I used my own textures and backgrounds alongside one from The Graphics Fairy and one from Deviant Art.

Lucia died in 1906 when she was in her 40s. There is some mystery about how she died. My mother used to imagine that Lucia had had a riding accident since she found the idea so romantic. I obtained Lucia’s death certificate from Somerset House but the writing is too spidery to transcribe and be certain of the cause.  Her name suggests there was an Italian connection in the family but I…

View original post 238 more words

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