Bridgnorth Institute, Shropshire [ George Grossmith (1847-1912), entertainer and writer, co-author with his brother Weedon Grossmith of 'The Diary of a Nobody' ]
[ Assembly Room, Bridgnorth Institute, Shropshire. ] C. Edkins, Printer and Auctioneer, Bridgnorth. [ c. 1868 ]
Printed in black on one side of a piece of 37.5 x 25 cm. paper. In fair condition, aged and lightly worn, but with some fraying and closed tears at head. A poster laid out in the customary Victorian fashion, with a mixture of types and point sizes. Begins: 'Bridgnorth Institute | Assembly Room. | Postponement of Lecture. | The Committee regret to announce that owing to a prior engagement, made during Mr. Grossmith's absence in Ireland, by that gentleman's agent in London, the "Humorous Lecture on Lecturing," Arranged for the 30th of October, is unavoidably postponed till Friday, November 8th.
'Brock', Derbyshire 'equilibrist', juggler and sword swallower
Letter on his letterhead, Shaws Yard, Kilburn, Derbyshire. 9 March 1969.
The six items in fair condition, lightly aged and worn. The four photographs are all in black and white, and all around 12.5 x 9 cm. They show Brock swallowing and spinning swords, and balancing a microphone stand on his chin. The letter is dated 9 March 1969, and on his red and black letterhead ('New! Novel! Sensational! | Juggling Swords Balancing & Spinning Knives Illuminated Clubs'). It concerns the purchase of 'some old pro Photoes [sic] in JIMMY LYNTONS fit up article'. The pamphlet is a thin 12mo bifolium, with a drawing of Brock doing his act.
'George Franklin | The World's Worst Wizard' [ F. Spence ] and 'original cod prestidigitateur'
On his letterhead, with autograph address Green Gates, 55 Corton Road, Lowestoft [ Suffolk ]. 16 September 1948.
1p., 8vo. In fair condition, aged and creased. The letterhead, in orange and blue, boasts that Franklin is 'The World's Worst Wizard', and is headed 'Too Tuubes [sic] | The original cod prestidigitateur with a new act which is packed with crazy comedy and clean fun'. He asks him to send 'Stevenson Toy Theatre Book', and asks if he has 'any books on Marionette & string Puppets'.
'Brock', Derbyshire 'equilibrist', juggler and sword swallower
Brock's letters on his letterhead, Shaws Yard, Kilburn, Derbyshire. All from 1969. The pamphlets by Hawkins, Printers, Kilburn, Derby.
The collection is in fair condition, lightly aged and worn. Two of Brock's three Typed Letters Signed are addressed to theatre bookseller Barry Duncan. In one of them, written on 18 March 1969, he writes: 'I have been knocking around for 60 years i think i have played every theatre of note and played with some of the best | but i am getting tired with this club stuff you play a diffrent club every night some time you double them in a night un [sic] packing and packing up. | so i am waiting for GALAS one show a day will do me'. The third letter is to 'Jimmy', i.e.
'Jimmy Lynton' [ stage name of Charles Parsons (1887-1970) ], English actor-manager and journalist, grandfather of British , Labour Party prime minister Tony Blair
All correspondence from 20 The Common, Ealing, W5 [ London ]. Between 1956 and 1969. Duncan's letters from London and Southampton.
34 Typed Letters (25 signed) and 14 Typed Cards (6 signed). Most of the 31 signatures 'Jimmy', but a few signed 'Jimmy Lynton' and 'Jimmy L.' The collection in good condition, lightly aged and worn. Long gossippy letters, mainly comprising theatrical reminiscence, often with reference to his regular column in 'The World's Fair, called 'P & Fs'. Also present are 37 carbon copies of letters to Lynton from Duncan, covering the same date range, also filled with theatrical information (Duncan was also a theatre historian and author of a book on the St James' Theatre).
Percy Nash [ Percy Cromwell Nash ] (1869-1958), pioneering British film director and dramatist
Nash's address given on 'Sweet Cinderella" as 2 Bristol Court West | Marine Parade | Brighton'.The other two items without place. None of the three dated.
The four items in fair condition, on lightly aged paper. Typed on rectos only, and with all three attached with brass studs. From the Percy Nash papers. ONE: 'Cinders | A Tabloid Version of a Famous Story' [ retitled in manuscript from 'Cinderella | A Fantasy in Two Parts'. 16pp., 4to. Characters include 'The Baron Orpington . . . A Henpecked Old Bird' and 'Prince Ministroni . . . The Broth of a Boy'. With a few minor manuscript changes. Referred to as 'our Pantomime' in the finale. TWO: 'Sweet Cinderella| The Flower of the Family | Potted by | Percy Nash'. 9pp., 8vo.
Edmund Gwenn [ Teddy Gwenn ] (1877-1959), Oscar-winning English actor; Jan Hurst (c.1890-1967), composer and conductor, and Musical Director to the Brighton Corporation
On letterhead of the Bedford Hotel, Brighton. Undated [between 1929 and 1934].
1p., 12mo. In good condition, on lightly-aged paper. The seven signatures are on top of one another, with the fifth in pencil and the others in ink. They read: 'Teddy Gwenn | [ ditto ] Michael | Lawrence | Sevier | Tommy Shale | Jan Hurst. | Patersen Story'. From the papers of Herman Finck (1872-1939), with whom Jan Hurst was connected. According to one authority: 'In 1929 [Hurst] secured the all year round post of Musical Director to the Brighton Corporation and as such, he was in charge of their Municipal Orchestra.?>
96pp., 8vo. In exercise book, in blue ink with red underlining. With two additional passages on slips of paper pinned onto leaves. Aged and worn, in red card wraps with repaired spine. Nicoll notes an earlier title 'All for Him'. Set in the house of London stockbroker David Carne. Considering the play's popularity in the provinces, its fall into oblivion is surprising. Productions are noted at Southampton (1918-1919, 1930-1931), Oxford (1919), Swansea (1920), Sunderland (1924, the poster announcing: 'J. R. C.
Gracie Fields [ stage name of Grace Stansfield ] (1898-1979), English singer and stage and screen actress [ Cyril Leeston, London photographer; A. T. P. Studios]
The 'Sing As We Go' photograph has the stamp on the reverse of Cyril Leeston, London, and is captioned in pencil '1935 A.T.P. Studios'. The 'Look Up And Laugh' photograph is captioned on reverse 'A.T.P. Studio 1935'.
The two prints are in good condition, with light signs of age and wear. The 'Sing As We Go' (1934) photograph is 24 x 19.5 cm. In pencil on the reverse: 'Gracie Fields | S.G.P 4 | "Sing as we go" 1935 [sic] A.T.P. Studios' and is stamped 'CYRIL LEESTON | LONDON | TELEPHONE 3884 PADDINGTON'. It is a head and shoulders shot of Fields, leaning slightly forwards as she looks straight into the camera, smiling. The 'Look Up And Laugh' (1935) photograph is 25.5 x 19.5 cm. It has in pencil on reverse: 'LL | P.24 | Gracie Fields in "Look up & Laugh" | A.T.P. Studios 1935'.
Frederic Norton [ George Frederic Norton ] (1869-1946), English composer [ Oscar Asche (1871-1936), Australian impresario; 'Chu Chin Chow', hugely-popular 1916 English musical ]
Between 1916 and circa 1966. 'Chu Chin Chow' was a hugely-popular extravaganza based on 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', which, produced and directed by the Australian actor-manager Oscar Asche (1871-1936), premièred in London in 1916, and ran for five years and 2238 performances (more than twice as many as any previous piece), followed by numerous productions and revivals worldwide, as well as two British feature films. The phenomenal success of the piece may be gauged from the fact that it earned Asche alone £200,000.
[Amateur Charity Christmas Concert at Mr. Gibson's Show Room, Eynsford, Kent, 1869; C. Whitely; Miss Borton; T. B. Morrish; Harry Giles; W. & T. Dray; Miss Brice; E. Whomes; Miss Marshall]
Eynsford, Kent. On Wednesday, December 15th, 1869. [E. Clarke, Printer, St. Mary Cray.]
3pp., 12mo. Bifolium, on yellow paper. In good condition, on aged paper, with traces of mount at head of second leaf. The full title reads: 'An Amateur Concert will take place in Mr. Gibson's Show Room, Eynsford, (Kindly lent for the occasion) On Wednesday, December 15th, 1869. | The Proceeds will be expended in the purchase of Coals, to be distributed previous to Christmas, among the poor of the Village.' Nine committee members are named on the first page, with details of tickets (to be 'obtained of any of the Committee, or Mr. T. M. G. Sharwood, Farmingham').
Glasgow: Cameron & Co., Publishers, and sold by all booksellers. [1880s?]
128pp., 12mo. In original wraps, with 11.5 x 7 cm label pasted on cover with coloured illustration of a man performing a magic trick for a group of ladies, beneath the title 'EVENING PASTIMES | OR AMUSEMENTS FOR | HEARTHS AND HOMES'. In fair condition, a tight copy on aged paper, in worn wraps. Ownership stamp of the Sussex ornithologist H. L. F. Guermonprez on front free endpaper.
Edward Clare [The Ethiopian Serenaders; Blackface; Minstrel Show]
'London, Published by R. COCKS & CO. 6, New Burlington Street.' [1840s.]
A loose 8vo leaf, roughly 26.5 x 19.5cm. In fair condition, on aged paper, with the edges strengthened with cream paper strips. The cover is decoratively printed, in a variety of types and point sizes. Priced at two shillings, and stated to be entered at Stationers' Hall. At the foot of the page, in capitals: 'The present arrangement is copyright; and the only correct edition of this beautiful negro melody in which the words are faithfully true to the original story, so popular among the negros [sic] in Alabama.' The reverse carries the beginning of the song, by 'Edwd.
'W. Y.' [Miss Alice Bounds, the Bear Lady; human abnormalities; circus entertainers; fairgrounds]
Willsons, Le'ster [Leicester]. No date. [1910s]
pp., 12mo. Stapled in original pink printed wraps. Cover has drawing of Bounds by Willsons of Leicester, whose slug is in the bottom left-hand corner of the cover. First page has drophead title 'Life of Miss Alice Bounds', and the piece is signed in type at the end by 'W. Y.' It begins: 'I was born in Calcutta, East India, in the year 1877.
Charles Coborn [Charles Whitton McCallum] (1852-1945), Anglo-Scottish musical hall star
Dated by Coborn 28 May 1929. Photo by Laird of Aberdeen.
Black and white studio photograph, postcard format (13 x 8.5 cm). On leaf removed from autograph album. Good, on shiny photographic paper, with margin making dimensions of image 12 x 8 cm, captioned in bottom right-hand corner 'PHOTO | LAIRD | ABERDEEN'. Showing a kindly-looking Coborn seated in country tweeds, with spectacles in hand and paper on his knees. In addition to a facsimile in the bottom-left, the picture has Coborn's genuine dated signature across his chest: 'Charles Coborn | 28/5/29'.
Green printed paper wraps, 40pp. used, 8vo, contents detached and loose, but complete. First page headed Programme followed by (1) Puss in Boots, with brief narrative with dialogue of nine slides, 2.5 pp.
'The Four Comets America's Whirlwind Skaters' [Troy Hoskins; Dolly Hoskins; Pauline Same; Bob Saras; Bonar Colleano; Willy Reichert; roller-skating; variety entertainment]
10 January 1938; Munchen, Austria.
4to, 4 pp. 43 typed lines, and two-line manuscript postscript. Signed in pencil 'Sincerely | Dollie & Troy.', with the name of the troupe typed over this. Text clear and complete on discoloured and creased paper. Chatty and humorous letter. 'By the time you read this letter we will have either left a terrible stench in the Theatre or else the Manager will be satisfied. [...] JANUARY 11, FLASH!!!!
Bebe Daniels [Phyllis Virginia Daniels] (1901-1971), Hollywood actress, and star of the British radio series 'Life With The Lyons' [Rubye Mae Colleano; Ben Lyon (1901-1979)]
Letter One: 24 October ; Queen's Hotel, Leeds. Letter Two: 2 April [no year]; 18 Southwick Street, London.
Both items on 'Bebe' letterheads, and both with signature 'Bebe' incorporating a drawing of a stick figure with hat. Letter One: 12mo, 1 p. Twelve lines. Good, on lightly-aged paper. With addressed envelope. She is sorry they missed one another 'at the station, especially after all the trouble you went through to get there'. Gives news of show: 'Boy, it will be good to get back to town again. | I have enjoyed the tour but as you know travelling nowadays isn't what it used to be, by a long shot.' Letter Two: 8vo, 1 p. 21 lines.
Rena Hall, British variety entertainer [Laddie Cliff and Rena Hall; music hall; Rubye Colleano]
Studio portrait photograph on postcard, captioned 'RENA HALL | MUSICAL SPECIALITIES'. Fair, on lightly-aged paper. Depicts Hall in highland costume with bagpipe under her arm and an accordion on a plinth. Inscribed 'To dear Rubye | In memory of Happy days | Love, Rena | 1937'. 'Laddie Cliff and Rena Hall' performed in front of George V and Queen Mary at the Royal Variety Performance, Coliseum Theatre, London, 1923. From the Colleano Family archives.
Victorian notebook filled with humorous anecdotes [A. S. S. Sidney, Wobaston House, Wolverhampton; nineteenth-century English social history; jokes; humour]
English. Dated between 1866 and 1911.
Quarto (leaf dimensions roughly 19.5 x 15.5 cm). Ruled with twenty-eight lines to the page. Written in a close, neat hand, covering the first ninety-one pages of the notebook. Loosely inserted are twelve pages containing a further thirty stories, on three bifoliums each headed 'Anecdotes &c'. In black-leather half-binding, marbled boards. Good and tight, with text clear and complete on lightly aged paper. Calligraphic design printed on front free endpaper. A charming collection, casting amusing and entertaining light on nineteenth-century English social history.
Max Wall [Maxwell George Lorimer] (1908-1990), English music-hall comedian and actor
Dimensions of paper 23 x 17 cm. White border of 0.25 cm. A little grubby and with slight silvering at base, but overall a very good impression. A striking head and shoulders shot, with a clean shaven young Wall, neatly dressed in evening wear with black bow tie, and wearing a white sailor's hat at an angle, staring straight at the camera, with glossy lips, eyebrows raised and deadpan expression. The words 'Max Wall' printed in bottom left-hand corner. The inscription reads 'To Peggy | Sincere good wishes | [signed] Max Wall | 1932'.
Murray Kash, Canadian-born British actor, announcer and author, compere of the BBC television programmes 'It Pays To Be Ignorant', starring Michael Bentine (1957)
Undated; place not stated.
One page. Dimensions of card roughly three and a half inches by four and a half. Right-hand side and bottom edge of card cropped. 'Autograph of' printed at head, and beneath this 'To Albert Millwa | With very best wi | Murray Kash'. The right-hand edges of the letter 'K' in Kash's name extend rightwards over the rest of the word, and may be very slightly cropped. Upper four lines of biographical cutting laid down at foot. Fragment of printed letter from Millward (and signed by him) requesting the autograph, beneath remains of plastic film on reverse.
['Marie Lloyd', stage name of Matilda Alice Victoria Wood (1870-1922), wife of Percy Charles Courtenay; London music hall]
The Daily Graphic, 19 January 1892.
The cutting consists of the two outer columns of pp.11 and 12, measuring 42 x 15.5 cm, with the article on Marie Lloyd, consisting of forty-four lines of text, covering roughly 12 x 6 cm of the inner column. Good, though a little aged and frayed at extremities, with the article with one small spot covering a word, but with the text entirely legible. First sentence reads 'Percy Courtenay, of 196, Wickham-terrace, Lewisham High-road, was brought up on a warrant before Mr.
Alec Worsley, English puppeteer [puppets; Bridgnorth, Shropshire]
21 February 1950; on notepaper headed 'Mr. Worsley's Puppets', Church Street, Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
One page, quarto. On aged and creased paper. The letterhead, in purple and red, features an illustration of a theatre curtain. He is 'looking forward to receiving a set of Galley Proofs' of Vale's book ('Trust House Story', 1952?). On receipt he will 'make a number of rough sketches for the Wrapper and send them along to you; then if you think any of them are interesting I can produce more finished versions for you to see.'
Dudley Smith (born c.1852), English and Foreign Musical and Dramatic Agent [The Brighton Aquarium; Victorian Circus]
22 March 1883; on ornate letterhead in blue and gold carrying address at 449 Strand, London (as well as addresses in Paris and New York).
One page, quarto. Very good, though slightly aged and creased, and with minor damp staining at foot, affecting bottom three lines including signature. Wilkinson has written to say that he 'has not the space' Smith has 'named'. '[Y]ou express an opinion that Circus business would pay, & I, from my personal knowledge of Brighton & experience therein, feel sure a really good Circus would prove an immense attraction & a paying one, & would stand some time by introducing fresh novelties'.
Flotsam and Jetsam [Bentley Collingwood Hilliam (1890-1965), tenor, and Malcolm McEachern (1883-1945), bass], British Music Hall entertainers of the 1920s, 30s and 40s
Without date or place.
On piece of paper four inches by three and a half, neatly mounted on slightly larger piece of blue paper, docketed 'FLOTSAM & JETSAM | 2 POPULAR ENTERTAINERS'. The crude caricatures (probably by Hilliam rather than McEachern) consist of a crude and highly-stylised image of the heads and shoulders of the two, looking to the left, in hat and cap and both smoking pipes. Beneath is 'Yours very sincerely | [signed] Flotsam and [signed] Jetsam'. Among the duo's recordings is a comic song entitled 'What was the matter with Rachmaninov?' (1927).
Walter W. Robinson, English composer; Theodore Distin (1823-93), English singer; F. C. Wood, 'Lithographical Music Copyist'; the Original Lilian Minstrels; Grafton Hall
The collection is in good condition, with each letter entirely legible. Two items particularly aged, and one with a couple of closed tears unobtrusively repaired with archival tape. Each item bears evidence of the fact that the collection was previously held together with a pin. An interesting sidelight into the musical culture of Victorian London. COPAC only locates one copy (at Cambridge) of Robinson's piece, published by W. Sprague of Westminster in , copied by F. C. Wood, 'words by permission of Messrs. Hopwood & Crew'. All items 12mo.
Leslie George Cole, 'The Great Levante | FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN ILLUSIONIST'
1 October 1954; on letterhead.
Australian magician and escapologist (1892-1978). One page, 8vo. Very good, but with some loss to edge by removal from mount. Letterhead reads 'THIRD WORLD TOUR | The Great Levante | FAMOUS AUSTRALIAN ILLUSIONIST | WITH HIS MAGICAL EXTRAVAGANZA "HOW'S TRICKS" | This Week: [Chelsea Palace, | London.] | Next Week: [Town Hall, | Pontypridd.]' He thanks him for his letter, returns his card, and encloses a photograph as requested.