ARTICLE BY E PERCIVAL (1932)
The Collector’s Miscellany
No.1 Nov-Dec 1932
PLAYS IN PACKETS.
A CORRESPONDENT in your last issue enquired about the plays that were produced and sold in ½d. and 1d. packets some thirty years ago. Well I have many of them in my own collection. They were published by a firm called Andrews and Co., of Old Street under the title of the “Champion Series.” The firm has been long extinct. They consisted of reproductions and abridgements of the plays of Parks and Skelt, and were printed on one large sheet, the book of words being sold separately, being written to embrace the number of sheets printed on the large one, for none were actually complete.
For instance the “Miller & His Men” consisted of three sheets at 1½d. of Parks’ 1d. “Miller,” with a few odd scenes, but the characters were well drawn, because Parks 1d. “Miller” (8 sheets of characters) was about the best set of this popular play ever produced. I think I have either 15 or 16 sets of this play and Parks’ characters were as large and well produced as any, being engraved on copper. Andrews’ were of course stereotyped.
Other plays in the “Champion Series” were:—
“Captain Ross and his Search for the North Pole” (two packets); taken from Skelt’s “Captain Ross,” “George Barnwell,” also taken from Skelt, “On the Stroke of One,” “Boys in Blue,” “The Pantomime Packet” taken from Skelt’s “Tom Tucker,” “The Dumb Boy and His Monkey,” and “Walter Brand and The Outlaw’s Revenge,” two packets from Skelt’s. There were others of course.
The ½d. packets were lithographic reproductions of various publishers issued by Clark, but they were shocking affairs, the reproductions being like blobs of ink. The book of words in the case of ½d. packets was printed on slips of paper and enclosed in the packet, the whole for a ½d. Both publishers are now gone. One of the halfpenny series, the play of “The Black Pirate,” is illustrated herewith.
Transcript by Justin Gilbert
See his website at "Penny Dreadfuls"