Issue 10 – 22nd April 2006
Welcome to this the tenth news bulletin for “Hugo’s Toy Theatre”.
2005 was an extremely busy year for me outside of the Toy Theatre World and 2006 hasn’t started much better. However I do intend to spend more time developing these web-pages and over the next few months, you should see some exciting changes.
I have been extremely lucky with the friends I have made in the Toy Theatre World. All have been so kind to let me see their collections and to provide me with copies of some of the rarer sheets. I have now managed to find a copy of nearly every single one of Green’s sheets, albeit with Green’s, Redington’s or Pollock’s imprint. Out of the thousand or so sheets Green created (this includes the multiples used in many different plays) I am only missing a few sheets. These are as follows:-
Waterman Title sheet – It is the Green’s version I am after here and not the version published by B Pollock, which was a very sub-standard rendition.
Wreck Ashore – sheets 4 & 6
Tom Thumb – sheet 4
Sixteen String Jack No.11
No 37, used only in the play “Life of a Soldier”. I have been promise a 3rd generation copy of this set of wings, so I am waiting with baited breath.
Just 7 print in all, so if anyone out there has a copy of any of these I would be delighted to hear from you.
Click here to see the WINGS page, with wing 23 added.
I had wanted to include the playbooks on the play pages too, but in order to make the pages readable on the web-site I would have to use a resolution and file size that would be just too large. Therefore I have started a little printing press for certain playbooks in my possession. If anyone would like to purchase one of these I charge £5 per book plus a small fee to cover P&P.
These are facsimile copies printed in full colour and made into a booklet exactly like the original. Pollock’s playbooks are extremely close to the original in looks and it is hard to tell them apart (except by touch). The JK Green playbooks are much harder to recreate due to their delicate nature, printed on the thinnest of paper, which is now very old, but these too are faithful reproductions.
In general the JK Green playbooks are very rare in comparison to Redington’s and Pollock’s later renditions. The main reason being that the paper that Green used was extremely thin and doesn’t lend itself to the constant thumbing required learning the text of a play in order to give a good performance. Most of the copies I have seen are in relatively poor condition. Interestingly, the copies of both “The Forty Thieves” & “Douglas” that I have acquired were uncut and therefore several pages hadn’t seen the light of day since my great ancestor printed them over 150 years ago. This suggests that the previous owners had kept them for their resale value rather than their content. Sadly for them, and happily for me their investment wasn’t a wise one, as I picked them up extremely cheaply from a small bookshop in USA.
JK Green’s playbooks are also scarce for another reason, in that they were effectively typeset and not engraved on a plate. So once the print run was finished the letters would be removed ready for the next print run of the next page of the playbook. I have yet to see two different editions created by Green of the same playbook. This suggests once a print run was over, there would be no more playbooks. So how did Green gauge the quantity to print. Did he print too many and was left with excess stock or far more likely he printed too few. This appears to be proven by J Redington bringing out his own playbook for “Harlequin Riddle-me-ree”, which the character & scene sheets were only ever produced with Green’s imprint.
Click here to see the new Sales Page.
The Webb Festival, held at Broadstairs, was a wonderful experience and I truly hope something of the kind can be repeated again in future years.
If you haven’t seen my modest write up of the events, then please click here.
I have added a new timeline for the major Publishers. This shows when they were active and their relationship to other Publishers. I hope to add a few examples of each publishers work. Obviously Green, Redington and Pollock are already well covered on this web-site, but I would like to branch out to a limited extent on the other publishers as well. I have already started on their family histories and the logical next step is to illustrate these sections or chapters with the images the relevant publisher created.
Click here to see the Publisher Timeline.
Laurie Webb, a direct descendent of the Webb dynasty, presented his family history findings at the event in Broadstairs in October 2005. He has been kind enough to let me use his findings to update the Publishers family histories on this web-site.
If you would like to receive an e-mail from me after I have updated this web-site, then just click on the link below and say yes. I will send an e-mail to all who say yes after each major update or when I add something a little more exciting.
Sadly, on Thursday 22nd December 2005, George Speaight died at the age of 91. I had only met George on a couple of occasions and he was kind enough to sign my copies of the toy theatre bible, namely his History’s of the Toy Theatre from 1946 and revised in 1969. Without him many people would not have discovered the wonder of the toy theatre and indirectly I too may have not have stumbled across my great ancestor and these web-pages wouldn’t exist.
I was unfortunate not to see George perform live, but a recording of a performance from the 1960’s or perhaps early 1970’s at Coventry University showed me he was the maestro at making two dimensional figures come to life and his voice control made it feel that there was a full cast in the wings reciting their lines perfectly.
He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Brian Green performed at Broadstairs. This was the first and only time I met him, but I truly enjoyed his rendition of the “Maid and the Magpie”, one of the Toy Theatre classics. Brian scaled up the Magpie so that audience could actually see what the thieving bird was up to, a very clever addition to the play.
Another sad loss to the Toy Theatre world.
More news in a few months time.
3x Great Grandson of JK Green.
43 Ely Road