Issue 12 – July 2007
Welcome to the twelfth news bulletin for “Hugo’s Toy Theatre”.
As usual I have been extremely busy at work, but I have managed to find a small amount of time to dedicate to the Toy Theatre.
I visited the Print Room of the British Museum for the first time. There I saw the Thomas Collection and especially the IK Green prints within it. There was the first proscenium of 1st January 1812 and a few prints dated in 1811. These very early items had the sales outlet listed as W. West of Exeter Street. This showed that Green and West worked together at the time of the birth of the Toy Theatre. What caused them to separate? Was there a row? Did Green expect more from West, in terms of the credit of the invention of Juvenile Prints? Was Green not good enough for West? Whatever the reason Green took up with H Burtenshaw and B Perkins. He used these two print-sellers separately and jointly, but the pattern seems quite haphazard. There are two prints with the same imprint date in the same “Horse” series, but each with a sole, but different, agent. Both before and after these “Horse” prints Burtenshaw & Perkins were listed as co-sellers. Perhaps there was competetion for Green’s works and he only released prints to the highest bidder or more likely Burtenshaw and Perkins only wanted a limited supply from Green and I suspect Green had to work hard to sell even these prints to his potential agents.
I would love to show copies here, but unfortunately the British Museum only release images under licence and the reproduction fees are quite prohibitive.
The Thomas Collection (No. 168*) is a wonderful collection of old volumes containing a vast array of early Toy Theatre prints. If you are in the vicinity and have a couple of hours to spare, I highly recommend a visit. The Print Room is open most weekdays for 3 hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the afternoon. Check the times, before you go, on their web-site at:-
If you do go, please remember to some form of identification, otherwise they will not let you in.
With the kind assistance of Trevor Griffin, I managed to view the Frank Bradley collection housed in the Pickford Museum archive. It was a fine collection, with a small collection of Green’s sheets. Probably the most interesting item was the original W West print of the first Juvenile Theatrical Print, mention in the his interview with Mayhew in 1850. It was believed that Green carried out the engraving of this plate. Furthermore when we look at the character in the top right “Zany” we can see a great similarity with the same character that appears on Green’s Punch & Judy disc of 1810-11. If nothing else we can see they we derived from the same original as the pose etc, is exactly the same. Both images can be seen in Chapter 2 of the History.
The Frank Bradley collection is viewable by appointment only.
Two new pages have been added to the History Section.
Appendix 8 – The playbooks (a short history of Green’s playbooks)
Appendix 9 – The frontispieces (a short history of Green’s frontispieces used in the Playbooks, together with a list of what has survived)
My printing press has been busy and I now have 8 plays for sale.
Whittington & His Cat
The Miller & His Men
The Battle of Waterloo
The Corsican Brothers
The Daughter of the Regiment
The Lord Mayor’s Fool
Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
Next on the production line is Cinderella.
All are available in Pollock’s Tuppence Coloured reprinted in full colour on 170gsm Parchment Card. They are packed in an envelope and accompanied by a facsimile of the Book of Words. I can now also produce these on plain card and as a result these are slightly cheaper.
With each play, I have added a short history surrounding the play. It has been fascinating to research these plays. I didn’t know how horrid Sleeping Beauty was in its early forms; that April Fool’s Day originated from the change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582 and that the Battle of Waterloo was really three battles merged into one.
For a full list of items for sale and their prices go to “Hugo’s Print Press” page on this web-site.
I try to keep the “links” page up to date, but two changes have occurred of late which maybe of interest. Firstly Robert Poulter has unveiled his own web-site, which is well worth a visit and secondly the “Silver Palace” production by the Osborne Collection has reappeared in a different location. I thought we had lost this forever, but I stumbled across this new link it purely by chance.
Plans are afoot to bring about “Greens Toy Theatre Festival” to celebrate Green’s 200th anniversary of starting in business. This is expected to take place in the autumn of 2008, with a festival of events and displays. It is hoped to have all the leading protagonists, who will each be there to perform one of Green’s plays. There will be an exhibition of Green’s works and much more. We are actively searching for a London venue.
More news in a few months time.
Great Great Great Grandson of JK Green.
43 Ely Road