Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unusual Artifacts: A Silk Program Commemorating the New Empire Theatre, 1896

Birmingham, England (printed)
1896 (printed)
James Upton (printer)
The Victoria and Albert Museum

Click image to enlarge.

In previous years, we've looked at other printed silk programs which were made for important events.  Silk and satin programs were made from the eighteenth century well into the twentieth century to commemorate special theatrical productions such as first nights, gala, commemorative and benefit performances.  By the 1920s, this attractive custom had mostly ceased, and by the 1970s, printed fabric programs were mostly produced for gala opera or ballet performances.  These were typically not printed on silk or satin, but, instead on nylon.

Here, we see, a silk program designed to commemorate the "Grand Opening Night" of the New Empire Theatre on Lime Street, Liverpool, on the 19th December 1896, starring Florrie Harmon as Cinderella; Victor Stevens and Fred Emney as Thisbe and Clorinda, Kate Chard as Prince Felix, and Marie Campbell as Dandini.

The rectangular landscape format program, is printed on both sides and folded into three.  It boasts images from Cinderella in blue ink with the title of production and images of Oscar Barrett and H E Moss printed in sepia ink in roundels.  On the reverse, the cast list and performance details are featured. As was often the case, a decorative fringe graces the top and bottom.

The Victoria & Albert Museum

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