Contextualizing political satire using the Gallant-ee Show: a guest post by Ian Matzen

Image

Plate associated with article: The Gallant-ee show. from The Magic Lantern, vol. 1, no. 1. November 1, 1822. JJColl: Cinema 1 (9b)

“The Gallant-ee Show”, an article from the periodical The Magic Lantern (Vol. 1, no. 1), and its accompanying aquatint were published in 1822. Together, they illustrate a private magic lantern performance in an upper-class drawing-room, operated by showmen (a projectionist and organ-grinder). In the illustration, the organ grinder stoops below the projected image while the projectionist appears to be describing the image, in keeping with standard magic-lantern show practice. The family is gathered behind the performers, observing the scene of a Chinese emperor and his court. The supplemental article begins by describing the dysfunctional family dynamic and then segues to the father’s capitulation to his family’s entreaty to hire the showmen, who are touting their services outside their home. The article then elaborately recounts the personalities shown in the projection. The characters include the emperor and his harem, statesmen and clergy. In front of the emperor sits a court fool; “he has a soup ladle in his hand, and a chain of sausages round his neck, he is a good-humoured, harmless animal”. Who are these strange characters and how might they be related to the intended consumers of this ephemera?

It immediately struck me as unlikely that the projected image depicted actual Chinese personages. For one, at the time of this publication, little was known about Chinese civilization. Since Lord Macartney’s failed embassy to China in 1793 (Cranmer-Byng, 1957), China remained closed until the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Furthermore, the image and description appear to resemble an English scene more closely than a Chinese one. For example, Qua-li Kurt-hees, the court fool, is wearing Western-looking garments and using a European tool (ladle). Finally, the ‘Chinese’ names associated with characters sounded distinctly English (i.e. Lie-ver-puhl). I soon realised that the names were probably pseudonyms for English statesmen, altered to sound Chinese. Hence, the item is unlikely a caricature of a Chinese court, but rather a satire of 1822 English politics. I have quoted the character names below with their accompanying descriptions. I derived the politician names in square brackets. All but Vansittart were corroborated by the British Museum catalogue entry, which lists the politicians by name (“The Magic Lantern”, n.d.). My interest piqued, I searched for further information about this entertainment.

Dating back to the travelling peep shows of fifteenth-century Europe, raree shows or gallant-ee shows commonly satirised political figures. The online catalogues of the British Museum and the John Johnson Collection online catalogue returned a handful of nineteenth-century satirical prints labelled with these keywords (as in the example below).

John Johnson Collection: Political General folder 1 (49)

In the article, The Magic Lantern seems to have appropriated this type of entertainment to poke fun at the society and politics of its time. According to The Senate House Library in London (“Book of the Month, December 2005, n.d.) , “the [Magic Lantern] journal highlights aspects of society in a satirical fashion.”

The John Johnson Collection copy of The Magic Lantern is rare for several reasons. First, the article and the aquatint (which is hand-coloured) are co-located in our collection, just as they would have been when first published; the tri-fold engraving would have originally been bound in with the article. The British Museum and the Library of Congress each have a copy of the image but lack the accompanying article (“The Magic Lantern”, n.d.; “The Magic Lantern: About This Item”, n.d.). The copies located at these repositories, in contrast, are orphaned from the periodical and therefore lack the original explanation. The print is remarkable for a second reason: the print illustrates three aspects of a lantern show seldom depicted concurrently, namely the projection, the showmen and the audience. This last aspect is important in that it contextualizes the projected slide as designed for performance in an upper middle-class household. One can argue that the performance was designed for private home consumption; the lantern requires a small, enclosed space, while the entertainment’s exhibition relies on serendipity. An inn, for instance, could scarcely accommodate an ad hoc spectacle such as this. Although further evidence is needed, one can surmise that the satire was probably intended for families in the privacy of their home.

This is not just any family, however, but a comically dysfunctional one. As the accompanying text makes clear, this family spends their time tediously bickering over finances.  The father, a penny-pincher, is also anti-Semitic: upon hearing the showman crying his ware outside, he describes his accent as ‘israelitish’, and only after hiding his silver and loose articles does he invite them in. The British Museum has suggested that the head of the household is John Bull, a personification of the United Kingdom (“The Magic Lantern”, n.d.). It would seem that the article’s author is mocking a part of the English society.

This material contains a wealth of content worth exploring. The history and subscribers of The Magic Lantern deserve further study. Certainly an investigation into the publication would reveal clues about the audience the author wished to reach with the satire. Additionally, research into the current events prior to this publication would undoubtedly further contextualise this discussion. Similar illustrations remain undiscovered online and in repositories such as the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera. A cursory search for gallant-ee and raree shows on the Visual Arts Data Service and Google returned several intriguing results.

print showing raree show and sellers of hot muffins, sweet lavender and beau pots

Raree show etc [William Darton]
John Johnson Collection: Trades and Professions 2 (146)

However, the copies I found, while associated with the magic lantern keyword, were not linked with gallant-ee show nor raree show.

This raises interesting questions concerning linking natural language with controlled vocabulary, something of a ‘hot topic’ in information science. A case can be made for an information retrieval system (IRS) to semantically link terms by concept.  For example, entering Gallant-ee show might return semantically linked results associated with peep shows and magic lanterns. Alternatively, others may argue that an IRS should demonstrably link variants to their preferred terms. For example, if a user enters a variant spelling or related term, they would be given the option to re-perform their query using suggested terms from a controlled vocabulary. Without access to a controlled list of terms, how will users know which descriptive words to use in their search? It should be noted that a majority of database administrators post notices on their online catalogue listing the vocabularies that are used. Nevertheless, these announcements are insufficient: many users disregard them or are less likely to spend the required time studying controlled vocabularies before conducting their queries.

Character names (from left to right):

Lie-ver-puhl [Robert Banks Jenkinson Early of Liverpool, with puppet]: “puppet-show-man”, “he moves all the state-puppets, by means of certain secret wires and strings”

Yorge-Hi [King George IV, seated on throne]: Chinese emperor with an “attachment to the fair sex”, “traversed his dominions, and displayed the utmost condescension and affability to even the humblest of his subjects whom chance or business threw in his way”.

Qua-Li Kurt-hees [Sir William Curtis, seated on turtle stool]: “the court-droll”, “shown with soup-ladle in his hand, and a chain of sausages round his neck”, “good-humoured”, “harmless”, “no sense”, “stubborn”

Kahn-hing [George Canning, atop ladder]: “the chief corresponding mandarin”. “Posture-master”. “Descended from the lowest ranks of society (mother having been one of an itinerant corps dramatique), but endowed with an ardent mind and unbounded ambition, he has climbed and wriggled himself through every round of the ladder to the very top…”

Qua-ling-tun [Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington, wearing a sword]: “great war mandarin”. “…Skill and success in battle has rendered him no less formidable to the enemies of his country than to his country itself, and even to the Emperor…”

Van-seit-hart [Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley, facing away from the emperor]: “the mandarin of finance, who manages the imperial revenues; and a devilish clever sleight-of-hand man he has proved himself.”

Seid-moth [Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, the right-most figure]: “That dull heavy-looking thing that you see in the Pantaloon’s dress is Seid-moth, late one of the corresponding mandarins; he, Qua-li Kurt-hees, and Balaam’s ass, would form a remarkably congenial trio, and might mutually exclaim – “We three loggerheads be!”

References:

Book of the Month, December 2005 (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://w01.ull.wf.ulcc.ac.uk/specialcollections/bookofthemonth/2005_12.shtml

Cranmer-Byng, J. L. (1957-58). ‘Lord Macartney’s Embassy to Peking in 1793’. Journal of Oriental Studies. 4(1,2): 117-187.

The Magic Lantern. (n.d.).  Retrieved February 27, 2013, from http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=1488310&partId=1

The Magic Lantern: About This Item. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2013, from http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2006690758/

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Rimmel’s scented world

It is Valentine time again.  In 2010 we mounted a small exhibition called The season for love  in the Proscholium of the Bodleian Library.   Last year, there was an international initiative on Twitter (#loveheritage) led by #AskArchivists to surface valentine collections, which resulted in our little  online gallery of comic valentines.

This year it is a great pleasure to collaborate with the National Valentine Collectors Association to highlight the valentines of Eugène Rimmel (1820–1887).   Also online are the excellent special Rimmel issue of  the Valentine Writer  (newsletter of the National Valentine Collectors Association) by Nancy Rosin, and Malcolm Warrington’s beautiful online Rimmel exhibition.

January-February from Rimmel's 1877 'Topsy Turvy' pocket almanac

From Rimmel’s 1877 Topsy-Turvy pocket almanac. JJ: Beauty Parlour 4 (11b). (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Images: all images are from the John Johnson Collection (JJ) and are copyright Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (and, where indicated) ProQuest. Click to see the large images, but do not reproduce any images without permission.

Rimmel in the John Johnson Collection

While we have 20 boxes and several albums of valentines in the John Johnson Collection, there are very few Rimmel valentines.  However, we hold a wealth of ephemera relating to the varied activities of the firm. Advertisements for perfumes, table fountains,  disinfectors, soaps, Christmas novelties, Easter eggs, fans, etc,  are outside the scope of this blog, but much of this material has been digitised as part of ProQuest’s The John Johnson Collection: an archive of printed ephemera (freely available in the UK through FE, HE, public libraries and schools, and by institutional subscription elsewhere).  I will explore here valentine-related advertising and, more widely, Rimmel’s relationship with the Theatre, whose programmes he used extensively to advertise his valentines and other seasonal merchandise.

Eugene Rimmel trade card

Trade card for Eugène Rimmel [1847-1857]. JJ: Trade Cards 5 (33). (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Eugène Rimmel (1820–1887) came to England from France and, with his father, established a perfumery business in London in 1834.   From 1847 to 1857, he was in Gerrard St, Soho, with a branch in Paris at 19 boulevard de la Gare d’Ivry (now boulevard Vincent Auriol) in the 13th arrondissement. His claim to fame was as ‘sole proprietor of the toilet vinegar’ (an aromatic vinegar used as an emollient).  He already enjoyed the Queen’s patronage.

At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Rimmel attracted much attention for his  ‘Great Exhibition Bouquet’ and his Perfume Fountain, which was also used in the Exhibition of Art and Art-Industry in Dublin (1853) and the New York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (1853–1854).

Rimmel advertisement

Eugene Rimmel advertisement, showing the Fountain of Toilet Vinegar. JJ: Beauty Parlour 4 (14)  (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Rimmel's premises, 1861

Rimmel’s 1861 perfumed almanack, showing his premises at 96 Strand. JJ Beauty Parlour 4 (1*a) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

By 1861, Rimmel had premises at 96 Strand, 24 Cornhill and the Crystal Palace, Sydenham. In Paris, he was now in the more fashionable boulevard des Italiens (one of the grands boulevards) and there was another branch in Berlin. Rimmel’s royal patrons now included Queen Victoria, the King and Queen of Spain and the King of Portugal. He was ‘inventor and patentee of the perfume vaporizer, for balls, soirées, theatres, etc.’

Rimmel's perfume fountain

Rimmel’s 1861 perfumed almanack, showing the perfume fountain

Text re uses of Rimmel's vaporizer from advertisement, 1862

Detail from a Vaporizer advertisement of 1862, listing the prestigious venues in which Rimmel’s vaporizer was used. JJ: Soap 1 (23) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Rimmel used perfume imaginatively, to scent sachet valentines and theatre and concert programmes, including the fine Japanese programmes of the Royal Aquarium (detail below), which were perfumed with E. Rimmel’s Royal Aquarium Bouquet .

 Imprint of Royal Aquarium programme, Nov. 12th, 1887

Imprint of Royal Aquarium programme, 12 November 1887. JJ: Entertainments folder 13 (7) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

At the Haymarket in 1889, Rimmel’s Perdita Bouquet, dedicated to the famous actress Mary Anderson, and other perfumes were sold at the bars.

The Rimmel publicity machine was impressive. We have programmes in the John Johnson Collection from The Adelphi, Avenue Theatre, Canterbury Theatre of Varieties, Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Queen’s Theatre, Royal Alhambra Palace, Royal Aquarium, Royal Globe and Royalty theatres that proclaim they are perfumed by Rimmel.  Undoubtedly, there were others.  It is likely that the programmes (for a far wider range of theatres) that carry his advertisements or which are embossed ‘Rimmel’ were also perfumed. Where there is no statement to that effect we cannot be sure, and the perfume itself has of course long since evaporated!

playbill showing use of Rimmel perfume in performance

Playbill. Theatre Royal, New Adelphi, 29 February 1864. JJ London Playbills Adelphi box 1 (17)
(C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Rimmel’s perfumes were also integrated into his productions, such as Evanion’s An evening of illusions [c. 1871] and  at the Theatre Royal, New Adelphi in February 1864 (left and below)

Detail from New Adelphi playbill

Detail from New Adelphi playbill

and at W.S. Woodin’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

detail from W.S. Woodin playbill

Detail from W.S. Woodin Cabinet of curiosities playbill, [1861?] JJ Entertainments folder 5 (25) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

detail of Drury Lane programme, 24 Oct 1873

Detail from Drury Lane programme, 25 Oct 1873 for Anthony & Cleopatra. JJ London Playbills Drury Lane box 2 (4) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

For Antony & Cleopatra at Drury Lane, a ‘Persian ribbon’ was used to scent the scene

valentine advertising from Astley's programme, Boxing Night [1869]

Back page of Astley’s programme, Boxing Night, [1869]. JJ London Playbills Apollo – Astley’s (69) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

The advantage of theatre programmes and playbills was that they were printed frequently, sometimes daily. They were, therefore, ideal vehicles for seasonal advertising. In our holdings are programmes advertising valentines from 1869 to 1873, and for 1875 to 1880, 1885 and 1887.

Valentine advertisement from Drury Lane Theatre programme, 1879

Advertisement from 1879 Drury Lane programme. JJ: London Playbills Drury Lane box 2 (14) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

This 1879 advertisement on the back page of a Drury Lane programme for The lost letter and Blue Beard shows that valentines were marketed for children.  Rimmel used his countrymen Jules Chéret (more famous for his posters) and Faustin as designers of valentines.

Chéret ran a lithographic printing firm in the rue Brunel in Paris and many of Rimmel’s lithographed advertisements and almanacs carry his imprint.

Detail from back cover of Rimmel almanac, 1874

Detail from back cover of Rimmel almanac, 1874. JJ: Beauty Parlour 4 (9b)
(C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

Although the annual almanacs were beautifully chromolithographed. the advertising pages (which sometimes refer to valentines) were usually modest.advertising page from 1886 comic almanac

Advertising page from Rimmel’s comic almanac pocket-book, 1886. JJ Beauty Parlour 4 (13) (C) Bodleian Library & ProQuest

It was in his magazine inserts that Rimmel could indulge in more fanciful illustration, often again by Chéret.  We have four-page valentine advertisements for 1868, 1869 and 1872-1874, variously printed by Chéret, Stephen Austin (Hertford) and Charles Terry (High Holborn).

Front page of Rimmel's 1867 valentine advertisement

Advertising leaflet for valentines, 1867. Cover (above), inside spread (below), back cover (right). JJ: Stationery 9. (C) Bodleian Library

Insert1867backlow

Insert 1867 openinglow.

Covers of two Rimmel advertising leaflets, 1872 and 1873

Covers of two Rimmel advertising leaflets, 1872 and 1873, showing how Rimmel responded to the preoccupations of his time. JJ: Stationery 9 (C) Bodleian Library

The Manufacture of Valentines. Illustrated London News 14 Feb 1787.

The Manufacture of Valentines. Illustrated London News 14 Feb 1787. JJ Valentines folder (C) Bodleian Library

The Rimmel empire continued to expand, with branches in Brighton, Florence, The Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels and Liège by 1874.

On 14 February 1874, The Illustrated London News showed and described the manufacture of valentines at the printing works of George Meek and the valentine workshop of Eugène Rimmel.

Just in time! In March 1875, a fire totally destroyed Beaufort House, the hub of the valentine side of the business. However, valentines continued to be produced, as evidenced by references to Rimmel’s ‘perfumed valentines, all novel and elegant, in great variety. Detailed list on application’ in a Rimmel advert on the back page of a Royal Princess’s Theatre programme for 28 June 1887, for example.    However, references to Rimmel valentines are fewer and more modest.  The otherwise rich online source for Rimmel research: 19th century UK periodicals (Gale, by subscription) has no results for advertising in magazines beyond 1877.   However, as late as 1888, there are small advertisements for Rimmel valentines in newspapers, such as The Standard and The Morning Post which state that a detailed price list is available on application.  Perhaps the fashion for valentines was declining, perhaps the firm slightly lost heart after the fire, or perhaps the perfume business was more lucrative.   Or perhaps the public had come to associate Rimmel with valentines to such an extent that costly advertising was no longer necessary. The Standard  for 12 February 1887 has a paragraph within its news pages:  ‘The approach of St. Valentine’s-day is signalised, as usual, by the production of a number of graceful and ingenious valentines by Rimmel and Co., including expensive ones, and others which are at once tasteful and not too costly ‘.  Whatever the case, the lace paper, tinsel, gauze, artificial flowers, feathers, scraps, etc. of Rimmel’s elaborate valentines gave pleasure to very many people in the 19th century and continue to do so to those who see them today.

War games: the presentation of war in 20th century board games by Hannah Wills

We are fortunate in the John Johnson Collection to have an intern from the History of Art Faculty. Hannah has been working on the iconographic indexing of the newly-acquired Ballam Collection of games (which will be the subject of a post in the New Year).  She has been particularly intrigued by games created in times of war. She writes: 

‘Dennis Wheatley’s Thrilling New Game Invasion: Attack and Defence by Land, Sea and Air’. This is taken from the front of a box of a board game made in the 1930s, part of the Ballam Collection of board games from the John Johnson Collection that I have been involved in looking at as part of my internship this term. When looking through the games, I noticed a variety of themes, but found the presentation of war one of the most interesting. At first I wondered why people should want to play games that simulated the progression of large-scale war, not only after the atrocities of the ‘War to end all wars’, but particularly in the face of further impending conflict, during the 1930s. Why exactly were such games produced? Let’s take a closer look at two examples from the collection, Invasion, c.1935, and G.H.Q., c.1930s.

Both of these games feature a map, with pieces to be moved like units across the board, with die to govern the distance travelled by pieces each turn. There is no iconography as such present on the boards themselves; players are invited to manoeuvre pieces across the board without any reference to actual fighting. What seems to be offered to the player is the chance to simulate the decision making of military strategists who govern battle from afar. And what does the use of a dice suggest? Obviously it is necessary to input an element of chance into the game to add excitement, but by extension this seems to imply the belief that warfare itself is governed by chance – an interesting notion.

When comparing G.H.Q. and Invasion, it is also interesting to note the different attitudes of the makers towards the inclusion of real places upon the map. Invasion is set in an imaginary continent, although quite clearly a parody of Europe, with countries such as ‘Angleland’, ‘Franken’ and ‘Ruslavia’. Town names are equally satirical, with the ‘Anglelish’(?!) coastal towns labelled ‘Dolittle’ and ‘Waitansea’. Is there an element of irony here? Since the names of the countries and places quite clearly point to England, France, Russia and Germany, it seems implausible to argue that the maker avoided place names in order to anonymise the coming war. It could be that the intention was to put a light-hearted and humorous spin on otherwise perturbing contemporary events.

G.H.Q., by contrast, presents the player with an actual map of Europe, roamed by counters topped with British, Nazi or French flags. It is important to note that the outcome of the war at this point would have yet been unknown. Does this game, and Invasion also, showcase contemporary anxieties about the very real prospect of an enemy invasion and potential defeat? This certainly chimes with the use of die to dictate the outcome of the game; war perhaps seemed an uncertain business, governed more by chance than skill, in which victory could quite easily go either way.

Rules of 1930s game G.H.Q.

Ballam Collection: Games 1930s (4.1)

On the other hand, could games such as these be considered propaganda or morale boosting tools? The level of skill required, Invasion includes rules for a simple or full game, implies that both adults and older children alike could have played. It might have been that the makers sought to alleviate anxiety, or at least reassure; presenting the complex and ambivalent concept of war reduced to the relative simplicity of a game of chance and skill might constitute an attempt at making war seem a more acceptable and untroubled occurrence. Such games might also have fostered a sense of national pride; just as one aims not to lose in a competitive board game, the player is encouraged to fully get behind and support their own country, rather than remaining apathetic. Of course this raises an interesting problem; in a game of G.H.Q., how is it chosen who will control the Nazi flagged counters? And is it the combined aim of everyone else to ensure his defeat?

Whilst such board games at first seem arresting, one might go as far as to say in poor taste, it can be noted that war games are still present even today. Perhaps the best-known modern example is Risk, a world domination game first released in 1957, that has endured through ever more inventive incarnations, such as Star Wars, Napoleon and even the Chronicles of Narnia. However, to find games that base themselves around current conflicts, it is perhaps best to turn to modern video games. The more recent games in the Medal of Honor series (EA Games) feature modern-day warfare against terrorism in the Middle-East, perhaps not too dissimilar to the way in which Invasion and G.H.Q. concern themselves with the conflicts of their own epoch, albeit based around actual first-hand combat rather than distanced strategizing over a map.

This raises an interesting question, what is being done to preserve digital ephemera? Video games have just as much a reason to be catalogued as well as board games; both are items enjoyed only for a short time. Moreover, such video games as discussed here attest the enduring appeal of games that concern themselves with current warfare – a topic that seems far from suited to play and leisure.

2012 in review: WordPress report

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dickens and his world

The new (free) Bodleian exhibition, Dickens and his world, curated by Clive Hurst, is opening tomorrow. It runs from June 2 to October 28. There are lots of ephemera, mostly from the John Johnson Collection. The accompanying book: The curious world of Dickens by Clive Hurst and Violet Moller is full of ephemera too.

As well as items directly related to the novels (playbills of dramatisations, miniature theatre sheets etc), there are many ephemera showing the world Dickens lived in and wrote about, linked by quotations from his works.

Miniature Theatre sheet for Oliver Twist

The Diamond Jubilee approaches

We are working hard to collect as much ephemera relating to the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee as possible. Gill is nobly emailing Oxfordshire town and parish clerks.  We are all scouring tourist offices, racks of brochures and shops for anything and everything Jubilee-related. Gill has three boxes so far, with much more to come.

Little Wittenham Jubilee Beacon Party flyer

All contributions of printed material in hard copy are very welcome. Please send them to: Librarian of the John Johnson Collection, Bodleian Libraries, Osney One Building, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 OEW.  This fine example is reproduced by kind permission of the Earth Trust.

I will be tweeting images from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee all next week: @jjcollephemera.

Exciting news at the Bodleian of the publication online today of Queen Victoria’s diaries, in a collaboration between the Royal Archives and ProQuest. This was announced by HM the Queen. Some of the images in the Timeline are from the John Johnson Collection.

Lottery puffs: a hieroglyphical enigma by Gill Short

The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera has an amazing number of lottery handbills from the 18th and 19th centuries. I have found them endlessly fascinating and love cataloguing them. There are humorous ones; beautiful ones, some coloured and embossed; others with grotesque caricatures or funny little stick figures in strip cartoons telling stories of how lives might be changed with a lottery win.

Mainly because of his popular and ingenious lottery handbills, Thomas Bish of Cornhill and Charing Cross, London, was one of the best known lottery-office keepers of his time, c.1790-1826 (when lotteries were banned). In fact there appear to have been two characters with this name, Thomas Bish the son having taken over the business quite seamlessly from his father. Certainly they were two of a kind, shrewd and successful entrepreneurs who between them built up a network of agents all over the country, but I like to imagine them with a wicked sense of humour taking a childish delight in the silly jingles and verses and the always eye catching images they produced. Every opportunity was taken to promote the name of Bish and their lucky lottery offices. All the high days and holidays, celebrities, royalty and political situations of the day were exploited to ‘big up’ Thomas Bish. Wouldn’t they have loved the pop up adverts of today with sound and vision!

Image

JJ Coll Lotteries vol. 2 (20)

 

 

Their ‘enigmatical handbills.’  so called by John Ashton in his A history of English lotteries  (Leadenhall Press 1893), with their puzzle pictures, word puzzles, hieroglyphics or rebuses were very widely distributed.

This example has the answers provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there are no answers on this bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have solved some of them but we hope you can spare a few minutes to puzzle out the locations of Bish’s agents – no prizes, not even one pipe of wine – we would just love to fill in the gaps.

We have already solved: 1) Cornhill, 3) Berwick, 4) Derby, 5) Edinburgh,  6) Glasgow, 7)  Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 8) Newgate Prison (?), 9) Newcastle. Can you solve no. 2)?

10) Derby, 11) Aberdeen, 13) Cork, 14) Chesterfield, 15) Edinburgh, 18) Norwich

Can you help with nos. 12), 16), 17), 19), 20)?

And finally, nos. 24), 27), and 30) have baffled usDetail of hieroglyphical Lottery bill

21) Norwich, 22) Gloucester, 23) Bristol, 25) Camberwell, 26) Edinburgh, 28) Penzance, 29) Wincanton, 31) York

 

Gill Short, Volunteer Cataloguer