Peter Parley Promoter: The Prehistory of Product Placement

addedtp

Peter Parley stands center stage, holding up copies of the 1868 Annual for his eager readers. Peter Parley’s Annual: A Christmas and New Year’s Present for Young People. London: Darton and Co., 1868 (Cotsen 70617).

“Christmas Bells and Peter Parley’s Annual have been for many, many years associated in the affections of the rising generation all the world over.  But it is my earnest hope,” declares the avuncular editor, “that my young friends will find amongst the stores of entertainment I have this year provided for them something more durable than  Christmas chimes–something that when the merry cadences of those bells have died away, and the pudding is gone, and the holly is taken down and cast into the fire, will serve to make them a Christmas all the year round.”   And what exactly is Peter Parley’s contribution to the promised Annual feast?   “Every variety of wholesome entertainment” frosted with plenty of knowledge.

But fine words butter no parsnips and a book can’t be judged by its cover.  Does Peter Parley’s Annual for 1868 also contain “things to delight the eye” more than they “gratify the mind,” like its gold-stamped binding decorated with tops, cricket bats, kites, and butterflies?

Among the “things to delight the eye” in the 1868 Annual are  seven color-printed wood-engraved plates, neatly signed “W. Dickes” in the lower right hand corner.  The ones of marine life are particularly nice.

platefacing110

Plate facing p. 110 (Cotsen 70617).

platefacing174

Plate facing p. 174 (Cotsen 70617).

And who took out a full-page illustrated announcement in “Peter Parley’s Annual Advertiser” at the end but William Dickes?  He must have reasoned that if there were an informative advertisement for his full-service business proximate to his fine plates, plenty of papas looking at the book with their children might be inspired to engage the “artist, engraver on wood, lithographer, and oil colour printer” for some venture.

page320

P. 320 in Peter Parley’s Annual Advertiser (Cotsen 70617).

A similar tactic to drum up business was used by another contributor to the 1868 volume.  Eugene Rimmel wrote an article entitled, “Sweet Things at the Paris Exhibition,” but he did not set out to enumerate all the marvelous confections invented for the delight of our palates and the ruin of our teeth” that were arrayed at the World’s Fair–“the lolypops of England, the bonbons of France, the confetti of Italy, the chocolate of Spain, the Lebkuchen of Germany, the biscottes of Belgium, the rahat lakoum of Turkey, the preserved ginger of India, the guava jelly of South America.”   His subject was perfume and one of the marvels described at the Exhibition was a cottage in which “a complete collection of perfumery materials, a still at work, and models of all the implements used in the trade” were on view.

vignette167

P. 167 (Cotsen 70617).

And if M. Rimmel’s readers were unable to visit the cottage in person, they could learn about the sweet olfactory art in his Book of Perfumes, which was one of Christmas novelties that could be purchased at any of three convenient locations in London.

crop315

Detail from p. 315 in Peter Parley’s Annual Advertiser (Cotsen 70617).

The enterprising Mr. John Davies surely would have imitated Dickes and Rimmel, if the contents of the Annual had featured an appropriate selection.  But perhaps it was just as well that there wasn’t…

page342

Is the affecting poem “She never smiles” the work of John Davies, surgeon-dentist, or his brother Maurice, the inventor of Royal Balmoral Tooth Paste? We may never know. P. 342 in Peter Parley’s Annual Advertiser (Cotsen 70617).

 

Curator’s Choice: A Moving Panorama of London Cries

A few weeks ago when reading The Easter Gift published by John Newbery, I ran across the term “shews in boxes.”  Context made it clear that they were nice toys that might be given as a reward to boys or girls for being on their best behavior.   My hunch was that the phrase was a synonym for “peep-shows.”   Certainly that’s the object referred to in Lydia Maria Child’s “The Magician’s Show Box” and Nathaniel’s “Fancy’s Show Box,” both of which were published in the early nineteenth century.  But during the eighteenth century, the term comprised another kind of novelty format–the moving panorama.

The Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest use of “show box” in a newsy letter of September 5, 1748 from Lady Henrietta Luxborough to her good friend William Shenstone the poet.  She wrote, “As to your thought about improving the Show-box, I do not despise it for believing you took it from the thing called London Cries, which children play with.”  Might she have had in mind a toy like the one shown below, where a long engraved strip is wound around rollers inside a box, so that the pictures could be made to scroll past the viewer?  This show box of London street criers been halted at the picture of an itinerant peep-show operator, with his equipment strapped on his back.

12683rareeshow

Cotsen 12683

These  toys were sold by James Kirk, an engraver who was one of the three sons of the medal and gem engraver John Kirk (1701-1761). Newspaper advertisements in the early 1750s indicate that pere Kirk, whose shop was located on the north side of St. Paul’s Church yard, went in with his son James, the proprietor of a toyshop a stone’s throw away, to sell sets of money weights.  James was an enterprising entrepreneur in his own right, issuing tokens with pictures of the shop’s interior one side to promote the premises, which boasted a grotto and waterworks to enhance the shopping experience.  Like many eighteenth-century booksellers, or engravers, Kirk stocked sundries like Woodcock’s sticking plaster, an early type of Bandaid; this elaborate engraved advertisement is pasted down on the rear wrapper of one of his pamphlets of London cries.

153707closingadd

Cotsen 153707

Kirk does not seem to have produced many juveniles, but he had a strategy to keep them fresh over the years.  His London cries has quite a complicated history, which I was able to pull together from a passel of newspaper advertisements, the three Kirk London cries show boxes, and one Kirk pamphlet of London cries in the Cotsen collection.  What it all shows is that James Kirk liked to repackage the same content in three or more formats.

It  began in February 13, 1755 with an advertisement for four engraved prints, each with twelve different street criers redrawn from the celebrated prints of Marcellus Laroon.  The set of prints could be purchased for a shilling or in little three-penny pamphlets, each consisting of one sheet of  criers.  Below are the title page, the criers of green peas, writing ink and pens, and pins from one of the pamphlets in Cotsen.

153707opening

Cotsen 153707

153707plate[1]

Cotsen 153707, leaf [2].

153707plate[9]

Cotsen 153707, leaf [10].

153707plate[10]

Cotsen 153707, leaf [11].

By February 7, 1756, Kirk was advertising the London cries in a new format: “made up in boxes, on Rollers. Very fit to amuse Children and help them forward their learning.”  Notice that he doesn’t call them show boxes or give a price.  In an advertisement the next week, a second show box repackaging a set of illustrated Aesop’s fables pamphlets was offered for sale at eight pence, which is not, relatively speaking, all that dear for what it was.

As detailed as the advertisements are, they don’t tell the whole story.  Examining individual copies reveals some variants the ads don’t mention. Two of Cotsen’s show boxes, 12683 and 30501, have the same sequence of street peddlers, but differ in  small details. The panoramas are printed on two paper stocks:  30501 is printed on faded blue paper, while 12683 is on the more usual ivory.  The illustrations in 12683 are hand-colored.  Booksellers and engravers normally advertise when a title is available in  plain and colored versions, so I wonder if 12683’s missing glass may have been removed at some point (and never replaced) so that  that the strip could be watercolored one image at a time without having to take it out of the box and off the rollers.  The watercolorist was almost certainly no professional.

12683longtailpig

The various pigs the man is selling are not alive, but made of pastry. Cotsen 12683.

I couldn’t find any newspaper advertisements for Cotsen’s third specimen of a Kirk cries moving panorama. It’s hard to tell if it originally had a title page, but there is no doubt that it was produced from another plate, because it is an alphabet illustrated with a completely different set of criers printed on bluish paper.  It’s not in original condition: clumsy repairs on the box cover up the original Dutch gilt paper and flimsy little handles have been substituted for the round knobs on the bottom.  An old manuscript with calculations has been cut up to reattach the left hand edge of the strip to the roller.

425niceyorkshirelemoncakes

Moving panorama of an alphabet of London cries. Cotsen 425.

If only an antiquarian bookseller would quote Cotsen the fourth manifestation of Kirk’s London cries–the “pastime cards”  advertised March 26 1757 nicely colored for  5 shillings a deck, a good deal more than the show boxes…  I’ve not succeeded in finding any reproductions of cards in the cries set, but they would have looked something like the Aesop cards below.

1a802-kirk3

Surely Kirk had to engrave new plates in order to insert the symbols differentiating the court and pips cards, but forty-eight of the fifty-two street criers could have been redrawn from the original set of cries plates.  If the alphabet moving panorama was published by 1757, then there was no need to drawn any new figures (see the addenda at the end for all the peddlers found in the Kirks in Cotsen).

It’s unlikely that James Kirk invented the miniature moving panorama, but the format has had a long life: Cotsen has almost two dozen later examples of this novelty format.  Kirk’s modest little animations of the “moving market” on the streets of London appeared decades before the advent of huge ones that were among the most popular public entertainments of  the  nineteenth century.

Who knows if the inventors of these more elaborate examples were inspired by toys like these?  There’s room for just two favorite examples from the 1800s.  Here’s S. and J. Fuller’s The Grimacer (ca. 1820?) The top strip  moves across the box vertically and the bottom strip horizontally, so that the heads and torsos of the figures can be amusingly mismatched.  You can see the rollers’ knobs on the bottom and the right hand side of the box.

grimacer2

Cotsen 811

grimacer

Cotsen 811.

The second example shows the animals entering Noah’s ark, which the publisher Betts manufactured in a small and a large version (this is the large one).  The strip is contained in a wooden box attached to the underside of the panel and passes through slots on the left and right of the background on its upper side.  To advance the strip, someone must stand behind the entire apparatus and turn the concealed handles.

bettspictorialnoahsark

Addenda: The Peddlers Represented in the Kirk London Cries

The contents of three of the four plates can be reconstructed from the surviving examples.  To save space, only the product, not the cry has been transcribed.

Plate A (Cryes of London pamphlet: Cotsen 153707)

1. green peas, 2. white-heart onions 3. small coal 4. Seville oranges and lemons, 5. ballads, 6. cherries, 7. song birds, 8. eels, 9. ink and writing pens, 10. pins, 11. herrings, 12. almanacs

Plate B (Cryes of London pamphlet: Lilly Library, Indiana University at Bloomington)

1.Waltho Van Clutterbanck 2.potatoes 3.cotton laces 4. Past twelve o’clock 5. brooms 6. matches 7. sweetheart cakes 8. shrimps 9. bellows 10. periwinkles 11. crab 12.???

Plate C (Moving panorama: Cotsen 30501 and 12683)

1.Mutton or eel pie 2. hot gray peas 3. lines 4. raree show 5. gudgeons 6. long tail pig pastries 7. whiting 8. Holloway cheese cake 9. Scotch cloth 10. gingerbread 11. poor prisoner 12. mops

Peddlers in the alphabet moving panorama (Cotsen 425)

  1. AB walnuts 2. CD old clothes 3. EF Italian flowers 4. GH rabbits 5. IJ milk curds and whey 6. KL door mats 7. MN fresh salad 8. OP pickling cucumbers 9. QR Yorkshire lemon cakes 10. ST strawberries 11. UV kitchen stuff 12. YWZX [sic] chairs to mend

In preparing this post, I drew on Sheila O’Connell’s London 1753, British Map Engravers by Laurence Worms and Ashley Bayton-Williams, Karen Beall’s Kaufrufe und Strassenhandler, and Sean Shesgreen’s Images of the Outcast: The Urban Poor in the Cries of London.