Finding playbills for 19th
century theatre presentations can be difficult. I suppose because these
items are generally very fragile, not that many have survived in
Here are some examples. Determining the dates of some of these is an
July, 1884 Oakland Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Note that the managers were Rich and Harris. As noted above these men
were later sued by Peck and Atkinson. After they were no longer
associated with Atkinson's Comedy Company, they attempted to produce
their own unauthorized play.
October 10-11, 1884 - New Haven Opera House
This playbill consists of four sides. Shown here is the front and the
back. Of great interest is the documentation here of Peck's constant
fight against the piracy of his work. Note on the back page the
"WARNING" regarding authenticity. In particular on the back page Dan
Sully is specifically mentioned as a pirate.
This flyer describes an authorized production.
1880's-Grand Opera House
This is an Atkinson production and thus authorized.
1890's Unauthorized play
Here is a playbill from a play produced by Charles Hassenforder. He was
active in the theatre in the 1890's. I have been unable to determine
the exact site and date of this play.
It was probably not authorized by George W. Peck since neither Peck's
name nor the name of the Atkinson Comedy Company appear on this little
It is 8.5 x 4.
1890's- Authorized play- Unknown location
This playbill is for a George W. Heath play.
Famous Peck performers, Willie McDermott and Fred Wenzel star.
January 10, 1895 - Boonville Opera House
This playbill moves into George W. Heath era.
Playbill - March, 1896
Here is another authorized play produced by the Atkinson Comedy
Company. Two of the more well performers, Dot Karroll and Fred Wenzel
were in lead roles.
Flyer- October 15, 1898 - Theatre Saratoga
This program is from Theatre Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The advertisements of local establishments surround the information on
the play. It is unclear whether this play was authorized but because
Atkinson Comedy Co. is not mentioned, it probably was not.
April 28, 1902 - Third Avenue Family Theatre
Dixon's Third Avenue Family Theatre was located in New York City.
Joe Madison along with Fred Wenzel starred in this play in the
early 1900's. Wenzel had been the Groceryman in earlier plays as well.
April 28th was a Monday in 1902 and thus is the most likely year for
the play advertised below.
There is no mention of authorized producers on the playbill. I suspect that this was an unauthorized production.
November 11, 1904 - Lewisburg Opera House
This one page sheet (6.5 x 5.25) notes the play will be performed at
the Lewisburg Opera House on November 11, 1904. This facility in
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania was the site of a Peck's Bad Boy annual
production for several years at the turn of the century.
Since no production company is mentioned on the flyer, it is most
likely that this play was not authorized by Peck. In addition, the
musical numbers noted on the flyer are not done in the authorized
The Lewisburg Opera House was built in 1869. It burnt down in 1908.
Approximate date 1888-1890
This play was produced by an unauthorized producer. I believe the
manager's name is actually Kusell not Kurell.
Chas. Guinness was an unauthorized producer of this play. This playbill
was printed in 1885 for a production in Milford, New Hampshire.
The three acts noted are different from the three acts of the
authorized play written by Pidgin. The New York Mirror stated that
"Guinness is presenting a garbled version of Peck's Bad Boy in the
smaller New England towns. In December, 1886 Guinness produced a
take-off of the Peck's Bad Boy play called "Fun in a Grocery Store".