Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Peter Gilsey Collection of Theatrical Admission Tokens & Medalets, 1671-1888

Summary Information

Abstract

A collection of theatrical admission tokens and medalets for London theaters, 1671-1888, plus one from Ireland and one from the United States.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0485
Bib ID 4079720 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Gilsey, Peter
Title Peter Gilsey Collection of Theatrical Admission Tokens & Medalets, 1671-1888
Physical Description 1 linear feet (1 case)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection may be used by appointment only. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

This collection is located on site.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in one series.

Description

Summary

The bulk of the collection is composed of theatrical admission tokens and medalets for London theaters, 1671-1888. There is one token for the Theatre Royal in Cork, Ireland, circa 1820. The collection also contains a medal, circa 1871, commemorating the American actor Edwin Forrest. These items seem to have been one small component of the New York City real estate developer Peter Gilsey's extensive collection of theatrical memorabilia.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection may be used by appointment only. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

This collection is located on site.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Peter Gilsey Collection of Theatrical Admission Tokens & Medalets; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.

Accruals

Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Peter Gilsey, 1939; transferred from Dramatic Museum, 1974.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Gilsey, Peter. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1939. Accession number--M-1939.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed BRC 03/15/74.

A biographical note and related materials notes were added at the same time the finding aid was converted to EAD. Nothing in the collection was physically rearranged.

Separated Materials

Items 11-37 and 58-77 are missing from the collection.

Revision Description

2020-05-22 PDF finding aid converted to EAD by CLB.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Medals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memorabilia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tickets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Drama Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- England Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- England -- London Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- Great Britain Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- Ireland Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theaters -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theatrical paraphernalia Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tokens Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Peter Gilsey (1848-1901) was a New York City real estate developer and collector of cultural heritage materials in a wide variety of forms, including theatrical ephemera. He died on November 10, 1901, and a large portion of his collection was sold at auction in 1903.

External users and Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at RBML. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at Avery, Starr, and Burke. After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.


Peter Gilsey Collection of Theatrical Admission Tokens & Medalets, 1671-1888



Box 1 Item 1 Theatre Royal, 1671

Face: Laureated portrait of Charles II. Verso inscribed, "Vpper Gallerie 1671." Bronze. 1 inch.

The first Theatre Royal was built in 1660. It was known also as "Vere Street, Clare Market". It burned down after three years and was re-erected. In 1732, it became the famous Covent Garden Theatre. Nell Gwyn played at this theatre when this medalet was issued.


Box 1 Item 2 Queen's Theatre, 1684

Face with bas relief portrait of Maria d'Este with Grecian headdress. Verso inscribed, "For the Pit 1684." Bronze.

The Queen's Theatre was named in honor of the wife of the Duke of York, subsequently James II who was crowned in 1685.


Box 1 Item 3 Theatre Royal First Gallery, 1684

Face with profile medallion of Charles II. Verso inscribed, "For the First Gallerie 1684." Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 4 Queen's Theatre (Bust of Queen Mary), 1684

Face with bas relief portrait of Maria d'Este with Grecian headdress. Verso inscribed, "For the Pit 1684." Bronze. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 5 Theatre Royal, 1684

Face with conjugate profiles by Roettier, of Charles II and Catharine of Braganza. Verso inscribed, "For the First Gallerie 1684". Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.

Charles II married Catharine of Braganza for her huge dowry of £300,000, exclusive of the town of Tangiers and Bombay. She took a keen interest in the arts and financed—ironically—the career of her King's sweetheart Nell Gwyn.


Box 1 Item 6 Admission to King James's Palace, circa 1685-1688

Face with relief profile of King James II. Inscribed "Iacobus II Dei Gratia." Verso, "King James's Palace Admittance Sixpence." Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 7 Theatre Royal Pit, circa 1600-1699

Face with laurel wreath. Verso inscribed "Pit" in between floral branches. Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 8 Theatre Royal Box, circa 1690

Face with laurel wreath. Verso inscribed "Box" between floral branches. Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 9 Duke of Cumberland's Theatre Gallery, 1745

Face with relief profile of William, Duke of Cumberland, by T. Pingo, inscribed "Guilielmus, Dux Cumbriae." Verso inscribed "Gallery." Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.

William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was the second son of George II. The year following the issuance of this medalet, he was in command of the English army at the Battle of Culloden in Scotland. He became known as the "Butcher." Medalet issued in commemoration of the above battle.


Box 1 Item 10 Duke of Cumberland's Theatre Box, 1745

Face with relief profile of William, Duke of Cumberland, by T. Pingo, inscribed "Guilielmus, Dux Cumbriae." Verso inscribed "Box." Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 38 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden "B. [box] P. S. [Prince's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze. 1 3/8 inches.

The old Covent Garden Theatre burned down on September 30, 1808, eight months after it had been rebuilt.


Box 1 Item 39 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden "B. [box] P. S. [Prince's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 40 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden "B. [box] P. S. [Prince's side] 1809." Verso with letter "P." Bronze (had been silvered). 1 5/16 inches.


Box 1 Item 41 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden "B. [box] P. S. [Prince's side] 1809" with piercing at bottom for ribbon. Verso blank. Bronze. 1 5/16 inches.


Box 1 Item 42 Covent Garden Box, 1809

Face inscribed, "New Theatre Covent Garden 1809 Box." Verso with letter "P." Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 43 Theatre Portsmouth, circa 1790-1795

Face inscribed, "Theatre Portsmouth" framed in riband. Verso with, "Mr. Simson. This ticket admits two on the Manager's night." To be worn on chain or ribbon. Silver. 1 1/2 inches.


Box 1 Item 44 Covent Garden Proprietor's Ticket, 1799

Face inscribed, "Covent Garden Theatre 1799." Verso "Proprietor's Ticket Box 181." Bone. 1 1/2 inches.


Box 1 Item 45 Theatre Royal, Haymarket subscriber's ticket, 1805

Face inscribed, "Theatre Royal Haymarket." Verso, "Mr. Dowton 1 Box 4." Ivory. 1 1/2 inches.

"Besides the subscribers, all performers whose salaries are above £6 per week are entitled to (four) ivory tickets for Free Admission of their friends, viz: a double or single order for the Boxes, or two double or single orders for the first Gallery. All performers whose salaries do not amount to £6 per week are totally excluded from any similar privilege." - Ackerman's Microcosm of London, 1808; Vol. I, p. 217.


Box 1 Item 46 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden "B. [box] P. S. [Prince's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 47 Royal Circus Surrey Theatre Pit, circa 1800

Face inscribed, "Royal Circus Surrey Theatre Pit." Verso blank. Bronze. 1 5/16 inches.

This theatre, which began its career as an amphitheatre in 1771, was then known as The Surrey. In 1782, it became the Royal Circus, with only children as performers, the idea being to make it a school for actors. And equine performers were first introduced to the London stage at this theatre. Here too appeared the first canine actors. In fact, two dogs, Geler and Victor, became so popular it was necessary to hold daily receptions so that the public could pet them. For a time, dramatic pieces in which dogs played parts became the rage, and the actors who owned the dogs were called "dog stars." The Royal Circus and Surrey Theatre, Blackfriars Road was erected in 1782 as opposition to Astley's Amphitheatre. The Royal Circus burned down in 1804 and was rebuilt. Not until 1809 was it converted into a regular theatre.


Box 1 Item 48 Drury Lane Theatre Pit, circa 1700-1899

Face inscribed, "Drury Lane Theatre Pit." Verso "352." Bronze. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 49 Royal Circus Surrey Theatre Pit, circa 1805

Face inscribed, "Circus" with a sunburst above and festoon beneath. Verso "Pit" in a laurel wreath. Bronze. 1 1/2 inches.

Mentioned in W. J. Davies and A. W. Waters, "Tickets and Passes of Great Britain and Ireland" as "perhaps not local," meaning London.


Box 1 Item 50 Covent Garden First Gallery, 1809

Face inscribed, "New Theatre Covent Garden First G [Gallery] K. S. [King's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze, green patina. 1 1/4 inches.

The Covent Garden Theatre was built by John Rich and opened December 1732. It was enlarged in 1792 at great cost. Kemble's famous management began in 1802. The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1808 and rebuilt in 1809.


Box 1 Item 51 Covent Garden First Gallery, 1809

Face inscribed, "New Theatre Covent Garden First G [Gallery] K. S. [King's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze, brown patina. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 52 Covent Garden First Gallery, 1809

Face inscribed, "New Theatre Covent Garden First G [Gallery] K. S. [King's side] 1809." Verso blank. Bronze, green patina. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 53 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden P [pit] P.S. [Prince's side]" Verso blank. Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 54 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden P [pit] P.S. [Prince's side]" Verso blank. Lead. 1 1/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 55 Covent Garden, 1809

Face inscribed "New Theatre Covent Garden B [box] P.S. [Prince's side]" Verso blank. Bronze. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 56 Old Price Riots Portrait of Kemble with fools cap, circa 1809

Face inscribed with protrait of John Philip Kemble wearing a foolscap, and surrounded by symbols of folly, and inscribed, "My Head Aitches" "Obstinacy." Verso letters "O.P" and marginal inscriptions "John Bull's Jubilee" and "Clifford forever." Bronze. 1 inch.

This medalet commemorates the Old Price Riots, probably the first of the sitdown strikes. Eight months after the small Covent Garden theatre was destroyed, a large new theatre, modeled after the Temple of Minerva in the Acropolis at Athens, was erected on the same site. John Philip Kemble, the famous actor-manager of the time, announced a raise in prices and the engagement of a foreign actress, Madame Catalani. Evidently the combination was too much for the theatre-going public. On the opening night, when Kemble stepped before the audience to make an address he was saluted with groans, catcalls, hisses and shouts of "Old Prices!" This continued throughout the performance of "Macbeth" and "The Quaker." The Riot Act was read from the stage, and constables and soldiers called in. For sixty-one nights, the riots continued inside and outside the theatre with increasing violence. Men wore the letters "O.P." on their hats and waistcoats, and the ladies wore the O.P. medalets on ribbons and medals. John Bull's Theatre must refer to the New Theatre Covent Garden and the legend "Clifford forever" evidently refers to one Clifford who brought action against Brandon the box-keeper who assaulted his for wearing an O.P. badge in his hat, and won his case. The inscription, "My Head Aitches" is a legend giving one of the rioters' various war cries, really an exclamation of protest made from the stage by the manager, John Philip Kemble, introducing the mispronunciation of such words as, "aches" which he always affected. Hence, "My Head Aitches."


Box 1 Item 57 Anti-Semitic Satirical Medal on occasion of Old Price Riots, circa 1809

Face with a relief profile of Shylock inscribed, "This is the Jew which Shakespeare drew," and beneath "V.P. [Vox Populi] No Private Boxes" and a marginal inscription: "Avarice and titled lust alone we blame, Yet Blush we must for 'tis a nation's shame." Verso, in a laurel wreath: "What d'ye want? (Opening words of John Philip Kemble's speech) O.P.O.B. and D.P.O." [Old Prices - Open Boxes] [Deference to Public Opinion] and a marginal inscription, "The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, And he who lives to please, should please to live." White metal in pinch-beck frame. 1 3/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 78 Free Pass Gravesend Theatre, 1830

Face inscribed, "Theatre Gravesend Free." Verso, "I. Trotter." Alloy. 1 3/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 79 Royal Coburg Theatre, 1818

Face inscribed "R.C.T. PIT 1." Verso blank. Bronze oviform. 1 1/8 inches by 1 5/8 inches.


Box 1 Item 80 Drury Lane Theatre Pit, circa 1818

Face inscribed "DRURY LANE THEATRE PIT." Verso blank. Sheffield Plate. 1 1/2 inches.


Box 1 Item 81 Holborn Theatre Pit, circa 1866

Face "Holborn Theatre Pit." Verso blank. Pierced for ribbon. Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.

The theatre for which this pass was issued was erected in 1866 upon the site of a coach-yard and stables, and was named after the thoroughfare in which it was situated. In 1875 it was renamed "The Mirror," and shortly after, "Duke's." It burned down in 1880. On part of its site stands the First Avenue Hotel.


Box 1 Item 82 Alexandra Theatre (Brass), 1863

Face inscribed "Alexandra Theatre" with arabesques. Verso ornamented. Bronze. 1 1/2 inches.

This theatre is believed to be the one which was built in the gardens of Highbury Barn, in 1865 by Giovanelli, especially for the performance of farces and other light pieces, seems to have had a very brief existence. It disappeared with the gardens in 1871.


Box 1 Item 83 Drury Lane Theatre Her Majesty's Opera, 1873

Face, "Her Majesty's Opera Drury Lane." Verso, "1873 Tuesday Box 46-2." Ivory, octagonal. 1 1/4 inches by 1 7/8 inches.

The burning of Her Majesty's Theatre in 1867 brought the Italian Opera thence to Drury Lane, where seasons were given till 1877.


Box 1 Item 84 Drury Lane Theatre, 1888

Face, with relief of the Victory over the Armada, inscribed "Great Drury Lane Drama." Verso, "1888 The Armada 1588." Marginal inscription, "Augustus Harris's Company Every Evening." Gilded bronze. 1 inch.

Commemorative medalet of the quatro-centennial celebration of the great victory over the Armada, staged by Sir Augustus Harris, famous Victorian impressario.


Box 1 Item 85 Gallery Pass, unidentified, undated

Face with coronet and arms, bearing the Tudor Rose. Sheet iron, stamped. 1 1/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 86 Gallery Pass, unidentified (London), circa 1800

Probably early 19th century. Face inscribed, "Gal." Bronze. 1 1/4 inches.


Box 1 Item [blank] Unmounted, unidentified medal, undated


Box 1 Item 87 Astley's Amphitheatre, 1780

Face inscribed, "General Admission to the Amphitheatre West'r Bridge and Royalty Theatre J. Astley, Proprietor & Manager." Verso, "Rawson Aistabie, Esq." Silver, broad oval. 1 5/8 by 2 1/8 inches.

A riding school was established here in 1768 by Philip Astley. In 1780 it was converted by J. Astley into a covered amphitheatre, reconstructed and called the Royal Grove, in 1786. Destroyed by fire in 1794 and again in 1803. Rebuilt and suffered the same fate in 1841. Dismantled in 1891, was (in 1922) the site of residential flats and business premises.


Box 1 Item 88 Exeter Theatre, 1821

Face, inscribed, "Exeter Theatre, 1821. Admit before the Curtain One of Mr. Paddons Family and Friend For Fifty Years H. H. - I. J. B." Verso, Exeter Hallmarks. Silver, broad oval. 1 3/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches.


Box 1 Item 89 Theatre Royal, Cork, Ireland, circa 1820

Face with lion rampant in cartouche, inscribed, "Libertas" and the legend "Theatre Royal Cork Subscribers Ticket For Two Roger B. Evans, Esq. R. C. Burke, Lessee." Verso blank. Silver gilt. 1 1/4 inches by 2 1/2 inches.

The Theatre Royal, George's Street was built in 1760-1761 on the model of the Crow Street Theatre, Dublin. It stood near the site of the old theatre of 1756 and was burned down in 1840.


Box 1 Item 90 Edwin Forrest commemorative medal, circa 1871

Face with relief profile, inscribed "Edwin Forrest." Verso, with laurel wreath surrounding the following legend: "Born in the City of Philadelphia, Pa. just to Opposers and to friends sincere, March 9th 1806. J. W. Jones", Sculptor, "T. W. Smith & Hartman" New York Founders. Bronze. 3 inches.

Edwin Forrest, (1806-1872) was the earliest American born actor of first rank.

This commemorative medal is believed to be the original medal presented to Edwin Forrest on the occasion of his retirement from the stage.


Box 1 Item 91 Joseph Sheppard Munden commemorative medal, 1799

Face with bust profile in relief, inscribed, "Joseph Sheppard Munden" and signed by "G. Hancock, Sculp." Verso, in a wreath with histrionic emblems, inscribed "English Comedian Exposer of Folly and Dispellor of Spleen, Aged 40, 1799." Marginal inscription, "All that philosophy can teach the mind, to Steer the sinking heart and create a moral life." Bronze. 2 inches.

Joseph Sheppard Munden (1758-1832) was the most celebrated comedian of his day. Played at Covent Garden, the Haymarket, Drury Lane. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, "there are few actors concerning whose appearance, method and merits so much is known". Charles Lamb, Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt and other noted contemporary authors wrote about him.

John Gregory Hancock was a noted medallist and die-sinker of the flatter part of the 18th Century (circa 1775-1815). He lived at Birmingham, England and owes his reputation to his skill as an engraver of tokens. He worked for Matthew Boulton of Soho Mint, and later for P. Kempson, for whom he executed the dies of a series of medals commemorating British victories over the French, the Union with Ireland, George III, and a Statesman of the time, as well as prize-medals, badges, tickets, etc. Nearly all are signed, "Hancock" or "I. J. Hancock" or H. Among artists who produced 18th century tokens his name stands pre-eminent.