ARTICLE BY MW STONE (1934)
The Collector’s Miscellany
THE PLAYS OF HODGSON, 1822-1834
BEFORE I start these random notes I must correct a slip in my previous article, when I stated, somehow or other, that Hodgson commenced publishing in 1811. This was an inexcusable error for which I have been severely taken to task by one of my friends. My sincere apologies for this slip of the pen.
Hodgson started publishing then in 1822, and during the 12 years, (including Hodgson & Co., and Orlando Hodgson) put out about 62 plays and a very large number of theatrical portraits. I venture to rank Hodgson’s productions second only to West’s, but I know at least one authority who does not agree with this estimate.
I base my opinion on the quantity and the high quality both of Hodgson’s plays and portraits, the latter of which are particularly fine. Of the plays, I have “Aladdin” complete, only after much search and trouble, indeed, I found the last sheet I wanted to complete the set only a few days ago. In addition I have “Chevy Chase” practically complete and beautifully done, also most of “Maid and the Magpie,” and one or two others. I have collected more than 100 odd sheets belonging to various other plays, and altogether they are a fine lot which I am glad to possess.
Hodgson’s “Edward the Black Prince” are beautifully drawn. I have a complete set of characters, but, alas, no scenes. This publisher put out several of Shakespeare’s plays, and I have sheets of the “Tempest,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello” and “Richard III.” But Hodgson also published some good old “blood and thunder” plays such as “The Temple of Death” and “Raymond and Agnes” or “The Bleeding Nun.”
Hodgson published the largest size scenes of any produced in England in addition to the smaller sizes. His large sheets measure 11¾” x 14½” (engraved surface) and his scenes for “Richard III” and “Montrose” are wonderfully done. I have a number of these large scenes which I greatly prize. They were originally issued at 3d. each, and considering they are about 100 years old, are in a wonderful state of preservation.
Hodgson’s sheets are just as difficult to come by as West’s. I only know of one place where they can be found (apart from an occasional lot at the auction sales) and I have secured most of what was available and shall probably go back for more. But even at 1/- or 2/- a sheet one can spend quite a sum of money in collecting juvenile drama and theatrical portraits.
Hodgon’s and West’s sheets however, are comparatively common compared with Burtenshaw’s (of whose plates I have only two) and I have never found even a single sheet of Mrs. Hibberd. Both these were very early publishers and are extremely rare. Can anyone tell me where I can find even a single example of this excellent publisher’s work? The explanation is of course that these two publishers only produced a small number of sheets. How many plays they published I do not know. Can anyone tell me?
But to return to Hodgson. Skelt acquired some of his plates, including the large scenes of “The Mountaineers” and some of the smaller size plays were republished by other people who took over the plates. But as far as I am aware, most of the larger scenes have never been reprinted since Hodgson went out of business.
Hodgson’s theatrical portraits are certainly as good as any that I know of, and an immense number were produced, how many probably no one knows. This proves how very popular these sheets once were with our forefathers. No publisher could have gone on year after year putting out fresh sheets unless there was a large and regular demand. Thousands must have been published by Hodgson and his competitors, and yet how few, comparatively speaking, are still in existence.
M. W. STONE
Transcript by Justin Gilbert
See his website at "Penny Dreadfuls"