Punch images

Anything relevant

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 22 May 2014, 00:13

But surely the photograph has been posed and shot, and props chosen, to illustrate the story, not to instruct punchmen a century later on the technical details of the age.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby CvdC » 22 May 2014, 03:26

Like you said Chris this is an illustration by a hack illustrator. My guess is the complete illustration ( As seen on ebay) is a combination of two separate photographs. The caption beneath it was probably made up afterwards.
I doubt whether any artist drawing this would have thought to put in a detail such as those foot planks. As was pointed out in another post these were used to stand on for height and to anchor the booth. Any artist would have simply left them out unless they were doggedly tracing a photo in all its detail. And so by chance we do in fact have an instructive illustration for the purposes of this discussion.

The first ever photograph of a Punch booth would have been the daguerreotype taken by Richard Beard for the illustration in the Mayhew interview. This was about 1850 and no longer exists.
By the 1890 s photographs were routinely used as reference for illustrations until the technology of printing photographs was adopted. In fact the book in which the photo taken in Red Lion Square, also on ebay, was published to celebrate the Queen's empire and this new (at that time) technology.

A similar illustration from a photo montage is the one of Weymouth the V&A insist is in Llandudno and also on ebay as it happens. (We're spoilt for choice)
An interesting place to visit is the museum Linley Sambourne House in London. Edward Linley Sambourne was a Punch illustrator and keen photographer. If you do an image search using "Edward Linley Sambourne" you will see examples of photos and illustrations made from them.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 22 May 2014, 10:20

I am quite sure that any artist might have drawn those foot planks even if he had never seen an actual fit-up. It is just the sort of detail he would add. But if he had known what he was doing he might have got them in the right position, but he didn't. I do appreciate that you have what is to me an exaggerated faith in the accuracy of Punch illustrations generally and I have no hope of dissuading you. However if indeed the artist was "doggedly tracing a photo in all its detail" how come in the upper illustration he shows a booth of a height which could only be used for hands-in-front manipulation, and a booth which is all of 18 inches square?
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby CvdC » 22 May 2014, 11:27

The upper illustration is not from a photograph. But I am very sure the lower one is just by how it is drawn.
I agree the planks do seem a bit too far forward but I am quite certain there is no way this image was drawn from life and it is certainly not made up. For the purposes that it was posted I would say it gives a clear and adequate indication of how such a booth would be constructed and carried.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
User avatar
CvdC
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 1032
Joined: 12 Aug 2006, 01:02
Location: Antipodes

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 22 May 2014, 12:08

We'll agree to differ.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby geoff.london » 22 May 2014, 21:11

That's very interesting Chris. Until relatively recently there was a booth on display in the Museum of London. I know also that Waldo Lanchester did at one time have one of the Roselia booths. I remember Joe Beeby say that Pegram's booth was wheeled around using a batten barrow. I have also seen a number of illustrations with the booth carried using a strap over the shoulder. This was how the booth was transported in the Bently version of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' in the 1930s. Jesson advised for that film. G.
User avatar
geoff.london
Big Banger
Big Banger
 
Posts: 204
Joined: 13 Sep 2006, 18:02
Location: London

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 22 May 2014, 23:07

Yes Geoff, as a kid on seaside holidays I saw several portable booths, not dismantled but transported on a sort of axle with wheels. The wheels were not part of the booth you understand, but a separate barrow. Unfortunately I wasn't interested in the booths' structure at that age - I considered the show far more important. I still do!
ImageBert Codman moved his booth between Colwyn Bay and Rhos on a handcart with Toby running ahead. It was stored on the Colwyn Bay pier but he worked two pitches, one near the pier and the other just outside the Cayley Arms. He used to be finishing his show as Eric and I arrived for our lunchtime booze. Bert would finish his show and join us in the public bar. Pubs closed at 3pm in those days. Our matinee was timed to start at 3pm. We usually made it on time.
Bert also had a more portable booth for Church concerts and birthday parties - but it wasn't lazy-tongs - more a bundle of firewood and the dreaded bolts and wing-nuts.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby Nick Jackson » 30 May 2014, 06:43

That's exactly how Richard Codman 1 worked in Llandudno in the 19th century: in the mornings he wheeled the show to its present position by the pier. He then worked his way back down the promenade, to three or four regular pitches, during the day until he was home again. I'm looking at a photo of him as I write this and the wheels of his barrow are clearly visible.
Last edited by Nick Jackson on 31 May 2014, 12:02, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Nick Jackson
Hot Dog
Hot Dog
 
Posts: 364
Joined: 21 Aug 2006, 23:32

Re: Punch images

Postby BilBug » 31 May 2014, 03:06

Going back to my nail comment, I know there are a number drawings, especially by Cruikshank, that show Punch performers wheeling their stage away and such. But as was also commented above, I'm never convinced that illustrations are necessarily totally accurate. Toting those stages around town could be problematic, or maybe not, The stage might have to be taken apart for easier cartage, or in the case of Puccini trying to get it into a tavern. Just wondering. If they did come apart, how long did the wood last. Idle speculation.

On another note, with illustration, I found this Italian stage illustrated from the 1760s really cool and it demonstrates a lot about the construction.


Image

Interestingly, there are two puppeteers plus the fiddler. You can just see the "inside" puppeteer's feet and a corner of his hat. The outside puppeteer has one foot on a support that runs around the bottom portion of the stage. I ended up patterning my stage after this one.
Bil Bug

We're all heroes in our own tale.
User avatar
BilBug
Chipolata
Chipolata
 
Posts: 18
Joined: 11 Aug 2009, 17:31
Location: Minnesota USA

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 31 May 2014, 10:26

Doubtless that fanciful illustration can be used as a design for anyone trying to re-create an C18th Burattini Show.

But sticking to Punch shows, which is our main interest, I am pretty sure that anyone who wanted to make a fit-up intended to be repeatedly assembled and dismantled would not use nails. I am also pretty sure that those fit-ups designed to be dragged round the streets and from town to town were not intended to be frequently dismantled and reassembled. In the main any indoor work would use a different fit-up, one lighter, more portable, probably more tastefully covered, and certainly lower. Remember street booths were designed for a standing audience. There are plenty of illustrations of both indoor and outdoor booths for you to compare.
As for how long the wood lasted, well on average it has been estimated at 47.2333r years, approximately, by which time some splitting, snapping or swelling might be expected to occur. That is if it was of common deal. If it was of English oak it is rather longer, around 792.56 years unless struck by lightning(*).

(*) Punch booths, along with posillions, were particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes in the C19th, especially if employing metal furniture. Benjamin Grant of Hornsea complained of having to replace Punch's nose three times due to " hie's frequent scorchings."
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby geoff.london » 31 May 2014, 19:57

From memory, and I stress this might be a bit vague, I seem to remember that Piccini's booth was got through a window still assembled. It might be in Payne Collier's reminiscences or the Cruikshank recollection.
User avatar
geoff.london
Big Banger
Big Banger
 
Posts: 204
Joined: 13 Sep 2006, 18:02
Location: London

Re: Punch images

Postby Richard Coombs » 01 Jun 2014, 08:43

For the sake of Sport ,I will stick my twopenneth' in over this picture:
Image
I agree with CvdC that it has the look of a drawing that has been transposed from a photograph : the sense of paused reality , the rather jumbled composition and inclusion of shadows would all point that way.

However I can also agree with ChrisS that just because things add up that way , it still might not be so. And also we will never know if the artist slavishly copied only , or embellished on top as well.

But , choosing for a moment to take the drawing at face value:
Yes it seems a narrow frame.
But if you were destined to carry the thing on your shoulders the length and breadth of the UK, I rather suspect you would build it as small and lightweight as possible.
And narrow as it is , the performers shoulders do still fit in between the uprights , albeit with little room to spare.

As to the position of the base boards at the front of the booth , rather than at the middle to rear , where we know the puppeteer would stand - I offer this scenario:
That looks a fairly sturdy wooden box the other chap is carrying. Although it is not quite possible to fully work out its dimensions in relation to the frame , as ( a ) some of it is obscured outside of the pictures edge ( b) the figure carrying it is foreground of the frame , so perspective makes it tricky to judge.
BUT throwing a purely practical eye over the evidence in front of us , if that were my set-up , the wooden box would go on the planks, not the puppeteer .
This would weigh down the Booth in light winds ( anything stronger and I am guessing the men would not perform anyhow , but go to the nearest Pub instead , or find a more sheltered spot )
I would do this even if some of the box stuck out of the front a bit and pushed the bottom of the tilt out at a slight angle.

And here is further thought. What if the box fitted half inside the booth and half out ?
We don't know what is in the box , along with presumably the puppets.
There could be a couple of wooden corner blocks the same height as the frames planks..this would support the front of the box , and let it sit solidly half in and half out the booth ..that way both men would have a place to sit between shows and trudging the streets with all that gear.

The box being all ( or partly ) inside the booths frame would give them somewhere safe to store their few valuables , or heavy outer coats in warmer weather . It would also provide a surface to drop used puppets onto , or store waiting props.
It wouldn't be the most comfortable way of working , but if the Punchmans shins were right up against the back of the box he could still perform. There is enough clearance below the planks for the length of his feet to jut out under the box.

But that is only MY interpretation of what I see in front of me , we will never know if I am right or wrong , just as we will never know for sure if the picture is drawn from a photograph , memory , imagination or a mix of the three.

BUT HERE IS THE RUB......
All this supposition is about one Frame and these two performers.

Go to the Mayfayre when people are setting up, and you will see as many different types of Punch Booth as there are performers.
True maybe a third will have a Lazy Tongs Booth that erects as two levels ; but there is still quite a bit of variation in how even these are constructed.
And while nobody has turned up with a solid booth on wheels or a cart ( only to my knowledge) ...there are still a great number of booths put together not in a Lazy Tongs way.

Back when this illustration was drawn , I am sure no two booths were alike either .
Doubtless you can generalise that most "Street" frames were solid , and had either planks or leather straps at the base which had weight put on them to hold the booth down in the Wind ( either Human weight in terms of the performer , or actual weight in the form of wooden boxes and the punchmans/bottlers belongings )

Then as Now- there is no 100% standard way things are done.
I enjoy looking at all the pictorial evidence , it gives us a glimpse of distant lives that are spookily similar to our own.
But we should be wary of taking any single piece of evidence , however crystal clear it seems , as being the 'norm' for every performer of that time.

Much as I love the Payne Collier / Cruikshank documentation , I also resent it too.
It has set in aspic the idea of what a Punch and Judy show was then and should be now .
Picinis was undeniably a superb how , otherwise he would not have been singled out for all this documentation and drawing.

But his was one show at a time when there were scores and scores of shows on Englands streets.
What a wonderous variety there must have been ! An exciting grab bag of other equally good shows , and mediocre ones , and downright awful ones.

I repeat... "Then as Now"
Best
Richard
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Re: Punch images

Postby Chris » 01 Jun 2014, 11:14

Err.. actually Richard, the booth I was dubious about being too narrow etc was not the one you picture, but this one being erected with a toffee hammer .....
Image

As for the other picture. You and Cvdc may well be right that it is a tracing from a photograph. But I am still very doubtful, and one reason is the pose. It looks like a snapshot taken from a low angle. It freezes a moment in time. But surely there were no snapshots at the time? The photographic exposure was quite a lengthy affair with the camera on a tripod, not low down looking up, and photographs of the period generally look stiff and posed. To me this picture looks artistically composed rather than photographically posed. But, as you say, we can only speculate.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3214
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: Punch images

Postby Richard Coombs » 01 Jun 2014, 15:10

He he ..yes Chris , I see what you mean :)

That bloke has about as much chance of squeezing into that frame as he does of knocking a nail in with that teeny tiny hammer.

Anyhow enough 'considering out navels' ..I have got quite a lot os puppets to get prepared to take away to the States with me to work on while away on a non-Punch job.

Trying to get all the fiddly costume parts made on the sewing machine , so that I can assemble them and hand sew them during 'down time'. All that hand sewing can be done anywhere.

Best to all .
Its a wonderfully sunny Sunday here in the Midlands only wish I was out doing a Show , perfect conditions.
But didn't take any bookings for this weekend as I knew I would be frantic and packing.

Richard
User avatar
Richard Coombs
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 16 Aug 2006, 09:42
Location: Lichfield Staffs UK

Previous

Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron