Item Details

Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts

Archives, Manuscripts and Historical Documents

1938 Theatre Pirate Costume Designs


London, 1938. Archive of 64 manuscript pencil drawings and gouache paintings of pirate costumes designed for specific London actors by Ernst Stern, celebrated designer of theatre costume and scenography, pertaining specifically to the musical play with a comedic nautical theme created by playwright Vivien Ellis titled, "The Fleet's Lit Up." These are the finely executed works by an artist of B.J. Simmons & Co. Ltd. after the drawings of Ernst Stern, being the working portfolio of Stern's costumier. Includes 31 pencil drawings with varying amounts of colouring and annotations, made on single leafs measuring approximately 20 x 25 cm, this group contained in the archival portfolio of B.J. Simmons & Co. Ltd., theatrical costumiers who produced the pirate wardrobes for this play; and 33 extra-large watercolour paintings made on leafs measuring approximately 41 x 25 cm and mounted onto green art paper. Annotations include actors' and singers' true names, physical measurements for tailoring costumes, and shoe sizes. A beautifully preserved original theatrical art works. Together with the original programme, with some pencil annotations to the list of actors, by a member of the production team, possibly Stern. 8vo. printed by Stilwell, Derby & Co. Ltd., for the London Hippodrome, where the performance was made, 16 pages including all the ads, original illustrated colour wrappers. The University of Texas, Harry Ransome Center, holds a voluminous archive of hand drawn and painted costume designs from B.J. Simmons & Co. Ltd., featuring the costumier's manuscript copies of designs of Ernst Stern and others, and spanning its entire years of business from 1857 to 1964. Some original renderings by Esrnt Stern are held in the Donald Wolfit Papers, also at Harry Ransome Center, Wolfit being a British Shakespearean actor and theatre manager. Stern's originals are exceedingly scarce.