Monthly Archives: April 2015

Peck Biography

This Peck biography appeared in the Feb. 13, 1886 “Tid-bits”, An Illustrated Weekly for These Times. It was published by the John W. Lovell Company. It is in wraps with humorous stories, puzzles, cartoons, fashion items, etc. In terms of content it is not unlike Peck’s Sun.

This is an interesting contemporaneous biography.

For more information, see Biography.

Peck’s Bad Boy Playbill

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”.

For more information, see Playbills.

Atkinson Comedy Company

In 1884 the Atkinson Comedy Company continued as the only authorized company to produce the Peck’s Bad Boy play. During Atkinson’s production years, a number of different managers ran the company- Charles Atkinson, Atkinson and Gilbert, Rich and Harris, Frank Daly, Dan Daly, Geo. W. Heath, Heath and Farren, Fred P. Wilson, Griffin and Wilson and more.

Here is a letter from the manager, Will J. Banks, of the Atkinson Comedy Company dated May 16th, 1889. He is requesting information about open dates in June to perform the play. Interesting that there is so little lag time between securing the venue and the actual play’s date.

Burdett’s Seriocomic Recitations and Readings

Burdett’s Seriocomic Recitations and Readings edited by James S. Burdett 1894

This 164 page book in wraps contains numerous short vignettes. Some are humorous (like Peck’s contribution) while others are moralistic. Peck’s 3.5 page blurb comes from Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa Chapter 19 “His Pa is “Nishiated”. It originally appeared in Peck’s Sun.

This book was published by the Excelsior Publishing House in New York.

I have seen two different editions of this paperback. The top one is No. 32 in the Excelsior Library and is dated Jan. 15th, 1894. The bottom book has no date and is probably a reprint of the 1894 book.

Both books note “New Edition” on the title page. The earlier edition may have been “A New Collection of Comic Recitations and Humorous Readings” published in 1883 by Roorbach and Company and reprinted by the Excelsior Publishing House. Burdett included a short one page vignette “That Bad Boy Again” from Peck’s Sun in the latter book.

1894 edition

Later edition

Peck’s contribution

Library of Wit and Humor- J. M. Foutz

J. M. Foutz published the 438 page edition before 1901 since it does not have the 1901 R. W. Paton copyright noted on the title page. It is not known whether this edition was earlier or later than the first Thompson and Thomas copy. I have no direct information about this publishing firm but it is interesting that a Thompson and Foutz firm was active in Chicago in the 1890’s. I suspect that this firm was the predecessor to both Thompson and Thomas and J. M. Foultz.

Dan Sully play

In June, 1883 three months after the release of Peck’s Bad Boy and His Father, while Pidgin and Peck were planning their Peck’s Bad Boy play, Dan Sully (1855-1910) produced a play called Peck’s Bad Boy and His Father. Peck got an injunction in Providence, Rhode Island stopping Sully. Subsequently in 1884 Sully changed some content, adapted parts of an English play called The Chimney Corner and then changed the name of his play to “Our Corner Grocery” (later The Corner Grocery). This new three (and later four) act play ran for a number of years at similar venues as the authorized Peck’s Bad Boy play. Despite the injunction this play had a number of similarities to the Peck’s Bad Boy stories / play. Interestingly Sully’s play toured for a number of years and in 1901 the main character was played by Dot Karroll who had previously portrayed the “Bad Boy” in Peck’s Bad Boy.

Here are trade cards advertising Sully’s play.

Unauthorized Theatre Productions

Another pirate active in Illinois in the late 1880’s was Matt Kurell. Kurell actually advertised that he was an authorized producer. Obviously he was not as is pointed out in this newspaper clipping. A trade magazine went so far as to say that laws should be passed so sneaks like Matt Kusell should be put in state prison.