|When Michael Diamond retired some sixteen years ago, his lifelong love of the theatre inspired him to begin collecting theatrical posters and associated ephemera. We've just finished keywording Michael's superb collection of over 2000 theatre programmes, poster designs and promotional postcards, most of which date from the late 19th and early 20th century. Not only does his archive record some of the most famous and historically significant stage productions of the past, it's also a visual treat with a variety of bold and colourful designs by some of era's leading commercial artists including John Hassall, William Barribal, E.P. Kinsella, Nerman and Bert Thomas.
There are several examples of posters for the Eastern spectacular Chu Chin Chow, the most popular show of the Great War as well as another crowd-pleaser from that time - The Bing Boys are Here starring George Robey and Alfred Lester. There's a striking design by Will True for An Englishman's Home, written by Guy du Maurier in 1909 at the height of hysteria over a possible German invasion, while the social and sexual questions of the day are tackled in productions such as The Catch of the Season, Through the Divorce Court, Clothes and the Woman, The Dollar Princess and Noel Coward's The Vortex. This delightful collection is completed with portraits of stage stars, London theatres (many long-since demolished) and a number of charming pantomime posters guaranteed to stir festive thoughts.