Item #28816 Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918. Sarah Burgess, printer.
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918
Gorgeous collection by the itinerant printer and suffragist Sarah Burgess
Sarah Burgess [printer]

Collection of Forty-Three Crepe Paper Napkin Souvenirs, 1902-1918

London: Sarah Burgess, 1902. Very Good+. Item #28816

London: v.p., chiefly Sarah Burgess, 1902-1918. Collection of forty-three (43) pictorial broadside napkin souvenirs printed on crepe paper (38x37cm), housed in modern custom cloth clamshell box; nearly all bear pictorial elements and are printed within decorative color borders. Just one example significantly foxed and dampstained, just one example with closed tear affecting border, else nearly all in Near Fine condition with just occasional light foxing and toning to paper. Complete inventory of the collection available upon request.

Substantial and remarkably well-preserved collection of souvenir napkins of which the majority (thirty-three examples) bear the imprint of Sarah Burgess. The napkins were printed at an impressive clip to commemorate significant occasions, from the coronations of Edward VII and George V, to the King and Queen's annual opening of Parliament, and the state visits of French Presidents Loubet and Poincaré, the King and Queen of Italy, and the King and Queen of Denmark. Other napkins commemorate major events during the Great War, from the liberation of Belgium to the United States' joining in 1917.

Highlights include the napkin printed shortly after the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, adorned with a woodcut of the ship, printed "in Affectionate Remembrance of the Captain, Mates, Crew, and Passengers Who Lost Their Lives By the Foundering of the World’s Biggest Liner S.S. Titanic."

Sarah Burgess evidently also paid close attention to British women's suffrage, three of the napkins with her imprint in this collection relating to the Movement. These include a souvenir napkin for the "Great Law-Abiding Women’s Suffrage Pilgrimage" and a funeral napkin commemorating the death of Miss Emily Wilding Davison, "the First Martyr to Give Her Life in the Cause of the 'Women’s Vote.'" Another napkin, simply titled "Votes for Women Souvenir & Official Programme," is adorned with a record fourteen portrait vignettes of women imprisoned for their work in the cause, including Annie Kenney, Adela Pankhurst, and Georgina Brackenbury.

Sarah Burgess appears to have only printed her own souvenir napkins for a short period of time between around 1908 and 1918. These were sold first out of her shop at Bishopsgate and later the Strand, where she operated until the end of World War II. A cheerful newspaper article from 1938, published when Burgess (a.k.a. "Auntie") was seventy-four years old, describes her "swag shop" Of Alley as the "recognised centre for the street traders and the costers of London to buy their wares."

Evidently Burgess had begun her career fifty years earlier printing souvenir napkins to be sold by itinerant street peddlers, her name "known on kerbsides all over Britain." The 1938 article portrays a generous and indispensable woman in her small community operating on the fringes of commerce. The piece concludes with her quote: "You have to let them have a little cash on account now and then. They are good lads. They always pay me back."

Reference: Dudley Barker's "This Is Where London's Costers Buy the Things They Sell" (in the "Evening Standard," August 1, 1938).

Price: $15,000.00