Chicago: Shober & Carqueville Litho Co., circa 1890. Envelope or Cover. This illustrated ten-panel postal similitude advertises the touring theatrical production, A Social Session. In nice shape but a little fragile with splits beginning along one fold. About 6” x 15.5” unfolded.
Although the production company for this touring group is not identified, numerous newspaper reviews and advertisements identify it as the “Postage Stamp Company.”
The front panel is designed to look like a postally used advertising envelope for the production: “Coming / The Sparkling Comedy Success / A Social Session / Accompanied by the famous Black Hussar Band / and Magnificent Star Orchestra.” Its faux address reads “U. R. Invited To / A Social Session / For Date See Daily Press.” A faux red postage stamp featuring an overprinted smiling face within the inscription “A Social Session / Come / Come / Laugh / Laugh” is printed in the upper right-hand corner. The faux postmark is from “Amused and Entertained / From 8.2 / 1045 P.M.”
The rear panel is printed to resemble the back of an envelope sealed by a label reading “A Social Session”. It contains four vignettes: a pair of baseball players, a monocled dandy with top hat and walking stick, a young woman carrying a parasol who is surreptitiously eying the dandy, and a creature with hands and feet that appear to be made of straw.
A title-panel reads, “A Social Session / The Sparkling Comedy Success” and includes three illustrations: a sword-bearing actor comforting a rather scantily clad actress, a horrified black-faced rider attempting to halt an equally horrified runaway faux horse, and a man lying dead on the floor.
A second title panel reads, “A Social Session” and features a scene from the play that shows a kneeling American Indian in full headdress pleading to Mephistopheles within a rectangle of fire.
Another shows a barbershop/shoe shine parlor, and
Two panels picture the production’s musicians, the Grand Star Orchestra in concert dress, and “Our Famous Black Hussar Band” with a cameo of the show manager, A. J. Sprague.
There are also three text panels.
One touts the entire production: “This Combination consisting of Comedians, Vocalists, Actors and Musicians, Grand Military Band and Magnificent Star Orchestra is . . . a perfect organization, guaranteed by the highest commendation from unbiased press and critical public whose unqualified praise stamps upon this company the Seal of superiority. . .. Full of fun . . . original situations . . . dramatically told . . . unlimited wit, music, and laughter.”
A second describes the Black Hussar Band and Magnificent Star Orchestra, identifying soloists and announcing parade and concert times, and
A third is devoted to “Press Opinions from Ocean to Ocean.”. Very good. Item #009773
Without a doubt, this is the best postal similitude we have seen, and it is exceptionally scarce. Perhaps the only extant example. At the time of listing, nothing similar for sale in the trade, nor do the Rare Book Hub, Worthpoint, nor the Stamp Auction Network identify any as having been sold at auction. None are listed as institutional holdings by OCLC.