Monday, June 3, 2013

Mr. O'Squat And The Widow Shanks Schlep To London

by Stephen J. Gertz
Published 1822 (titlepage; 1823 imprinted on outer drum plate).

The misadventures of the recently married Mister O'Squat and the Widow Shanks, whose honeymoon journey to London, immortalized in A Trip To Town, a boxwood drum panorama published in 1822 by William Sams, was strewn with comic pratfalls and perils, is the subject of today's episode of The Newlywed Game.

We present the panorama as Exhibit A. It contains twelve hand-colored engraved panels, each introduced with verses as captions.

The prospect of vegetating in the countryside was too much for the couple to bear. They had social and cultural ambitions that could not be satisfied unless they ditched their rustic digs and high-tailed it to London. Fate had other plans for them; Robert Scott's disastrous South Pole expedition had better prospects.

It's one catastrophe after another, and the nearer to London they get the less chance they have of  arriving with their dignity - and derrieres - intact. Their marriage and tendons and ligaments are strained by the trek.

Little is known about A Trip To London's publisher, printer-bookseller William Sams, "Bookseller to his Royal Highness the Duke of York opposite the Palace." OCLC notes over a hundred titles (some duplicates) published by him 1818-1842, From Poetical Rhapsodies to Brian, The Probationer, or The Red Hand.

It pains me to report that shortly after taping this episode of The Newlywed Game Mr O'Squat and the former Widow Shanks' marriage went kaput. She fell into the doleful dumps and withdrew from society, he split the scene and hasn't been seen since, nor, it appears, has the print record of their travails, A Trip To Town. It is not found in Tooley or Abbey, has no copies recorded by OCLC/KVK in institutional holdings worldwide, no copies at auction since ABPC began indexing results in 1923, no copy in the collection of the British Museum, nor is it found in the annals of our sister TV series, Divorce Court. It is an incredibly scarce item, as rare as a Taylor Swift long-term relationship.

Title page.

[PANORAMA]. A Trip to Town. Published by William Sams Bookseller to His Royal Highness, The Duke of York. Opposite the palace St. James Street, London: 1822 (1823 on drum plate).

Drum panorama of twelve hand-colored panels, 310 inches in length when fully unspooled. Drum height: 7 inches. Drum diameter: 2 3/4 inches. The title page measures 3 3/4" (95.25 mm) length x 5 1/4" (133.35 mm) high. With twelve panels all measuring 5 1/4" (133.35 mm) high. The other panels have various lengths. Their measures are: Panel 01: 27 3/4"  (704.85 mm); Panel 02: 28 1/8"  (714.375 mm); Panel 03: 28 3/8"  (720.725 mm); Panel 04: 28" (711.2 mm); Panel 05: 28 1/4"  (717.55 mm); Panel 06: 27 5/8"  (701.675 mm); Panel 07: 28 1/8"  (714.375 mm); Panel 08: 28" (711.2 mm); Panel 09: 28 1/4"  (717.55 mm); Panel 10: 28 1/4"  (717.55 mm); Panel 11: 28" (711.2 mm); Panel 12: 27" (685.8 mm). Each panel is introduced with brief text as extended caption.

Images courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.

Of Related Interest:

Pigmy Revels: Laughter For the Languid, Fun For the Feeble in a Boxwood Drum.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a digital version of the scroll:


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