The Bath Catalogue

The full catalogue is printed as Part Two of Illustrated Playbills by Derek Forbes, a book distributed to members of the STR in autumn 2002 and available for purchase from the Society by non-members at £14.99 ($30 US). Members may buy further copies at £10.00 ($20 US).

The catalogue is not itself pictorial. It contains written descriptions of over one thousand engravings made available in about 1865 for illustrating posters and playbills. There are about seven hundred effective numbered entries. The majority deal with single engravings. A sizable minority of entries describe multiple engravings. Some of these comprise a few only. Others, like no.407 for “My Poll and My Partner Joe”, list as one numbered entry up to a dozen or more separate woodcuts. Many single entries are collages of more than one scene, exemplified by no.401 for “Mary Clifford” headed ‘One engraving embracing three incidents’.

How to use the catalogue

An abstract of the catalogue will be available shortly. If you need it urgently, please contact . The 700+ entries have been summarised and sorted alphabetically according to the play-title where known. Entries where the title is not given then follow, sorted in alphabetic order of theme or genre derived from the written description of the engraving(s). For this the following designations are introduced: acrobatics; adaptation; American (+ /slavery); animal act; Arctic; ballooning; biblical; burlesque &c.; circus; crime (+ /historical; /Scottish; /Turkish); dance; dog-drama; domestic (+ /crime); emblematic (+ /Shakespearean; /African &c.); equestrian; foreign (+ /French; /oriental &c.); gold rush; gypsy; historical (+ /domestic; /religious &c.); London; magical; maritime; masquerade; military (+ /Turkish &c.); migration; minstrels; mythological; pantomime (+ /circus); portrait; Punch; religious; riverine; rustic; Scottish; snowbound; sporting; supernatural; temperance. These are very rough-and-ready designations somewhat imperfectly accomplished, with much overlapping between, for example, ‘crime’ and ‘historical’, and with its own ambiguities in variants such as ‘Scottish’ and ‘Crime/Scottish’.

Limitations of the abstract

Such an abstract is of limited value without the catalogue itself, but it has the purpose of bearing witness to Bath’s wide range of topics and serves to alert researchers to references to a particular play or genre.

Readers with the full catalogue in hand who explore Bath’s entries for their own purposes might well wish to amend and extend the electronic abstract. The list of summarised descriptions in the abstract is necessarily brief in the extreme. For example, Bath’s entry no.436 appears in the catalogue as follows:

One engraving for the drama of “The Wreck of the Royal George”, 7-in. by 5-in. The open sea; the Royal George sunk, all but the rigging and sails, to which seven seamen and an officer are clinging, some waving their hats for signals of distress; a boat with a female and two men inside, saving some of the crew from a watery grave; also a boat the other side, with two men in it, one throwing out a rope.

Much as this vivid picture deserves to be treated with respect, the one-line compression in the abstract reduces it to ‘436 / Wreck of the Royal George / maritime / Royal George all but sunk’. It is for those who download or rework the abstract to fill out the descriptive field for themselves.


The version of the abstract on this website is available free of charge. There are no restrictions on non-commercial use, save that acknowledgement to Bath’s Catalogue, Illustrated Playbills (2002) and the STR will be expected in any publication or transmission making use of the material for academic purposes. For commercial use in any medium application must be made in advance to the General Editor of Publications, the Society for Theatre Research.