Gilbert & Sullivan
D'Oyly Carte Pictorial Heralds

This page attempts to record all known examples of the pictorial heralds (small cardboard booklets produced to advertise tour dates) used by the D'Oyly Carte in the twentieth century. Clicking on the thumbnail or character name will open a subsequent page if examples are available for sale at present. Please contact me if you have any heralds not shown below.

The choice of characters appears to have been somewhat arbitrary, with a strange mix of principal and chorus roles represented. In order to make the page more user-friendly, and aid in future identification of each herald, I have assigned a name to each character; please note that the costume designs were not necessarily those intended for each role, and feel free to chip in if you can assign a name with greater accuracy.

In the nineteenth century Richard D'Oyly Carte produced, on rare occasions, colourful advertising heralds for use by the touring companies. Although beyond the strict scope of this page, some examples may be of interest:
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This herald announces on page two (right) the imminent arrival in "your neighbourhood" of one of the two companies touring with Princess Ida in 1884. The cover (left), and remaining pages of adverts, are closely modelled on the Savoy souvenir programme for the piece, although this herald is much reduced in size.

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Another curious herald, this example, with a dancing girl on the front and the Savoy crest on the rear, was used to promote a week of Mikado performances by "C" Company at Woolwich during the week of 10th Dec 1900. These were their final performances before opening in Bradford on 31st December and it was most unusual for this company to perform a single opera during a week, and equally odd for any company to have a two week break at Christmas.
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One of two heralds which just bear the "ancient arms of the Savoy", the early type shown on the left appears to have been issued between at least October 1903 and 1912. The type on the right was probably used from around 1917 until November 1924, or even later.

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The first "character herald" as such featured The Mikado, in the classic pose said to be based on a photo of Federici in the 1885 New York production. He wears the original costume designed by Wilhelm. The herald appears to have been used from 1925 to 1927.

The Mikado
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Charles Ricketts's 1926 costume design for Ko-Ko appeared on card heralds from around 1928. Used on the standard format on and off until c.1952 this is the most frequently found of the character heralds. The same design in monochrome was used for at least one larger format paper heralds in 1954 (see right)

Three more of the Mikado designs were featured on heralds in the next few years. Shown below, the identity of each character is not firmly established. These are in fact probably all chorister costumes:


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Peep & Pitti
Several of the operas were redressed by George Sheringham and Charles Ricketts in the forthcoming years, and in around 1929 more heralds were introduced, showing their designs. Some were used more frequently than others, and occasionally more than one character was issued for a single tour date. A few of the characters appeared on heralds for the American tours of 1934/5 and 1936. Most of these heralds were discontinued by 1939, and after this date the company generally used simple text-only flyers or heralds. However, at least 16 of the covers were reissued for the 1956/57 Princes Theatre season. Here are the remaining recorded characters:

H.M.S. Pinafore:

Buttercup is easy to identify, and the lady with the smart blue hat is Hebe, who appears on one of the hardest of the heralds to find.


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The Pirates of Penzance:

The three principals are again easy to name, but most of the five ladies below are probably choristers, assigned names here merely for ease of identification.

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Pirate King
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Strangely, only Patience herself appears to have been represented on the heralds.

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Only three Iolanthe costume designs are known to have been reproduced on heralds.

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The Gondoliers:

Although Ricketts's Ducal party and Grand Inquisitor are easily identified it is unclear whether the remaining gondoliers and contadine are chorus members or principals. Again, they are assigned names here for ease of identification.

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Don Alhambra
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Special thanks are due to George Low, John Cannon, John McLean & J. Donald Smith, who supplied images and helped enormously with the historical background to these heralds.