“Bill Sikes” Oliver Twist, 1880’s
Size: 38 1/2 x 79 1/2 inches
Artist: Calhoun Print Co. Hartford CT
Inventory # P-481
A colored woodblock poster advertising a theatrical production of Charles Dickens’s famous novel, featuring three vignettes: “Oliver escapes from the sweep,” “Oliver plucks up a spirit,” and “Oliver asks for more.” The first American posters were woodcuts, often very elaborate, and the art of printing from large wooden color blocks was perfected to the exclusion of any thoughts as to the design involved. Calhoun, in operation in the 1870s and 1880s, created a huge number of stock posters for theatrical productions. Using wood blocks made from boxwood trees, they needed three separate blocks for each color (one block per sheet). The original blocks survived through the 1970s, when they were used to reprint the posters, however this poster is an original antique from the 1880’s.