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Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Illustrated London News and Salvation Army Prints

The Illustrated London News (hereafter ILN) devoted many columns and prints or pictures to the work of The Salvation Army in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I have chosen a representative range, including some of the best pieces. Apart from being a fine historical record in their own right, the prints are excellent for framing. The size of the full pages are 11 inches wide and just over 15 inches in height.

One of the earliest prints by the ILN is dated 30 August 1884 and bears the title `7he Salvation Riots at Worthing, Sussex". This half page print is fairly rare in terms of few coming onto the market. Perhaps two reasons account for this. First, the ILN published ever larger numbers of copies as the 1880s and 1890s progressed and so more of the later prints tend to survive. Second, the reverse side of the print is also of historical interest and included a map of the Nile (and this page is itself collectable).

One of the finest prints is a double page reproduction of a picture entitled "'An English Lady-Preacher of the "Salvation Army" in a Swiss Tavern". It was produced in the ILN of 26 March 1887 and on the reverse is a commentary on both the picture itself and the Salvation Army in general. The writer appears to favour the work of the Army, despite their " odd banners and music, the extraordinary phraseology of their mottoes, (and) the uncouth gymnastics of their ritual".

On 3 March 1888, the ILN produced a graphic print entitled "'The "Slum Sisters" Service of the Salvation Army". Eight small pictures fill the page and these include Mrs Captain Webb in the drab clothing of the poor. On the reverse is an article describing the work of the "slum sisters" who labour for the "moral and religious elevation (of the poor)".

"The Salvation Army Exhibition at the Agricultural Hall, Islington" is the caption for a multi-picture view of the Army from other lands and at home. There is even a small group of very contented looking "Salvation Pigs! From the Army's Essex Farm'.

Almost certainly in response to General Booth's "In Darkest England Scheme" of 1890, the ILN over two week carried pictures and articles. On 17 January 1891, details of "The Salvation Army Social Scheme: Sketches In Hanbury Street, Whitechapel' were given in very detailed pictures. On the reverse page is the first part of a lengthy article (with small pictures) by Frank Smith - recently a Commissioner in the Army. On 24 January, the scene is a multi-picture view of `7he Salvation Army Social Scheme: Sketches in the Westminster Shelter, Horseferry Road." Again, on the reverse, Smith writes at length and concludes his article.

Later, on 9 May 1891, the ILN produced a half-page rural scene with the caption "Site of 'General' Booth's projected Home Colony, Hadleigh, near Southend, Essex".

The ILN of 20 February 1892 has two prints on one page. Both celebrate the General's return to England earlier that month after an epic seventh month tour which included India and Australia. The top view shows the General on board his specially chartered steamer entering Southampton from Cherbourg. The bottom view is of a mass welcome for him in Hyde Park. On the reverse is a detailed passage explaining the prints.

In 1904 the Salvation Army organised an International Congress which was attended by Salvationists from around the world. The ILN of 2 July 1904 produced two finely detailed prints. The first shows the General `1eading the hymn ... with uplifted arms". Underneath the caption is a short piece about William Booth having just been received by the King, and his wishes for the future. The second shows "Salvationists From All Climes". Wonderful national costumes are shown including one, apparently from Belgium, where the person could be mistaken for a Ku Klux Klansman!

Three fine full page prints and photographic pictures round off this article. On 4 November 1905, the ILN published a print of General Booth being presented with the Freedom of London. Underneath it states that he is "the first Minister of Religion ever made a Freeman of the City" and goes on to briefly refer to the civic ceremony. On 30 December 1905, a photographic picture with the caption "The Latest Portrait of General Booth" was published, complete with a short paragraph on his work. Finally, a stunning photographic picture appeared on the cover of the ILN for 27 October, 1906. It has the caption `The General Overlooked" and then explains that General Booth is shown dictating to his secretary.

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