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Fac-simile of the Locomotive Used in Lincoln J. Carter's Great Play The Fast Mail

Fac-simile of the Locomotive Used in Lincoln J. Carter's Great Play The Fast Mail
As early 1840 in Britain, a simulated train was made to appear to move on stage in a farce, "The Railroad Station." Both railroads' and steam locomotives' inherent melodramatic properties captured American imagination from the late 1860s to the early 1900s. Producers devised a number of ways for facsimiles of locomotives to appear on stage. Lincoln J. Carter's "The Fast Mail" made a success on New York and regional stages. It hit the boards in 1889 in Chicago, then moved around the country, capturing audiences even after movies challenged theatrical melodrama. In "The Fast Mail," Carter (1865-1926) used a strip of canvas, about three hundred feet long, winding it from spool to spool in the wings. The engine chimney was a smoke pot, and he attached to the canvas a headlight made to glow with magnesium. Realistic noise came from wire brushes beaten on iron drums, a piece of tubing struck with a mallet, and a real bell. Along the way, he added moving wheels and a dummy brakeman atop a car. This fragment of a promotional giveway or sales item (a perforated section is missing from the bottom) is typical of materials sold in melodrama theaters, vaudeville houses, and tent shows. Sometimes bad candy was attached to items like these. Die-cut paper promotional goods were used by many industries in America at the time. This example illustrates Americans' fascination with trains generally. Technological details including the engine number have not been researched.
Source John Gruber, Madison, Wisconsin
Coverage Spatial, not applicable; Temporal, c. 1890
Rights John Gruber
Date Created c1890
Resource Type
Extent 3-5/8 in. by 12 in
Depicted Railroad
Collection John Gruber Collection
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