Item #6497 Parsons & Pool’s Famous Ideal Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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Parsons & Pool’s Famous Ideal Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

New York: Parsons & Pool’s., [ca. 1885]. Crane Co., engravers. Illustrated broadside on linen, 13.5” x 11” overall, wood-engraving, 5” x 8”. CONDITION: Very good, light stains.

A scarce advertising broadside for one of the more notable theater companies producing Uncle Tom’s Cabin in the late-nineteenth century.

Dramatizations of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel began in 1852, the year of publication, and from the beginning included elements of blackface minstrelsy—a well established form of stage entertainment by that time. The Parsons & Pool’s performances featured the Tennessee Jubilee Singers of Fisk University (who are credited with popularizing jubilee singing), substituting a more dignified style of singing for the parody of blackface performers. The company toured in the New England and Mid-Atlantic area in the 1880s and 1890s.

The wood-engraving, a variation on one of Hammatt Billings’s illustrations for the first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, depicts Eva reading the Bible to Uncle Tom in front of his cabin, while a woman, likely Tom’s wife Aunt Chloe, looks on from a doorway behind the two figures. According to Billings’s biographer James OGorman, “Little Eva reading the Bible to Uncle Tom in the arbor” was “without doubt the most important image of the first edition.” At the time the novel was published, there was no visual precedent for an adult black man sharing an intimate moment with a small white girl, alone and out in nature. Seen outside the context of the book, Tom and Eva in the arbor would likely have been an arresting sight. Of all Billings’s scenes for the book, this one proved the most captivating and it was reproduced, both as Billings designed it and in numerous variations, on broadsides, sheet music, and other ephemera.

OCLC records one copy, at Brown University.

REFERENCES: Morgan, Jo-Ann. Illustrating Uncle Tom's Cabin at

Item #6497


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