[1842–1917 Combination Bound Volume of Masonic, Musical, and Theatrical Programs and Scrapbook kept by Musician Albert Ritter of Reading, Pennsylvania].
Unusual scrapboook kept by a man; a trove of late Victorian entertainment and social ephemera
For Christmas 1873, musician Albert Ritter of Reading, Pennsylvania was given a scrapbook. He immediately began to fill it with ephemera from the various fraternal and social groups to which he belonged and musical and theatrical entertainments he attended; newspaper clippings too and some handwritten poetry.
He retro-filled it with a few items going back to 1869 (and a few earlier) and carried on with his scrapbooking until his death in 1915. A few more additions were made after his death, likely by his only survivor, his half-sister Ida. Approximately 125 pieces of ephemera and three manuscripts are tipped in or mounted on stubs. The album’s pre-bound-in mounting stubs allow for pamphlet items to be more easily read since they are not fully affixed to the pages. The types of ephemera found herein include programs, theatrical broadsides (trimmed), handbills, newspaper offprints, tickets, separately printed poems, a greeting card, and a circular letter.
Ritter was, according to his tipped-in obituary, a musician, music teacher, and church organist (playing for both Roman Catholics and Lutherans). He belonged many fraternal groups: the Masons, the DeMolay Commandery, Knights Templar, and Rajah Temple. A Civil War veteran of Pennsylvania’s 42nd Infantry Regiment (“Bucktails”), Ritter was a member of the G.A.R. and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. He was also a long-time member of the Junior Fire Company.
The about two dozen examples of color printing in the scrapbook album “pop” in their settings among plainer ephemera, newspaper clippings, and the album’s green leaves. Chromolithographic printing, metallic inks, and fancy typography enliven about 15 musical programs for various Masonic or other fraternal receptions. There are several pieces of ephemera (programs and trimmed broadsides) for Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and other theater venues.
The newspaper clippings in the album include obituary notices (including some for relatives), music concert or play reviews, poems, religious news, etc.
Manuscripts in the album include some poetry including a 4-page poem written by a blind woman, Mary Rhinehart, entitled “Lines Written in memory of Georgie D. Miller, Who died October 7th 1884, In the Seventh year of his age.”
Ephemera from outlying dates include an 1842 printed circular letter (trimmed; apparently complete) from the First Universalist Society in Reading; Ritter’s 1852 report card from the North West Male Grammar School (he was a top ranking student); and a small 1859 handbill for a concert at the Odd Fellow’s Hall in Reading by the Ringgold Cornet Band and the Reading Quartette Club.
Several pieces of fraternal or musical ephemera bear his name in print, including lodge meeting notices, a testimonial he offered to Reading organ builder, Samuel Bohler, and a concert given by the Mozart Musical Union, “Albert Ritter, pianist.”
Unusual scrapboook kept by a man.
Description: [1842–1917 Combination Bound Volume of Masonic, Musical, and Theatrical Programs and Scrapbook kept by Musician Albert Ritter of Reading, Pennsylvania].
[Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, 1842, 1852, 1859, 1869–1917].  leaves. Scrapbook. 8½ x 6¾ inches. Quarter brown leather and marbled boards; gilt rules and title, “Scrap-Book”, on spine; green paper leaves interspersed with mounting stubs. Approx. 125 printed programs, pamphlets, handbills, tickets, etc. tipped or mounted within, plus numerous newspaper clippings and three manuscripts (approx. [5½]pp); the album is full. Spine and all edges and tips rubbed; front hinge starting, lower hinge separating at terminal leaf; otherwise, textblock very good.
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