Bristol Old Vic Pledges to Honour Historic Free-Ticket Token Auctionbristololdvic,free-tickettokenauction,historic,honour
Bristol Old Vic Pledges to Honour Historic Free-Ticket Token Auction

Bristol Old Vic Pledges to Honour Historic Free-Ticket Token Auction

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A Rare Piece of Theatre History

The Bristol Old Vic, originally known as the Theatre Royal, has made a remarkable commitment to honour a centuries-old policy by providing free tickets to the new owner of a silver token dating back to 1766. This silver ticket, numbered 35, was one of only 50 tokens minted for the original shareholders of the theatre, entitling them to attend every performance. As the token heads to auction, it is expected to fetch between £1,500 and £2,500.

A Testament to Bristol’s Rich Theatrical Heritage

The Bristol Old Vic, constructed on King Street between 1764 and 1766, opened its doors on May 30th, 1766. The silver token, inscribed with the words “The proprietor of this ticket is entitled to the sight of every performance to be exhibited in this house” and “King Street, Bristol Theatre / May 30, 1766” on the reverse, serves as a tangible link to this historic moment in time.

These original shareholders, known as proprietors, each raised a considerable sum of £50 in the 18th century to finance the construction of the theatre. Their reward was a silver token that would grant them access to all future performances. Only 20 of these coins are believed to have survived, with only a handful ever appearing at auction.

A Promise of Historical Significance

The Bristol Old Vic, with its commitment to upholding tradition, has affirmed its intention to follow through with its policy of providing free tickets to the owner of this rare artifact, should it be deemed authentic. The auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son, has expressed confidence in the token’s authenticity and its historical value as an important piece of local history. It is believed that over the years, these silver tokens changed hands, were lost, found, forged, and even sold, but the theatre’s extensive records at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection have helped trace the origins of some of the coins.

A Story of Ownership and Legacy

The historical journey of ticket No 35 can be traced back to its original recipient, William Jones, in 1766. By 1815, the coin had come into the possession of John Wadham, a prominent Bristol blue glassmaker. Wadham was the owner of Frenchay Manor and a director of the Bristol Floating Harbour Company. The token then passed down to Wadham’s son, Thomas, who later became High Sheriff of Bristol and founded Winterbourne school. Other noteworthy silver ticket owners included the Smyth family of Ashton Court.

The Significance of Theatre Tokens

Theatre tokens, such as the silver token from Bristol Old Vic, hold a special place in the hearts of theatre enthusiasts. They represent a tangible connection to the past, a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of performing arts. For centuries, theatre has played a vital role in society, and these tokens serve as a symbol of the enduring human desire for artistic expression and storytelling.

Fostering a Culture of Appreciation for Theatre

The decision by Bristol Old Vic to honour the policy tied to these historic tokens is commendable. It not only upholds the theatre’s long-standing commitment to its stakeholders but also fosters a culture of appreciation for the performing arts.

Preserving Heritage and Engaging New Audiences

By recognizing the significance of their past and embracing it in the present, the Bristol Old Vic not only preserves its rich heritage but also engages new audiences. The opportunity to witness a performance at one of the oldest continuously operating theatres in the English-speaking world will undoubtedly attract attention and generate interest in both the history and the vibrant contemporary productions hosted by the Bristol Old Vic.

Advice for Potential Buyers

For those considering bidding on this rare silver token, it is important to recognize the historical value and the unique experience it represents. Owning a piece of theatre history provides an opportunity to connect with the past while also supporting the preservation of cultural heritage. Moreover, with the assurance from the Bristol Old Vic that they will honour the token’s policy, the free tickets can be seen as an invaluable added benefit.

However, it is crucial to approach the auction with careful consideration. Prospective buyers should thoroughly research the authenticity of the token and consult experts in the field to ensure its legitimacy. Additionally, understanding the responsibilities that come with owning such a piece of history is important, as it may require proper preservation and protection to safeguard its value for future generations.

In Conclusion

The sale of the silver token from the Bristol Old Vic offers a rare opportunity to own a piece of theatre history. With its commitment to honouring the associated policy, the Bristol Old Vic not only pays tribute to its past but also looks towards the future by fostering a love and appreciation for the performing arts. As the gavel falls on this historic auction, it serves as a reminder of the enduring power of theatre and the role it plays in shaping our cultural identity.


Bristol Old Vic Pledges to Honour Historic Free-Ticket Token Auction
<< photo by Tuur Tisseghem >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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Edwards Jake

G'day, I'm Jake Edwards, the man on the street. I've been crisscrossing this great country, bringing you the human stories that make Australia what it is. From interviews with local legends to the everyday Aussie battlers, I'm here to tell your stories. So let's yarn, Australia

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