Charles Buchel created what is perhaps the most famous image of Peter Pan when he designed the poster for the first production for the Duke of York’s Theatre in London in 1904. Part of that image was cropped for use in a 1907 publication, The Peter Pan Keepsake, which was sold, among other places, in the lobby of that theatre. This souvenir program (left) features scenes of the first three years of Peter Pan with photos of Nina Boucicault, Cecilia Loftus, Pauline Chase, and even Maude Adams, along with lists of the casts. There are also a few photos of productions on tour in England.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Strobridge Company issued a series of beautiful posters advertising Peter Pan as the “most successful play of the century.” In 1897, producer Charles Frohman was using that same quote for another play featuring Maude Adams, The Little Minister. However, the claim could be at least be legitimized as that Barrie play arrived at the end of the 19th century while Peter Pan débuted at the beginning of the 20th century. How many actresses could boast their appearances in the most successful plays of two different centuries?
The poster above right was obviously based on Buchel’s work yet even with a more colorful palette; it lacks the unity of the original with its movement and charm. Note that the very masculine Peter looks nothing like Maude Adams although he appears in similar apparel including the famous “Peter Pan collar” and feathered cap.