Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in London

Gareth Lloyd, archivist at The John Rylands Library has brought to light a scrapbook containing pamphlets, photographs and various other ephemera related to Buffalo Bill and his wild west shows in Britain during the late 19th and early 20th century. Buffalo Bill (William Frederick Cody) first brought his wild west show to London in 1887 during the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The scrapbook was put together by Alfred J. Hipkins and John Hipkins for Jane Souter Hipkins.  The introduction to the scrapbook, written by Edith J. Hipkins records that:  ‘this collection of odds and ends are a memento mori of an exhibition of real life held in London some years ago.  Collected by my brother and carried out by my father for our mother’s amusement’.

From initial research it appears that Alfred J. Hipkins (1826-1903) was a writer on musical instruments and Jane Souter Hipkins was his second wife. Their daughter Edith J. Hipkins was a portrait painter and their son, John (1851-1933) was a wood-engraver.  A portrait of Alfred J. Hipkins painted by his daughter Edith can be found on the National Portrait Gallery’s website.

The Hipkins family became friendly with Buffalo Bill and the performers in the Wild West Show, whilst they stayed in London. Edith J. Hipkins in the introduction to the scrapbook writes of spending a Sunday with Luther Standing Bear, who was part of the show when it came to London.

The scrapbook provides a wealth of research for those interested in history, anthropology, American Studies, race, imperialism and the rise of mass entertainment.

Selected images of pamphlets, postcards and photographs from the scrapbook are now available to view in The University of Manchester Library’s image collection: Buffalo Bill Scrapbook

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