Cigarette card for the week ending
Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Sisters Chester (fl. 1890s),
English music hall mandolinists, banjoists, singers and dancers

The Sisters Chester

The Sisters Chester

(photo: Hamilton & Son, Bristol, mid 1890s)

This real photograph cigarette card, published in England about 1900 in one of the series issued with Ogden's Guinea Gold Cigarettes, features a photograph of the The Sisters Chester, English music hall mandolinists, banjoists, singers and dancers.

The Sisters Chester

The Sisters Chester

(from a pen and ink drawing by Leonard Raven-Hill,
Pick-Me-Up, London, Saturday, 5 September 1891, p.374a)

The Standard Theatre of Varieties, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Westminster, London, August 1891
'The Sisters Chester had just taken down the shutters, figuratively speaking, as we took our seats. The sisters appeared to be three attractive young ladies, with lovely golden hair at one end and bright red stockings at the other, who wore their shapely arms in evening dress. After some agreeable mandolin and banjo playing, they broke into song, informing us that they were little fairies; and their performance concluded with some graceful dancing. At the commencement of her dance one of the young ladies suddenly reached up and brushed her hair back from her face, apparently forgetting at the moment that she was holding the corner of her skirt in her hand, and - er - as I said, the dancing was very graceful.'
(Pick-Me-Up, London, Saturday, 5 September 1891, p.374a)

The London music hall, London, September 1897
'. . . The Three Sisters Chester have also felt the patriotic impulse, and avow their intention of fighting for the dear old land. We prefer to see them stepping it neatly to their own banjo accompaniment.'
(The Era, London, Saturday, 11 September 1897, p. 18b)

The Canterbury music hall, London
'The Sisters Chester make another fine turn. Which do we admire most, their banjoing or their dancing? It would be hard to answer, for both are supremely good.'
(The Encore, London, Thursday, 25 January 1900, p. 10b)

M. Witmark & Sons, music publishers, 4 Featherstone Buildings, London, W.C.
'. . . The Sisters Chester, An enormous success with ''Ma rainbow Coon,''
'The three Sisters Chester are responsible for a capital turn; not only are they pleasing singers, but their instrumental playing on drums and also on banjos is very clever. While playing the latter instrument they sing a catching trio, ''Ma Rainbow Coon,'' in which the coloured hues thrown on their costumes by the aid of the limelight is very effective; they are also accomplished dancers.'
(The Music Hall, London, Friday, 19 July 1901, p. 43d, advertisement)

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© John Culme, 2009