204. K&P on the London Stage, 1893: “Mary Ann Maginty (Smoking Song)”

204. K&P on the London Stage, 1893: “Mary Ann Maginty (Smoking Song)”

Three years before K&P’s first catalog and three years after Charles Peterson’s first patent, the Peterson Patent Pipe made its debut on the London music hall stage in E. W. Rogers’s “Mary Ann McGinty (Smoking Song).”

Edwin William Rogers (1863-1913) was a fairly prolific English songwriter for music hall performers at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, remembered for “Ask a P’Liceman” and “Lambeth Walk” among others.

As the cover of the New York-issue of the sheet music proclaims, “Mary Ann Maginty” was “Sung & Smoked by Walter Munroe, also by Miss Maggie Dugan.” According to the Footlight Notes blog, Munroe (1866?–1928) was “a music hall agent and sometime entertainer,” and Duggan a well-liked chanteuse with versatile comedic talents.

In the September 9th edition of The Era, a British weekly paper (1838-1939) that was noted for its theatrical and sports coverage, Munroe took out the following ad:

Success enormous. Everyone delighted with New Song, the
Famous Travestie on Mr Horace Wheatley’s song “After
the Ball,” “After the Ball,” by Powell & Arnold, pub-
lished by B.Mocatta and Co.

MR WALTER MUNROE

begs to inform Managers of Music Halls, Theatres, and
Burlesque Companies, that his Smoking Song, “Mary Ann
Maginty,” must not be used in any way without his written
consent. Miss Mary Duggan is the only Artiste who has any
right. Written and Composed by E. W. Rodgers; published
by Francis Bros. & Day; Pipe, by Kapp and Peterson,
Dublin. Agent, Macdermott. (bold added)

 

A music hall audience of the period: notice the tables for eating and drinking.
The ladies don’t seem to be having much fun, do they?

The song thus seems to have been performed either by Munroe or by Duggan, but not as a duet. Either way, it’s a bit of a pipe smoker’s comic fantasy: Mary Ann’s boy must smoke or she’ll have nothing to do with him! (So much for progress, lads.) Music halls were fairly rowdy places at the time and rarely frequented by respectable young women. Derek B. Scott writes that “the saucy song with a sexual theme was part of music hall from its beginnings,” and this one is no exception:

I’m in love with a nice young girl, that’s so, you know,
Eyes like violets and teeth like pearl, a treat, complete,
She consented when first I met her
She would have me, for worse or better,
Oh! to clasp her waist so slender,
She is the best of the feminine gender.
Here she is, good ’biz! “How do? How’re you?
Pa’s out, no doubt! to-night? All right!”
I’m off to seek the kitchen fire,
And spoon the charmer I admire.

Chorus:
She’s sweet, neat, small feet, och bedad she is a treat!
Face, style, grace, smile, lips you feel you’d like to eat,
Hair fair, form rare, just the girl you’d like to spoon,
And I’m in love with Mary Ann Maginty, and I’ll marry her to-morrow afternoon.

My girl says she must have a beau who smokes and jokes,
Smoke’s a thing makes me bad you know, bedad, so bad
She says, “Lovely tobacco, bliss is”
Always asks me for smoky kisses,
To please her this smoke I’m whiffing,
But my feelings are not at all ‘spiffing.’
When I smoke, no joke, the ground goes round,
Brain whirls, head twirls, I’m ill, but still
My heart my feelings gets above,
And all because the girl I love.

Chorus

Sometimes when I am out with her, Oh dear, I’m queer!
I feel just like a half-drowned cur, a sight, so white,
She says, “What’s the matter lovey?”
And I answer, “Spasms, dovey!”:
But my pipe will soon confuse me,
I say, “Love, you must pray excuse me
I’m off to meet old pal, next street, half tick,
Be quick, I’m queer, pain here,
I feel it, but keep on I must,
I’ll sing this chorus though I bust.

Chorus

The original song from which this “travestie” was taken was “After the Ball” by Charles K. Harris. You can hear it in two period recordings here and here, to get an idea of the tune. I’m sure it was a hoot to see “Mary Ann Maginty” performed by Munroe, ducking stage right to be faux-nauseated from too much “Vitamin N.” And what of Duggan? I wonder if she sang it as the character of Mary Ann?

Cabinet photo of Duggan courtesy the National Portrait Gallery

The month after Munroe’s ad appeared in The Era another mention of K&P came in the London music news, this time in The Music Hall issue for October 20, 1893, p. 19:

Whether or not this uptick in The Era‘s use of Patent Systems was connected in any way to Munroe’s use of a Peterson in his recent performances, it’s certainly evidence of K&P’s increasing visibility among the public. While Miss Duggan seems to enjoy her cigarettes and Mr. Munroe holds a cigar on the sheet music cover, the fact that Munroe gave credit to K&P in his ad for The Era makes it obvious that, at least as a prop, the Patent System was more suitable than either cigar or cigarette and may have been something of a fad at the time. As to which Patent Munroe selected, there’s no way of knowing except that the larger the pipe, the easier it would have been seen by the audience.

The X.O.3 straight-sided billiard was the smallest
of the three oversize Patent House Pipes.

If you can get past the title, Derek Scott’s “Music Hall: Regulations and Behaviour in a British Cultural Institution” offers a fascinating look at what light entertainment was like in London during this period. Lovers of P. G. Wodehouse, Edwardian and late Victorian fiction will begin to understand the opportunities for getting in trouble young men of that period (and older ones, who should’ve known better) confronted in such establishments.

 

Thanks to Steven Hersey
for funding this article.

Thanks also to Marco Kapp
for his warmth and generosity
in sharing his family history.

 

 

Celtic Encircling Prayer for Pipe Smokers and Others

Circle me O God
Keep hope within
Despair without.

Circle me O God
Keep peace within
Keep turmoil out.

Circle me O God
Keep calm within
Keep storms without.

Circle me O God
Keep strength within
Keep weakness out.

 

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Paul Schmolke
Paul Schmolke
1 month ago

Every time I read one of these very interesting pieces, I immediately check into my favorite on line pipe seller to see if they have one available. A close examination of the photo shows the number 3 which is no longer made as best I can tell. I’d buy one in a flash if I could. They should reintroduce some of the early shapes for those of us who are pretty much devoted to our Peterson pipes and always looking for a reason to own just one more. If they where good smokers way back when, I’m sure there’d still… Read more »

Paul Schmolke
Paul Schmolke
1 month ago

Felt like a fool after a bit more investigation its a 313/338 and I have one already. Its a good smoker too. Ignore my earlier comment

Jorgen Jensen
Jorgen Jensen
1 month ago

Good morning. Yes, thanks to Steven. Pure culture.

Ralle Perera
Ralle Perera
1 month ago

A very fine article Mark . One of the best. 😊😊😊
I give my very best wishes to you all who read and enjoy Marks articles. Stay safe and take care.

Kindly

Ralle P.

Ralle Perera
Ralle Perera
1 month ago

And of course thank you Steven Hersey and also to Marco Kapp.

Steven Hersey
Steven Hersey
1 month ago

A bit of social commentary here as well as the focus on the Peterson pipe. Smoking was de rigeur back then, though I’m sure there were anti smoking lobbies as well, and as for women smoking… How huge the tobacco industry must have been in those days. The UK used to have a BBC TV series called The Good Old Days which parodied music hall turns and characters, in period costume, with actual stars of stage and screen presenting song, comedy and even vaudeville style juggling or magic acts, all in a much sanitised atmosphere for viewers. Good fun, quite… Read more »

Jack Gillespie
1 month ago

These types of stories always remind me of J. M. Barrie’s My Lady Nicotine. Barrie is most famous for Peter Pan. It’s said he was never without his pipe (and yet there wasn’t a pipe to be seen in the movie about his life staring Johnny Depp!). It’s a fun, light read where the protagonist talks at one point about how his wedding was postponed for six months because his bride to be demanded he make a decision between marrying her or quit smoking! You can find free, online versions here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18934

Andy Camire
Andy Camire
1 month ago

Love waking to read such an interesting post for us Pete Freaks. Being taken back to a time that seems to be so nostalgic and tobacco friendly. A risque song for sure that fit the times with some welcome and entertaining verses from the lady who enjoys a boy that smokes. Mark you are the enabler to those of us that love to look back and search for those elusive vintage Peterson Briars or any ephemera containing reference to the historical Kapp & Peterson Company. Thanks for the positive and informative stories you share.

Marlowe
Marlowe
1 month ago

Fun article Mark.