Hexham Old Gaol & The Moot Hall
Approximately 20,000 Chater’s Annuals were published annually and “sold everywhere”, between 1860 and 1880 by John W. Chater. The annuals contained a mixture of songs, poems, comic tales, jokes, conundrums, tongue twisters and other items of frivolity suitable for the festive season.
The title of the book varied from year to year, and appears to have been a keenly anticipated publication with a loyal and regular audience. The first of our copies is entitled “Chater’s Comic Alminack” and the second is the “Keelmin’s Comic Annewal”. The covers are illustrated in a bold typeface and bright colours and list a wide range of topics within – all written in broad Geordie dialect – or as Mr Chater puts it –
Myed up and put doon an clagg’d tegithor i th’ Northumberland Lingo
J.W. Chater operated from a shop in Clayton Street Newcastle upon Tyne. His main business was as a stationer and bookseller, though he seems also to have had at least one side-line as a chemist selling patent medicines as well as advertising the goods above the title –
For luxuriant hair and for comfort most rare
And for curls soft as thoughts in a dream
You to HOPWOOD & CO must immediately go
For their nutritive sedative cream…
These days, the annual is fascinating as much for the advertisements as for the actual content. There are advertisements for the theatre, all the latest fashions, directories of shops and services and jobs. The price was 3d (or thrippence as it says on the cover) in 1863, but the price had increased to 6d – double the amount by 1869!
Although many annuals were published, very few survive. However, a large selection of the Chater books are held in Museums Northumberland’s collections at the Border History Library at Hexham. They make for a fascinating glimpse into North East local and social history.