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This collection, dealing with the history of theatrical transvestism and gender impersonation, was begun by Richards during research for the physical and digital exhibition, All Frocked Up: Glimpses of Cross-Dressing in Saskatchewan (2003).To provide historical and international context to the images from Saskatchewan, Richards collected, principally through Ebay, paper ephemera featuring female and male impersonators who had achieved fame on British music hall and American vaudeville stages during the first half of the 20th century. The collection contains material relating to the careers of Vesta Tilley; Julian Eltinge; John Graffton; Millie Gold; Hetty King; Danny Brown; Doc Benner; Danny LaRue; Charles Pierce; Jim Bailey; Rae Bourbon; Lynn Carter; Divine; Hinge and Bracket; Rex Jameseon; T. C. Jones; Hector Nicol; Nellie Kolle; Grace Leonard; Dixie Norton; Clarie Romaine; Ella Shields; Florenze Tempest; Bert Errol; William Lingard; Tom Martelle and Karyl Norman.
In 2010 Richards donated his Pro-Wrestling Collection which consists of two principal focuses - the period 1950 to 1970, often seen as a golden age of professional wrestling due to the entertainment’s enormous popularity on early television, and material documenting wrestling in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan and other parts of Western Canada. The majority of the collection’s items are American in origin although many of these were distributed and widely available in Canada. Canadian produced photos and publications are additionally well represented. A small number of items were produced in Great Britain and Australia. The collection’s focus represents the collector’s personal interests – and the types of professional wrestling with which he had a personal connection or knowledge. For this reason there is only a minimal representation of material from the post 1980 period associated with the dominance of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) promotion.
The collection’s publication dates span the period from the early 20th century to the present. Formats represented in the collection include monographs (over 160 book titles), catalogued wrestling photos (over 900 images), hundreds of fan magazines and event programs, and examples of paper ephemera including posters, pamphlets, fan scrapbooks, trading cards, and comics.
Among the highlights of the collection are a large number of one sheet wrestling portraits published in the Police Gazette (1889-1913), similar printed portraits from Montreal’s La Presse (1928-1932), and a large collection of Canadian, especially Quebec, fan magazines. The highlight of the program collection is a very extensive run of illustrated programs from Stampede Wrestling promotions in Regina (1970-1985). Of particular interest and rarity are complete or near complete collections of many of the most important series of wrestling trading cards. These include the 1954-1955 and 1955-1956 series of Canadian Parkhurst cards, the three series of Arcade cards produced by the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago (1950, 1960 and 1964) and the very rare series of Topps Hocus-Pocus Magic Photos of wrestlers produced in 1948. The monograph collection includes many rarities including an autographed copy of NWA wrestling champion Lou Thesz’s autobiography The Hooker and a copy in dust jacket of The Fall Guys (1937), one of the first published exposes of wrestling’s scripted character.
There is also material pertaining to running in Saskatoon.
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- Neil Richards (Creation)