3 [Brothel] Swearingen, Al, proprietor. Gem Theatre, Deadwood, Dakota. Souvenir Programme of the Two Hundredth Consecutive Night in this Theatre of Harry Montague’s Comedy Company… Deadwood, Dakota Territory: Pioneer Print . Narrow folio silk broadside, 18 x 7 inches on pink silk, a few threads unraveled on the left side, generally quite fine. Housed in
custom mylar and half-morocco folding case.
A rare survivor of Al Swearingen’s ‘Gem Theatre,’ the most notorious and famous brothel in Deadwood; this broadside was printed on pink silk as a souvenir for special friends and guests of Swearingen. Girls
were recruited from Eastern and other cities by Swearingen (usually spelled with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘i’)
for the Gem by being promised well-paying jobs as maids and waiteresses, but the really well-paying jobs were not what they expected. Silk broadsides, especially
ones related to a character such as Swearingen, are nearly unknown.The only other record I found to a silk broadside from Deadwood was in 1888 (the following year) to celebrate the election of Harrison which was offered by the Midland Rare Book company over 50 years ago (1961). Any brothel ephemera is rare, but especially rare is the survival of a pink silk brothel broadside.