This miniature toy theatre has been recreated from a handpainted original and is made, as the original would have been, from thick paper/thin card which is ingeniously cut and folded to make a surprisingly robust, 3 dimensional structure.
The theatre stage measures 1 5/8 inches wide (42mm) x 1 inch (25mm) deep x 1 7/8 inches (47mm) tall (the proscenium is relatively tall).
It comes with a set of 7 scenes, 5 pairs of side wings, a coach, a fountain, a kitchen table and 28 characters/sets of characters for the play Cinderella.
The set is very nearly complete, but one set of wings was missing and so I duplicated the one that I had in order to make a matching pair.
The triangular pediment, and the bust of Shakespeare that fits on to it, were originally three pieces that were glued together – in this version they are one piece and have been resized to fit the top of the proscenium more exactly than they did in the original.
The weakest part of these sets was always the side wings. It is a design fault that I find maddening and I have strengthened the side wings with an extra strip of card and they are no longer nearly as bendy as they should be (!), but they are still the most fragile part of the theatre.
I have omitted the ‘trick’ items as they are too small to be used at this size.
A little bit of history and credit where it is due –
Theatres were very popular toys for a great part of the 19th Century and they came in all shapes and sizes. This reproduction is slightly larger than 12th scale, but it is still of a typical size.
This miniature example is based on one originally published by H. Mathews of Acton, Middlesex – sometime in the last 20 years of the 19th Century – and it comes with a set of scenes, side wings and characters originally published by B. Pollock, 73 Hoxton Street, Hoxton (London) and these, from the address, it can be dated to circa 1876.
The scenes and characters were originally published in October 1844 by John Kilby Green and the theatre is very similar in design to one that was created by him too.
The folded card structure for the theatre is courtesy of an example in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The box is completely my own invention – these sets did not (as far as I know) ever come boxed – and it features part of a page from the character set by Mr B. Pollock and reproduction antique marbled paper.
The box makes a very useful stand for the stage.
The characters are mounted on paper bases and ‘sliders’ made of florist’s wire – this is not a ‘toy’, it is a ‘collector’s item’
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