English Toy Theater

Scene from Red Rover

10.5 cubic feet

The English toy theatre was a craft hobby for children during the 1800s.  It developed out of the popularity of theatrical portraits, which had long been sold as souvenirs in London. Each toy theatre play (sold for either “a penny plain or two pence coloured”) comprised several sheets of paper illustrating characters, props, and settings from contemporary productions. Children would cut the pieces out, assemble them, and then stage the play in little wooden theatres for their friends and family.  This collection focuses on these English theatrical toys and souvenirs, as well as other novelties printed in London during the 1800s. It includes: 145 Toy Theatre plays, featuring plates of characters, settings, wings and script books, 74 in color (6 of those with the pieces cut out), 71 in black & white; 95 theatrical portraits, panoramas, and miscellaneous printed novelties, 78 in color, 17 in black & white; a wooden toy theater and accessories, including colored gels for lighting and a metal slide to manipulate the characters on stage; promotional pamphlets, catalogs, and inventories for the Pollock Toy Museum in London; and, business correspondence between the Pollock Toy Museum and its U.S. sales agent.

English Toy Theater Finding Aid (pdf)
Toy Theater: Portraits and Miscellaneous Plates (pdf)
Toy Theater: Documents and Miscellaneous, Box 15: Folders 1 – 4 (pdf)
Toy Theater: Business Correspondence, Box 15: Folder 5 (pdf)
Toy Theater: Complete Scenery Information for Select Plays (pdf)

Pollock’s Toy Museum