toy theatre



  • A type of children's play theater that became very popularin the mid 19th century. With their accurate replicas of contemporarysets and costumes, the toy theaters are now a valuable source of informationfor researchers. The child constructed the theater by cutting outdrawings from a sheet and mounting them on cardboard. Figures representingpopular actors and actresses could then be drawn across the stageon metal slides. Simplified texts of well-known plays were also available,so the child could present a complete performance.

    The first toy theater sheets were issued in 1811 by WilliamWest; between 1815 and 1835 some 50 publishers are known to have existed.The sheets, available in penny-plain and twopence-coloured versions,covered about 300 plays, including Boucicault's The Corsican Brothersand Pocock's The Miller and His Men. The original blocks werebeing used to print sheets as recently as 1932.

    Miniature theaters for children were also popular in Europe,especially in Germany, Denmark, and Spain, but these only reproducedjuvenile drama.