Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vintage ToyTheaters - Penny Plain and Two Pence Coloured

I have a passion for all things vintage... Regency, Victorian, Medieval - European, Egyptian, Celtic, Russian and on and on.  I love reading historical romances and the images of ruffled fashions, enormous draped windows, flounces, ribbons, bows and jewels of all types. I'm also fascinated with a variety of  architectural images and elements like ironwork and vintage printers flourishes and ornaments.

There are times I can't help but wonder if I was just born in the wrong time period... till I think about how much I would miss things like my computer and certain civilized necessities of life we take for granted today.

So since I can't live in another time or place; I like to collect or view things with vintage character.  Many of my previous posts are about my antique Victorian paper doll collection.  Luckily they do not take up a great deal of space and are easy to duplicate via a scanner, printer or digital computer program.  However another of my interests "Toy Theaters" are not easy to collect and therefore I have not been able to house a collection of my own.  One of the reasons I wanted to learn Photoshop was so I could create fun digital images that are reminiscent of real Toy Theaters and slowly I've been building a collection of digital images so I could create my own world of these amazing treasures.

Example of a lavish Toy Theater
 Toy Theaters date back to the late 18th century and were the imaginational playground for many affluent children and adults during the height of their popularity. The best examples are large, lavishly created from wood, metal and high quality screen prints that make up the background scenes and cover the theaters themselves.  

Example of a modest theater
 For those of more moderate means the theaters were smaller and of more common materials. 
These un-assembled kits were sold at concession stands at European Opera Houses and Theaters and were usually printed on paperboard sheets.  These kits included the theater, several scenes, curtains and the players so you could assemble and re-enact the play or opera at home.

The mass produced toy theater kits came as " penny plain" or "two pence coloured".
The "penny plain" were black and white images that you could then color yourself.

Picture from the Valley Light Opera Website
A few of the original makers of these kits are still in business today. 
Replicas can be purchase in several sizes, with a variety of scenes, curtains and props available.

Pollock's Toy Store has been selling these theaters since the 1800's

Toy Theaters have also been called Paper Theaters and Model Theaters. There are several companies that produce a variety of items for the toy theater hobbiest and collector. Such as my favorite...Curtains. Unfortunately most of what I have found available are way too large for me to use in my crafting projects or to scan but I hope that one day soon some of these will be available as digital downloads.

One of the curtains I'd love to own but is way to large at
17 x 12 inches.
(sorry but their website only posts very low quality image of their products)

Lucky for me there are other great resources on the web where I can acquire bits and parts of stage pieces to craft with.  Most recently I've found several great items at and will be playing and creating with those in the very near future. 

I hope you drop back by to see what I've created in the spirit of the Toy Theater.

Grins and Giggles,

1 comment:

  1. It is always nice to find someone that has the same interests. Thank you for sharing!