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© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Harvard Depository, pf
Call No.: MS Thr 969
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Title: Toy theater collection,
Date(s): 1890-1997 and undated.
Quantity: 1 collection (5 linear feet (12 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, and French.
Abstract: Toy theater materials from the United States, England, Spain, Denmark, and Germany.
Toy theaters were especially popular as English children's toys in the first half of the 19th-century. They were also called paper theaters and model theaters. By the late 19th-century popularity waned and publishing of these materials declined. Individual character portrait prints known as "penny plains" and "twopence coloureds" were collected and often used in toy theaters, as were engraved prints of multiple characters and scenery. Performing scripts were written especially for children to be used with these materials.
Organized into the following series:
- I. Toy theaters, cutouts, models, and paper dolls
- II. Miscellany for toy theaters
Primarily reproductions of early 19th-century toy theater material, but some were newly designed and manufactured in the 20th-century. Collection contains toy theaters manufactured in Germany, Spain, England, the United States, and Denmark, including full cardboard and wooden theaters, prosceniums, stage floors, cloth curtains, scenery, characters, character slides, printed scripts, an audiocassette, and paper wrappers. Also includes cutouts, models, a set of electric lights for a toy theater, plastic and wooden toy figures, stencils, and paper dolls. Companies and individuals associated include: McLoughlin Bros., D'Oyly Carte, Mike Bartley, C. B. Nualart (El Teatro de los Niños), Pollock's Toy Theatres, Theatre Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum), Walt Disney Company, and many others. Tiles include: Sweeny Todd, The Mikado, Punch & Judy, The Merchant of Venice, Violet, Cinderella, Aladdin, Jack the Giant Killer, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast among others.
The majority of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.