Toy theatres were first made in London in the early 1800s for people in the middle and upper classes. They were initially sold as souvenirs in conjunction with certain plays but soon became popular children’s toys. This particular toy theatre front piece (or ‘proscenium’) is a replica of the Britannia Theatre in Hoxton, London, which was built in 1841 and destroyed some time between 1913-1940.
It is made from paper with a coloured image printed on the front and is mounted onto a yellow-coloured straw board. Designed to sit as a three-dimensional object with the outer edges folding backwards, wooden struts were placed along the back of the top and two outer edges to strengthen it.
The aim of treatment was to improve the warping of the straw board and stabilise the corner joins and other areas of damage so that the theatre could be displayed at an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, Toys Through Time.
The wooden struts were loose and had separated from the board in some areas. Several previous repairs on the back of the corner joins had all failed, causing the joins to separate. There were small losses to the paper as well as areas of lifting and delamination to the straw board, which was also warping. Some surface dirt was also present across the front of the piece.
The overall result was a piece which could now sit proudly and safely on display as an important remnant of a particular era in British social history.
Read Toys Through Time from Sydney Living Museums
Overview This large panoramic photograph depicts the second test match in the 1892 Ashes series between Australia and England, at what is now known as the Sydney Cricket Ground. An iconic game in the history of Australian cricket, it helped spark the birth of the Sheffield Shield (the England team was known as Lord Sheffield’s XI). Condition On arrival at...
Overview With the Japanese bombing of Darwin and the submarine attack in Sydney Harbour, the perceived threat of war in Australia was at its highest in 1942. In readiness, the NSW State government provided air raid shelters for the travelling...