Toy theatre

PROJECT DATE : 2015
project
Toy theatre
client
Sydney Living Museums
services
Paper Conservation

Overview

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.

Condition

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.

Treatment

  • Removal of loose surface dirt, followed by removal of the two wooden struts along the sides and the adhesive residues beneath them.
  • Old repairs were then removed from the corner joins using a poultice to soften the adhesive.
  • Next, the whole front piece was humidified and flattened to reduce overall warping
  • The mount board was refolded along its original fold-lines.
  • The corners were repaired and supported with medium weight Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.
  • Areas of lifting and delamination were also re-adhered.
  • Finally, the iron-based nails were treated with a rust inhibitor and the wooden struts were put back in place.

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.

More information

Read Toys Through Time from Sydney Living Museums

project
Toy theatre
client
Sydney Living Museums
services
Paper Conservation
Before Treatment corner join
After Treatment

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