Last Thursday in San Francisco whilst dashing from museum to museum indulging in impressionism, we also went to the Museum of Performance and Design, located in the Herbst Theatre building next to the Opera House. I had been tipped off that there was a marvelous exhibition of vintage toy theatres there.
And there certainly was - more than a dozen of complete theatre set-ups with prosceniums, scenery and characters representing the best of England, Spain, Denmark, Germany and Mexico. These were in large free-standing glass cases so you could get very close and examine all the detail. And the surrounding walls were covered with framed sheets of scenery, curtains, flys, and characters. When these were first published the black and white versions were sold for a penny and the coloured sheets were two pence. Slightly more now that they are treasured antiques.
Many of the pieces for the exhibit were originally from Pollock's in England, one of the premier publishers and sellers of toy theatres over the last 150 years. I was lucky enough to get to visit Pollock's shop and museum on Scala Street in London a few years ago. It was a joy to get to see several of these pieces again.