30
Jun
20

Wonderful things

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One must admire the very welcome initiative of the British Museum to digitise and put many of its treasures on line for anyone in the world to enjoy for free. This includes quite a lot of Toy Theatre prints, including over 60 images from the great publisher William West, which would normally not be seen elsewhere.

If you visit their website and then search the catalogue, you can look at the full entries for everything to get masses of details or just tick the “images only” box.

Put in “Ralph Thomas” to get over 650 items. Many of these “items” consist of multiple sheets such as scenes for a play or in one case a collection of about 50 West combats. Ralph Thomas, a lawyer, sold his collection to the museum in 1886. It is the oldest that exists. William West was still publishing when he was a boy and his mother bought him one copy of every sheet remaining, what a mother! After West’s business folded he managed to buy a box containing the original drawings for some of the very earliest plays. Other treasures that you can actually download include the beautiful coloured scenes for “Battle of Waterloo”, “Olympic Revels”, “Aladdin” and the “Invasion of Russia” and characters for obscure plays.

In addition put in “Toy Theatre” and other items will appear in full glory including a set of Hodgson scenes for “King Richard the Third” that make an interesting comparison with the still available Green version.


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