Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Toy Theatre

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English Toy Theatre: Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life!

During the 1800s, Benjamin Pollock sold the Toy Theater as a craft hobby for children. Each toy theater play came with printed sheets that featured characters and settings for that particular play, which children would cut out and use to stage the plays in little wooden theaters. Each toy theater play set even came with a short script for the children to use to act out the story.

The idea for the Toy Theater likely was a result of the popularity of theatrical prints that were sold in London near Theater Row in the 1800s. The Toy Theater no doubt opened up a new market for London printmakers to sell their theatrical prints too – children. This can be seen by the fact that the plays featured in Pollock’s Toy Theater often reflected the types of plays that were popular on stage at the time.

Interest in Toy Theater eventually waned, with Pollock being one of the last Toy Theater merchants. After his passing, his inventory of printed sheets and printing plates was purchased by Marguerite Fawdry. She used the materials to found the Pollock’s Toy Museum in the 1950s, and the museum still exists in London to this day.    

Travel Guides to England and Scotland

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Tourism the Old-Fashioned Way: Travel Guides to England and Scotland

Planning a trip to a new place, either to a new country, or within one’s own country, used to be a very different experience from what we are used to today. In a time way before the internet, how did people find out about places they had never been to? They consulted books. Many travel guidebooks were published during the 1800s, and they contained information about places of interest that people might want to visit, plus included drawings or photographs of certain locations that were featured in the guidebooks. Sometimes guidebooks were even framed as a story of someone’s travels through a certain region. And those kinds of resources were often all that people had to go on when making plans for a trip.

Today, old travel guidebooks may not be of much use to actual travellers, but they are not worthless. They contain a great deal of interesting historical information, and some wonderful artwork. The items featured in this exhibit highlight England and Scotland in particular, and showcase why those countries have attracted so many visitors over the years.

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Miami University Collection Highlights

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Putting Our Stars on Display

On one occasion, the Special Collections and Archives department at Miami University was hosting a small reception. The University Archivist put together a great display about Freedom Summer in the reading room, but one table in the corner was left open so that some of the most popular (and some of the most expensive) items from special collections could be displayed to visitors. It’s always nice to be able to showcase some of the treasures that the department owns, so we pulled some materials to display. However, setting books out on display takes up a fair amount of room. So a one-table display quickly became a two-tables display. I made sure to lay everything out in a way that would allow people to easily be able to view at least one item from wherever they were standing around the tables, and then the display was ready to go.

The photos in this exhibit highlight the materials that I arranged on display. They include items such as a leaf from a Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare first folio, a book of hours, a book with marbled endpages, a Bible with two different fore-edge paintings, letters written by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, postcards, artist’s books, and more.

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