Penny plain, Tuppence coloured

I recently found a cool blog about Japanese comics (mainly!), Three Steps Over Japan:

The writer likes to collect and make “papercraft” free gifts, which regularly come with comics over there. This got me thinking about the “penny plain, tuppence coloured” toy theatres that used to come with the Penny Dreadfuls, and which were the origin of the free (and not so free) gifts in British comics. Of course many people think that the trend of gifts has gone too far in British comics, often it’s more like you are paying for the toys and the comic is the “gift”! Still The Dandy included some cut-out cardboard papercraft items for Christmas a few years ago, which ought to be applauded, as at least it gave an artist a job!

Anyway just today I took delivery of 6 month’s worth of The Boys’ Friend from 1909. And what did that give away for Christmas that year? A model theatre and “actors”!


The cover of that issue – a double number!


The “theatre” itself. It’s on glossy(ish) paper and was difficult to photograph decently.

It also came with comprehensive instructions and a bit of extra background scenery. The story was in prose form, as that issue’s complete. Every issue of The Boys Friend contained at least one, of around 10,000 words in length.


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