Prints of this kind began in the 1790s as loose sheets of figures taken from
the popular theatre of the day and illustrating the key actors and
characters (for example, Robert Dighton's
of John Kemble playing the title role in
Pizarro). As such they were a kind of souvenir. Soon, however, enterprising
publishers began issuing sheets that had figures and theatrical scenes
designed to be cut out and made part of a toy theatre that children could
construct at home. These toy theatres were immensely popular throughout the
19th century, and it is clear (see
Marillier) that DGR played with them and used the engravings as
models for his juvenile drawing.
The images were available either
colored (as in
Characters in the Infernal Secret (1822) or
uncolored (as in J.K.
Characters and Scenes in the Flying Dutchman or the Phantom