Decorate your own penny plains

Set your creativity free with this colourful activity – from 150 years ago!

Theatrical souvenir print engraved with a portrait of the actor Mr Osbaldiston in the role of Fra Diavolo, both uncoloured and coloured beside each other.

Here's a real life example - coloured in more than a hundred years ago!

It shows the well-known actor 'Mr Osbaldiston' taking the role of 'Fra Diavolo'.

The Victorians didn't have Facebook or Instagram to follow their favourite celebrities. But they did have something: their own 'penny plains'!

These souvenirs were drawings of famous actors in their most popular theatre roles. They were called penny plains as it cost a penny to buy an undecorated picture, or twopence for a picture that was already coloured in.

You can live a bit of history for yourself by decorating your own penny plains! Simply print off some of the characters and actors from the past shown below, then use anything you have at home to colour in and decorate these stars of the Victorian stage.

What you'll need

The basic things needed to decorate your own are:

  • A printer to print out your penny plain
  • Felt-tip pens
  • Crayons
  • Colouring pencils

But it'd be even better with:

  • Sequins
  • Foil
  • Tissue Paper
  • Scraps of paper
  • Pom poms
  • Glue

Who will you bring to life?

Click the images you'd like to download them as PDFs ready to print.

Share your masterpieces!

Once you've finished with the glitter, pens and tinsel, we'd love it if you'd share your creations with us.

Just tweet us @museumoflondon with your handiwork!