Friday, April 5, 2013

Object of the Day: A Victorian Mr. Punch, c. 1890

This puppet recently came from England to live at my house with the other assortment of Punchinellos who share the place with me.  He's quite old.  I'd say he dates between 1890 and 1900.  Still wearing his original costume of velvet, he retains traces of metallic gold-silk adornment and trimmings, and even has a  bit of his original wig.

His head is constructed of papier mache, rather odd for a professional Mr. Punch puppet, yet, he shows all the characteristic signs of having been used in Punch and Judy shows--wear from slapsticks and such.  I do think, even, this is his original paint job.  His little hands and feeties are of carved wood and the sleeve which conceals the Professor's arm is constructed of striped cotton.

I am quite pleased that he's come to live here and like him quite a lot despite the fact that he's something of a mystery.  By that I mean, I'm not sure who made him.  Usually, the puppet-maker would leave a mark inside the puppet, often around the base of his neck.  This one, however has no sign of such a mark or signature.  

My guess, and it's only a guess based on his physical characteristics, is that he's the work of Victorian Punch and Judy man, Albert Smith.  Compare my little fellow to this example of Smith's work on this Punch and this Joey the Clown and see what you think.

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