Friday, July 12, 2013

The Art of Play: Punch and Judy Finger Puppets, circa 1970

Punch and Judy Finger Puppets, c. 1970
This and all related images from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sandcastles, donkey rides, Punch and Judy - all part of a day at the British seaside. At its popular in Victorian times, the show still brings pleasure (and terror!) to thousands of children on our summer beaches. 

So reads the reverse of this toy which has newly been added to the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I was quite tickled to find this circa 1970 finger puppet set when searching for Punch and Judy related items.  I was so tickled, in fact, that I almost forgot for a moment that it's July in Texas, and, therefore utterly miserable.  Almost.

Let's take a look at this charming set, shall we?  These finger puppets came packed in a box which also doubles as a fit-up or theatre for their miniature puppet show.  The set was meant as a charming reminder of bygone, innocent summers...summers that maybe weren't so hot and miserable.  Sorry...I was distracted.

The printed box sports the traditional striped, gilded frame, theatrical draping and green skirting associated for centuries with a Punch and Judy booth.  A die-cut opening at the front affords a venue for the finger puppets.  

Inside, are Punch and his wife, Judy--both made of printed cotton with slightly padded fronts.  Punch is dressed in his usual red suit and dropping hat, trimmed in gold.  Of course, he carries his cudgel.  Judy dons the traditional white checkered dress and lace cap which we associate with Mrs. Punch.  And, of course, she's carrying, "the Baby."

Manufactured in Britain, the set was designed and made by Anne Wilkinson Designs.  It was produced through 1990.

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