Friday, February 21, 2014

The Art of Play: Mr. Punch's Gallows, c. 1900

The Victoria and Albert Museum

Anyone familiar with the traditional Punch & Judy shows knows that among Punchinello's many tribulations is a battle with Jack Ketch, the hangman wherein our hero pleads, "Please don't hang me."  Well, the puppet character of Jack Ketch does not hang Mr. Punch; instead, he is hanged by Punch upon his own gallows.

And, here's such a gallows.

This is a property for a Punch and Judy show which was owned, and presumably operated by Will Judge (1882-1960), who was, as I've written before, billed variously as "the Norfolk Comedian" and a "Refined Comedian and Patterer."  Again, this is curious as Judge was famed for his Panto Dame roles, but is not ever recorded as being a Punch and Judy man.  Oddly enough, he had a fully formed set of Punch & Judy puppets and props which were donated to the V&A by Judge's son.

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