A Fantastic Quality Early 20th Century Ventriloquist's Dummy


Origin: English
Period: Early 20th Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1930
Height: 39 inches
Width (Shoulder to Shoulder): 11 inches
Depth: 8 inches (maximum)

Of high build quality, the head and body constructed of a combination of paper maché, and plaster composition parts and lower limbs with fabric attachments. The hands are painted in a very light skin colour, the legs consist of black painted simulated shoes. The face is also in a light skin color with reddened cheeks; the lips are painted red, the eyebrows and eyelashes black.

The costume for the dummy is of the highest tailored quality, and in excellent condition. James (for that is his name) wears a three-piece tweed suit with shirt, black buttons and a purple tie. The glass eyes are of excellent quality and on his head is a parted crop of brown hair in a side parting.

There are three actions for the dummy operated by metal levers, all fully functional being the mouth, the leather lower top and lower lips both move up or down to reveal white-painted teeth and the eyes flick side to side. James also has the benefit of a controlled right arms by a leather handled rod allowing the user to control almost every part of the dummy.

James is in very good overall original condition, there has been no over painting or restoration to speak of. There are a few chips to the paint to the face and the feet have some flaking to the paint and there are pin holes to parts of the face. The costume and hair are all in excellent order.

The uncanny nature of ventriloquist’s dummies has enthralled and spooked people for decades, and they continue to feature in horror films to this day. The idea of the ghost in the inanimate object is not a new one, Freud has written at length on the subject in his discussions on the uncanny, and ghost stories have featured dolls and portraits coming to life for centuries.

James is a wonderful impressionist himself, his best impression being that of Bill Crosby “Spaghetti and meatballs!!!!” Meet him and see for yourself.