A Wonderful c.1900 Ventriloquist's Dummy


Origin: English
Period: Late Nineteenth / Early 20th Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900
Height: 24 inches
Width (Shoulder to Shoulder): 7 inches

Of small proportions, the male dummy dressed in a white frock, the head and body constructed of a combination of paper maché, and carved and painted wood, the hands are painted in a very light skin colour, the legs consist of black painted simulated shoes, and brown legs with pom poms. The face is also in a light skin color with reddened cheeks; the lips are painted red, the eyebrows and eyelashes black.

There is some loss to the face and head with a few areas lacking. The face has an even craquelure and is evocative and commensurate with its ripe old age. The simple peg mechanism for the mouth is in working order. There hasn’t been any over painting which is pleasing and the whole seems wonderfully original.

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.

This is an early dummy, and albeit it small, it is one with a very mysterious aura to it.