A Wonderful Early 20thC Cased Ventriloquist’s Dummy Attributed to Herbert Brighton


Origin: English
Period: Early 20th Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1905-15
Height: 28.5 inches
Width (Shoulder to Shoulder): 10 inches (both approx)

The Edwardian period dummy of high build quality, in a black dinner suit and waistcoat with white flannel bow-tie and mother of pearl and silver cabouchon pin, white shirt and herringbone tweed suit underneath, the head with applied chestnut wooly felt hair and the body constructed of a combination of paper maché, and plaster composition parts with lower limbs with fabric attachments with the wooden carved hands painted in a very light skin colour, the legs consist of black leather shoes. The face is also in a light skin color with slightly tinted cheeks; the thin set lips are painted red, the eyebrows and eyelashes black, the glass eyes brown, the whole presented in the original quality leather carrying suitcase, in keeping with the period.

In fair to good original condition, there is only some small flaking and craquelure to the paint on the forehead but nothing that isn’t commensurate with age. The hair is a bit tatty and slightly loose in places. The costume for the dummy is in good, original but tired condition with one area of loss to the reverse coat tail. The mouth mechanism is in good working order. The glass eyes  are sound but do not appear to move. The innards are reinforced with aluminum or tin to reinforce his upper body with some old painted markings but they are indecipherable.

The leather suitcase is ‘The Aldersgate’ and is of high quality is complete with key and has several labels reading G. Jackson, Chorley, Lancs with railway and shipping labels for cunard white star line and Lamport and Holt (Founded 132 years ago, the Lamport and Holt Line is one of Liverpool's best known shipping companies).

Herbert Brighton, who used to perform under the name Benson Grey, lived in Pitsea in Essex and died in around 1960.

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.

A true antique vent figure with a huge appeal and in its original case it proves to be an exciting untouched find.