A Rare Cased c.1932 Ventriloquist’s Dummy By Arthur Quisto

Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1932
Torso Height: 21”
Leg Length: 28”
Width (Shoulder to Shoulder): 12”
(all approximate)

The turn of the century period male vent figure of high build quality in 100% original condition, with five operating mechanisms to animate the lips, mouth, and eyes, the head stick travelling to the bottom board of the body with peg into which the pin fits giving the head a 360 degree rotation, in tweed suit with check bow-tie, ribbed socks and leather shoes, the head of short brown horse hair and the body constructed of a combination of paper maché, and wooden composition parts with the carved wooden hands painted in a light skin colour. The long and double hinged two part legs giving the figure yet more function with the handles well worn and positioned through the dummies base and out the other side for control. The whole is presented in the original quality tin and iron-bound carrying suitcase trunk, in keeping with the period.

In good overall original condition, there has been a little over-painting to the face but the whole is in fine fettle considering its advanced years. All five of the mechanisms are in working order. The costume for the dummy is good quality and all original. The trunk is probably twenty years younger than the figure but is a decent quality canvas and leather case.

Arthur Quisto lived from 1882 to 1960. His real name was Edwin Simms. He was known primarily for his Punch & Judy Shows, but Quisto also built figures for Tom Coram and Arthur Prince. He used pneumatic devices and was the first to use electromagnetic devices to animate his figures.

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.

One of the rarest ventriloquist figures one could hope to find and as such is the true connoisseurs choice.