The Underappreciated Magic of Puppets

By Special Guest Blogger

March 3rd, 2011

Blogger Lynda Abbott of Appraise Your Junk collects dolls, toys, and vintage advertisements, among other things. She’s known as Vestaswind on Show & Tell.

When I was in second grade, I had a friend who had traveled the world with her military father. In her room were dolls from around the world and a puppet stage right out of “The Sound of Music” movie. Being a showoff even then, I had already acquired a ventriloquist doll. Now I knew I had to have my own marionettes. Then, like today, you cannot just go to any store and find these dolls. Mom began her hunt and found my first one, a Hazelle Fairy marionette, at a thrift store. It was not long before I had a substantial collection, and was entertaining anyone that would watch with puppet shows.

Still, it is one of my most loved collections, and my handcrafted marionettes are my favorites. The origin of puppets is unknown; some believe the first use was for religious ceremonies, dating back thousands of years B.C., perhaps in India or China. Whatever their origin, it was not long before they were used solely for entertainment purposes. Many times, puppets played out roles that actors could not, because the play’s content was not suitable for people to act out. Take, for example, Punch and Judy.

Sadly, puppetry is not a popular collectibles field. Every once in a while, you will see a truly old marionette on eBay that will go for thousands. For the most part, however,  they do not command high prices. The handmade puppets tend to go for more because of the folk art aspect. Occasionally, I will see a handcrafted professional piece I drool over. For those of us who collect these wonderful pieces, it matters very little what they are worth. Be it a hand puppet, ventriloquist doll, or a marionette, they were toys that sparked imagination and take us back to simpler times.

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