Steppes Hill Farm Antiques Newsletter #89 - January 2019

Punch & Judy Puppet Booths

The Vesta Case illustrated on the front cover of the Christie's Catalogue the last time that it came onto the market nearly 20 years ago

In the early 18th century large Marionette Theatres became popular being presented in large tents, taverns or town halls and most people would of known Mr Punch as being a stringed puppet similar to the Thunderbirds!

Towards the end of the century these large shows which required several puppeteers to operate and were difficult to transport and operate began to give way to the glove puppet shows which could be performed in a narrow puppet theatre now known as a booth and be performed by one Punch Showman on his own. It was at this time that Mr Punch made the transition from being a Marionette stringed puppet to the now common glove puppet. It was also around this time that Judy entered the Show having been previously known as Joan.

These early booths were easy to move around and at the end of the day the Showman would pack his puppets away and carry the booth on his shoulders or on a cart. He would have an assistant with him known as a bottler who would help draw the crowds by maybe playing pipes or a drum and at the end of the show would go round with the bottle and collect money from the public for watching the show.

They would move from street to street or town to town performing the show setting up on a corner and drawing a crowd, they became a very common site in London and many of the major towns and cities with the squawk of Mr Punch's voice which is produced from the mouth of the Showman by a small reed which is placed in the top of the mouth and blown through to produce words known as a swazzle, only Mr Punch's voice uses the swazzle all the other characters have normal voices.

Originally the show was intended for adults and they were often topical acting out the news stories of the day. It was also common to see a small real dog used on the show who's name was always Toby, he would be taught to bark or bite Mr Punch on order! Punch Showmen have often been known as Professors, it is said that the King granted permission for any person performing Punch and Judy could be know as a Prof!

It was later in the Victorian times that the show changed from being adult entertainment to a Children's show, with the Victorians choosing to go on holidays to the Sea Side it wasn't long before the Punch Showman followed. Ask anyone to name the three top things they associate with the Sea Side and they would probably say Punch and Judy. It was in the late Victorian and Edwardian times that the Punch booths turned into the red and white striped with ornate prosceniums that we now associate with today. Also all of the characters that are still used in the show today started to creep into the routine with the Baby, Doctor, Beadle later followed by the Police Man, Hector the Horse, the Crocodile, Ghost and the grand finale with the Devil!

Punch and Judy show, possibly by George Cruikshank, 19th century. Victoria & Albert Museum

A traditional Punch & Judy Booth at Swanage, Dorset, England


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Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Silver & Enamel Dominoes Vesta Case 1897 Rare Victorian Novelty Gold Trowel Propelling Pencil Victorian Novelty Silver Acorn Telescopic Propelling Pencil Victorian Silver & Enamel Dewar's Whisky Advertising Vesta Case
Victorian Antique Silver Castle-Top Vinaigrette - London Bridge 20th Century Arts & Crafts Hammered Silver Caddy Spoon - Two Storks George III Provincial Silver Marquis's Coronet Wine Label 'Sherry' Edwardian Novelty Silver Rabbit Pin Cushion

Once again I am pleased to be able to update the site this month with over 30 new items of stock and some highlights include; a Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Silver & Enamel Dominoes Vesta Case,  a rare Victorian Novelty Gold Trowel Propelling Pencil, a Victorian Novelty Silver Acorn Telescopic Propelling Pencil, a rare Victorian Silver & Enamel Dewar's Whisky Advertising Vesta Case,  a rare Victorian Silver Castle-Top Vinaigrette depicting London Bridge,  a 20th Century Arts & Crafts Hammered Silver Caddy Spoon with pierced Storks handle, a rare George III Provincial Silver Marquis's Coronet Wine Label for 'Sherry', and an Edwardian Novelty Silver Rabbit Pin Cushion.


The Coats of Arms or Crests illustrated in the 12 images could be attributed to the following individuals / families or institutions, and were taken from the sold items of stock described below:--

1. EBPP100413 Vesta Case, Baron Allsopp for Henry Allsopp, 1st Baron Hindlip.
2. CH0099 Currant Label, Latham (Lathum/Lathom) family poss’ Henry Latham.
3. EBPP171012 Trinity College Oxford University Vesta Case.
4. LR260318 Trinity College Cambridge University Vesta Case.
5. AD13121 Silver Gilt Snuff Box, Arms of Dover Cinque Port.
6. SB14 Crested Silver Card Case, Hughes family.
7. TRS240518.590 Gilt Armorial Wine Label, Crest of Crewe - Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe.
8. TRS251115A Goldsmiths Company Wine Label Sherry.
9. 008350.211 Armorial Wine Label, Horseburgh / Horseburgh family, Scotland.
10. TRS151012C Vesta Case, Crest of Christopher Grey Tennant,2nd Baron Glenconner.
11. JH13A Pen/Pencil, crest of Charles Norton Elvin.
12. WW1 Silver Gilt Dental Mirror Crest of Harcourt.

The three lucky winners of the Christmas Puddings were:-

Geoff Shreeves, Peter Straton and Matthew Peppitt.

I do hope that you will find this Newsletter informative and helpful and will allow us send it to you on a regular basis. I would welcome any feedback you may have, both positive and negative.

David W.A. Buck.
Steppes Hill Farm Antiques


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