Royal Marionettes with Live Indians! Punch and Judy Advertisement

Now this is one of the strangest things we’ve come across in all our treasure hunting.


It appears be an advertisement a traveling group of puppet masters from the turn of the last century. The show featured Genuine Indians from the Pawnee Tribe and Chief Kooda. The group under the management of one Harry D’Esta appeared to specialize in Marionettes, Ventriloquism, and Punch and Judy.

For those of you who don’t know Punch and Judy, here’s a brief synopsis from Wikipedia.

Punch and Judy is a traditional, popular puppet show featuring Mr. Punch and his wife, Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically the violent Punch and one other character. It is often associated with traditional English seaside culture.

Swanage_Punch_&_JudyThe show is performed by a single puppeteer inside the booth, known since Victorian times as a “Professor” or “Punchman,” and assisted sometimes by a “Bottler”, who corrals the audience outside the booth, introduces the performance and collects the money (“the bottle”). The Bottler might also play accompanying music or sound effects on a drum or guitar and engage in back chat with the puppets, sometimes repeating the same or the copied lines that may have been difficult for the audience to understand. In Victorian times the drum and pan pipes were the instruments of choice. Today, the audience is also encouraged to participate, calling out to the characters on the stage to warn them of danger, or clue them into what is going on behind their backs. Also nowadays most Professors work solo since the need for a bottler became less important when busking with the show gave way to paid engagements at private parties or public events.

The only actual reference I could find to Harry D’Esta or the Royal Marionettes are here June 29, 1900 – Daily Mail and Empire Article and 1911 – Variety . If any of you know any other detail, please feel free to comment!

Here’s a few more pictures, since I thought you might you like to see the details of the advertisement.20131112-230329.jpg




Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A Pictoreal Chart of American Literature

There’s something magical about acquiring an item that the Library of Congress finds worth preserving and promoting as part of an exhibit. In this case, the item we acquired was a “A Pictorial Chart of American Literature” which was illustrated by Ella Van Wall Leer and compiled by Ethel Earl Wylie for Rand McNally in 1932. It’s a stunning piece with beautiful illustrations of authors and scenes of American life in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


The exact same map was appeared in the “Language of the Land” exhibit at the Library of Congress. Here’s a brief excerpt from the exhibit’s overview page:

From Robert Frost’s New England farms to John Steinbeck’s California valley to Eudora Welty’s Mississippi Delta, authors have described the American landscape to evoke a strong sense of place. They have peopled our land with memorable characters and woven into their works the regional traits of a dynamic culture. Using the metaphor of a journey, Language of the Land: Journey into Literary America examines the following literary heritage though maps, photographs, and the works of American authors from a variety of periods.

Here’s the exhibit’s introdution page on which the map appears. Finally, here’s the coolest part. They’ve actually performed a high resolution scan on their copy of the map. On this Library of Congress Zoom Viewer Page for A Pictorial Chart of American Literature, you can pan and zoom around the map in as much detail as you want.

Fascinating update, this related map of England was featured in the exhibition John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations (see Item #42743

1 Comment

Posted by in Artwork


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The hidden power of smiling

I really enjoyed this light-hearted talk by Ron Gutman on recent scientific research into the physiology and psychology of smiling. It really amazes me how much impact such a simple little act can have.


Tags: , ,