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Set of puppet heads
  • Set of puppet heads
    David Jones, born 1895 - died 1974
  • Enlarge image

Set of puppet heads

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1922-1924 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    David Jones, born 1895 - died 1974 (artist)
    Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved and painted wood

  • Museum number:

    MISC.95&1 to 4-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Museum of Childhood, Creativity Gallery, case 11 []

These toys were made early in David Jones’ career, during the period he spent at the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic, a group of Catholic craftsmen, in Ditchlin, Sussex. The toys are probably the result of Jones’ lessons in woodwork by fellow Guild member, George Maxwell, coach builder and carpenter.

These four puppets are particularly interesting because we know that they were probably based on Eric Gill’s children, Elizabeth, Petra ( who was at one time engaged to Jones), Joanna, and his adopted son, Gordian,. There were many other children living within the Guild who may have enjoyed these toys.

David Jones was best known as a wood-engraver, painter and writer. He is also remembered for his skills in lettering. He met Eric Gill (1882- 1940) in 1921 and was impressed by the work of the Guild which Gill had founded that year. The two artists became close friends and David Jones worked within the Guild for about four years.

Physical description

Four carved wooden puppet heads of three girls and one boy plus a wooden stand. Puppets consist of two sections, the head and shoulder piece and a wooden stake which acts like a handle. The faces are shallowly carved and have hand-painted features and hair. The handle of one puppet (MISC.95:3-1983) has been decorated with red, gold and black paint. On two puppets (MISC.95:1-1983 and MISC.95:3-1983) there are three eyelets through the bottom front and back by which to attach fabric.

MISC.95:1-1983 (Boy Puppet head) blue, white and black eyes, and hair painted yellow with black lines. There are three holes in the front and back shoulder plates. The stick is darkened to a rosy tan.

MISC.95:2-1983 (Girl Puppet head) brown hair and eyes. Above shoulder length hair.

MISC.95:3-1983 (Girl Puppet head) brown hair and eyes. Bobbed hair stops at nape of the neck.

MISC.95:4-1983 (Girl Puppet head) blonde coloured hair and eyes. Shoulder length hair.
MISC.95-1983 (Puppet stand) comprises of four pieces of wood to form of an ionic shaped plinth. The top cross bar has six holes in which the puppet handles slide through and the puppet heads rest upon.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1922-1924 (made)


David Jones, born 1895 - died 1974 (artist)
Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic

Materials and Techniques

Carved and painted wood


Width: 30.3 cm MISC.95-1983 (Puppet stand), Height: 19.7 cm MISC.95-1983 (Puppet stand), Depth: 9.7 cm MISC.95-1983 (Puppet stand), Length: 22 cm MISC.95:1-1983 (Puppet head), Width: 6.3 cm MISC.95:1-1983 (Puppet head), Depth: 4.5 cm MISC.95:1-1983 (Puppet head), Length: 23 cm MISC.95:2-1983 (Puppet head), Width: 7.8 cm MISC.95:2-1983 (Puppet head), Depth: 3.6 cm MISC.95:2-1983 (Puppet head), Length: 28.5 cm MISC.95:3-1983 (Puppet head), Width: 7.2 cm MISC.95:3-1983 (Puppet head), Depth: 3.8 cm MISC.95:3-1983 (Puppet head), Length: 25.8 cm MISC.95:4-1983 (Puppet head), Width: 7.2 cm MISC.95:4-1983 (Puppet head), Depth: 4.3 cm MISC.95:4-1983 (Puppet head)

Object history note

Purchased from Anthony d'Offay. Items from Hague Estate.

Descriptive line

Four carved wooden puppet heads of four children (three girls, one boy) and an accompanying stand made in England by David Jones in the 1920s

Production Note

Made by David Jones (1895-1974) for the children of Eric Gill and probably representing these children (three daughters, Elizabeth, Petra and Joanna, and his adopted son, Gordian).




Carved; Painting

Subjects depicted



Children & Childhood; Puppetry

Production Type



Museum of Childhood

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