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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1950-1955 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pelham Puppets Ltd (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved, moulded, painted wood

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Ron Butcher

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Pelham Puppets was a hugely popular British toy making company set up in 1947 by Bob Pelham in Malborough, Wiltshire. From 1947 to the closure of the business in 1993 they made thousands of different characters and ranges of puppets for children including hand and marionette varieties.
Pelham puppets used simple construction methods, materials and influences that reflected the decades in which they were made. Pelham puppets often took influence from popular fairy tales and stories for their puppets. This particular puppet depicts the Duchess, one of the many odd characters taken from Lewis Caroll's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Physical description

Marionette of a female figure (The Duchess) with a solid moulded wooden head (SL series). The body of the puppet is made of more crudely formed blocks of wood (where the costume covers these) and more detailed solid wooden moulded and flesh coloured painted hands and head. All joints can be articulated through metal joints made with hook screws on the arms and small metal plate insets on leg joints. The feet are made of small wooden cylinders and are painted white.
The Duchess' face has made of a solid moulded and carved wood and has been painted as a caricature with over emphasised lips nose and red cheeks . She wears an elaborate padded and decorated headress made of red and blue fabric with a lace detail overlay and the remnants of what appears to be a train / veil. Her dress is made from a machine printed fabric in cream and two shades of blue and has a small repeating diamond pattern. The dress has a train made of a different floral fabric.

The duchess has lost most of her original strings with only one in her back and one on her right arm remaining. Thin cotton has been strung to the sides of the head.There are drilled holes in the hands where operational strings would have been attached.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1950-1955 (made)


Pelham Puppets Ltd (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved, moulded, painted wood


Height: 38 cm, Width: 11.5 cm across body

Object history note

The puppet originally belonged to Dan Curtis (b.1946) who grew up in London Ontario, Canada. Dan passed them on to the donor in 1972.

Descriptive line

Pelham puppet of the Duchess from the Alice in Wonderland series of puppets. Made of jointed wood with string mechanisms and fabric costume. c. 1955


Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys


Museum of Childhood

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