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Not currently on display at the V&A

Punch and Judy

Puppet Booth
ca. 1912 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This booth was made by Punch and Judy performer Gus Wood, in about 1912. He travelled with this booth in its accompanying canvas bag for 50 years, giving shows alongside his assistant Bimbo.

The booth, made of wood, metal and striped canvas, also includes Wood’s cast of puppets, and a range of accessories that suggest a noisy, lively puppet show.

Bimbo, the ‘bottler’, would wear the black silk opera hat and attract a crowd using the drum and pan pipes. Once the show started, Gus Wood could look out through a slit in the canvas to watch the reactions of the crowd.

Punch and Judy is an improvised theatrical form, based around a conventional storyline. So each Punch performer would have used the same characters – Punch, Judy, the Baby, the Policeman, Doctor, Hangman, Crocodile etc – but performed the narrative differently.

Gus Wood had two special sound effects as part of his show. The interminable cries of the baby that annoy Punch so much were created by a deflating rubber balloon, and the frightening advance of the crocodile would be accompanied by the turning of a metal grater.

Gus Wood used this booth for fifty years, until he retired in 1962. The same year, he celebrated Punch’s 300th anniversary in Covent Garden, and collected signatures from all the performers in attendance on his drum.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 39 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Frame
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Hand Puppet
  • Snare Drum
  • Leaflet
  • Backdrop
  • Bag
  • Bag
  • Shoe
  • Can
  • Case
  • Gallows
  • Frying Pan
  • Spoon
  • Rolling Pin
  • Sticks
  • Fishing Line
  • Fish
  • Figure
  • Coffin
  • Model
  • Accessory
  • Sausages
  • Model
  • Opera Hat
  • Flute
  • Grater
  • Base
  • Stage
  • Proscenium
  • Curtains
  • Curtains
  • Proscenium
  • Proscenium
  • Backdrop
Materials and Techniques
Carved wood and other material
Brief Description
A collapsible Punch and Judy Booth with puppets and accessories, England, about 1912
Physical Description
A collapsible Punch and Judy Booth with puppets and accessories. There are ten puppets in total: Punch, Judy, the Baby, the Crocodile, the Constable, the Executioner, the Ghost, Dr Sawbones, Uncle Joe and Joey the clown.



The booth is a metal and wooden frame covered with blue and white striped tent canvas, with a blue cotton fringe. There is a slit in the canvas 10-15cm below the playboard. The arch around stage is of metal and wood, painted in shades of green to resemble marble. The wooden playboard is partly painted white. The draw curtain is green/blue corduroy with gold coloured fringe hung from a rail. The drop curtain is dark blue, and features words 'Punch His Palace' in white. It is worked by lowering and raising cord in front left-hand corner. Both curtains are worked by pulling white cords in the front left-hand corner. A large canvas case contains the booth when dismantled.



Punch has a wooden head, brightly painted with red cheeks, nose and chin. The wooden hands are painted pink, legs are black and yellow. The hair is made of fur. Punch's cap is made of red cotton damask and trimmed with white and yellow braid, with two pearl buttons and a metal and glass circular brooch. Punch's body is made of yellow, red and blue fabric with red sleeves, trimmed with yellow braid, and a hump attached. He wears a gathered white cotton ruff around his neck, trimmed with blue, yellow and red braid.



Judy has a wooden head painted pink with painted features, and wooden hands painted pink. She wears a white cotton cap with pink ribbons. Red printed cotton dress trimmed with lace at the collar and cuffs, and a white cotton apron trimmed with yellow braid. The glove is lined with tent canvas.



The baby is a Dutch wooden doll, missing its right arm. It is painted and is wearing a white cotton dress with lace and pink ribbon.



The Constable has a wooden head painted pink, with painted features and hair made of fur, and wooden hands painted yellow. The puppet wears a navy-blue woollen hat with yellow and white braid. Shoulder cape of red felt with yellow braid, over a gown of dark blue wool trimmed with yellow braid. Jacket front of red and black felt, blue tie, and six pearl buttons. Metal whistle on chain.



Joey has a wooden head painted yellow, with hair of fur. White cotton ruffs at neck and hem of shirt and skirt, trimmed with red, yellow and blue braid. White cotton shirt of white cotton lined with tent canvas.



Uncle Joe has a wooden head painted black, with painted features, and hair made of fur. Printed cotton shirt with red and yellow trim and four pearl buttons. Trousers made of blue and white striped cotton. Glove of cotton and green velvet.



Master Harwood has a wooden head and hands painted pink, with hair of fur. Wearing a white tie, black woollen gown and gloves trimmed with white braid.



The crocodile has a green painted wooden head with black, brown and white eyes, red inside mouth and white teeth. Glove body is made of green cotton. The top of the head and the glove are covered with sequins.



Dr. Sawbones has a wooden head and hands painted pink, hair made of fur. Wearing a white tie, blue woollen gown with red felt trim and eight pearl buttons.



The ghost has a wooden head and hands painted cream with black features. Hands are pink, gown is white cotton, wearing a white scarf.



Snare drum, round wood and metal frame with stretched skin. The underside is signed with several different inks.



Hangman's gibbet, wood, painted green with a rope. Metal bar for attaching to the playboard.



The baby's cry is made using a green balloon attached to a piece of wood painted red, pink, yellow and green. Balloon is inflated through a hole in the wood, and when the air escapes sound can be fluctuated by placing finger over the hole.



There is a leaflet of ivory-coloured paper, folded into folio, printed in dark green and orange. A print on the front depicts the booth's triumphal arch, the title and Wood's address. The centre spread promotes the Punch and Judy show and gives a list of the characters. The back summarises his services.
Dimensions
  • Booth height: 2489mm
  • Booth width: 1219mm
  • Booth depth: 876mm
  • Punch height: 768mm
  • Judy height: 565mm
  • Baby height: 229mm
  • Joey height: 559mm
  • Uncle joe height: 559mm
  • Master harwood height: 483mm
  • Crocodile height: 483mm
  • Dr. sawbones height: 483mm
  • Ghost height: 483mm
  • Drum height: 127mm
  • Drum diameter: 381mm
  • Gibbet height: 304mm
  • Hat height: 17cm (Maximum)
  • Hat length: 32cm (Maximum)
  • Hat width: 26cm (Maximum)
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Saint Pauls Church Covent Garden 26 May 1962 Percy Press John Cooman(?), Llandudno Tom Coombs, Canterbury Hugh Cecil, New Malden Professor John Stafford, Paignton, Goodrington Roger Alebridge, London Dustini, Shropshire Wem (Shrewsbury) Billy Llewellyn, Darlington Glyn Edwards, Kingston Upon Thames Clown Jimmy, ICCC, 11 Bishop Road, Hunstanton, Norfolk Ernest Busbane, Swanage, Dorset J W Martindale, West Hartlepool, Co. Durham T Lumnie, South Ficht, Bourne End Gus Wood, London 1912 to 1962 Clarence May Arthur Hambling, Maidenhead Ian Goodell, Hemel Hempstead P Goodell – “ – R Cochlan, Liverpool Ian(?) Baines (?) Norman, Carshalton Uncle Steve Gawley, Worthing Prof. Lenware, Harrow Clown C. Tomkins, Kington Surrey Piet Tovenaal(?), London Joe Bechy, London (On underside of drum, each name is signed in a different handwriting in a list of two columns.)
  • 'For Your Children's Party. Gus Wood's Up-to-date Punch and Judy The Children's Favourite Musical and Novelty Clowns, Conjuring, Ventriloquism, etc.' (Printed on front of leaflet)
Credit line
Given by Gus Wood
Object history
Wood used a piece of fabric or oilcloth hanging on the front of the booth to advertise his services. Next to a profile picture of Punch, was inscribed: 'For your childrens party, Gus Woods up-to-date Punch & Judy'
Production
used between 1912 - 1962 by Mr Gus Wood
Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
This booth was made by Punch and Judy performer Gus Wood, in about 1912. He travelled with this booth in its accompanying canvas bag for 50 years, giving shows alongside his assistant Bimbo.



The booth, made of wood, metal and striped canvas, also includes Wood’s cast of puppets, and a range of accessories that suggest a noisy, lively puppet show.



Bimbo, the ‘bottler’, would wear the black silk opera hat and attract a crowd using the drum and pan pipes. Once the show started, Gus Wood could look out through a slit in the canvas to watch the reactions of the crowd.



Punch and Judy is an improvised theatrical form, based around a conventional storyline. So each Punch performer would have used the same characters – Punch, Judy, the Baby, the Policeman, Doctor, Hangman, Crocodile etc – but performed the narrative differently.



Gus Wood had two special sound effects as part of his show. The interminable cries of the baby that annoy Punch so much were created by a deflating rubber balloon, and the frightening advance of the crocodile would be accompanied by the turning of a metal grater.



Gus Wood used this booth for fifty years, until he retired in 1962. The same year, he celebrated Punch’s 300th anniversary in Covent Garden, and collected signatures from all the performers in attendance on his drum.

Collection
Accession Number
MISC.19-1968

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record createdMay 5, 2004
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