Traveling Puppet Show, ca. 1875

Value (2012) | $12,000 Retail$14,000 Retail

GUEST:
My great-great-great-grandfather had a traveling show, and these are some of the items from his show. He liked to go by the name Professor Towne. His name was Phineas D. Towne. He lived in Monroeton, Pennsylvania, and he would do these shows throughout Pennsylvania, from what I understand.

APPRAISER:
And he was popular enough that he had posters announcing that he was coming to town.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
These puppets were made lovingly by Professor Towne, and he did these in order to earn a living, and he also did this in order to educate children. Some of these were Biblical. Monroeton is, I believe, in the middle of Pennsylvania, all the way up near Elmira, New York.

GUEST:
You're exactly right, about 40 miles below, uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
So he was traveling in some pretty rural areas.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And I'm thinking around the 1850 time frame.

GUEST:
I would have said maybe a little later, 1860, 1870.

APPRAISER:
All of these puppets are hand-made, they're carved wood heads…

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
…and they all have movement to them. Many of them would have been possibly attached to strings like marionettes.

GUEST:
Yes, some of the hands actually have the hole.

APPRAISER:
And he probably had several stories that he told with this group of puppets.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
This pony is just really wonderful, and you can see this is not a one-trick pony, this is a two-trick pony. The audience would think, "Wow, he has two horses in the show, not just one." This one is my favorite, because it's this wonderful little girl, and then later in the show, he could flip this up, and you have a hot air balloon.

GUEST:
A great imagination.

APPRAISER:
Great imagination. On a retail value, I would put the grouping at somewhere in the $12,000 to $14,000 range.

GUEST:
Oh, okay, okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Allan Katz Americana
Woodbridge, CT
Appraised value (2012)
$12,000 Retail$14,000 Retail
Event
Boston, MA (June 09, 2012)
Period
19th Century
Form
Animal, Puppet
Material
Paint, Wood

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