Ventriloquist's dummy is among collection set to fetch up to £8,000
Speak no evil! Terrifying ventriloquist’s dummy pictured with its ‘owner’ in the 1920s is among husband and wife’s collection of more than 20 dolls set to fetch up to £8,000 at auction
- Dummy is part of a collection of more than 20 owned by Abigail Winfield, 61
- The Devon-based mother-of-three began collecting them in the late 1980s
A terrifying ventriloquist’s dummy that comes with a picture of it with its original owner has emerged for sale as part of a huge collection.
The freckled, red-lipped figure, which is dressed up in smartly in a shirt and tie and is believed to date from the 1920s, is among more than 20 dummies collected by Abigail Winfield, 61, from Barnstaple, Devon.
The dolls are collectively set to fetch up to £8,000 at the end of this month when they are sold at Charterhouse Auctioneers and Valuers in Sherborne, Dorset.
Mrs Winfield, who lives with her husband Shaun, is selling the collection because she has no space to display them after downsizing.
She began collecting the dummies as an adult in the late 1980s after being given one when she was a child.
A terrifying ventriloquist’s dummy that comes with a picture of it with its original owner has emerged for sale as part of a huge collection. The freckled, red-lipped figure, which is dressed up in smartly in a shirt and tie and is believed to date from the 1920s, is among more than 20 dummies collected by Abigail Winfield, 61, from Barnstaple, Devon
The dummy is seen back in its heyday with a smartly dressed performer, who likely used it in a stage act
The dummies all have their own clothes and some have painted faces and even their original receipts from when they were first bought.
One, which depicts an old lady wearing a pair of slippers, cost 18 shillings in 1933.
Mrs Winfield began collecting the dummies in the late 1980s, buying them from antique shops and later online.
The artist, who has three grown-up children and one grandchild, said: ‘I had one when I was a child.
‘I just really like them. I started collecting them as an adult when I had my own money.
‘The earliest ones are from around 1900 to 1910 and they stretch to the 1930s.’
Admitting that ‘a lot of people hate them’, Mrs Winfield said she likes their faces ‘and the way they move, and the fact you can make them talk.’
‘I like the fact they are a miniature human,’ she added.
‘They have all got stories behind them. They have all had previous lives. They have been used for interesting things.
‘They almost seem like they are real but they are not. I used to have them sitting round the room, they all had their own chairs.’
Stunned auctioneer Richard Bromell said he had seen around five ventriloquist’s dummies in his three-decade career before coming across Mrs Winfield’s collection.
He told BBC Radio Solent Dorset: ‘They are just strange.
Mrs Winfield is pictured with her favourite dummy, which depicts an old woman with a shawl and slippers
The dummies are being sold at Charterhouse Auctioneers and Valuers in Sherborne, Dorset, on August 31
‘They are not going to be the most expensive thing I have ever sold at Charterhouse, they are not the oldest things, but they are just completely captivating.
‘It’s the sort of thing that I didn’t know I might like to own a ventriloquist dummy, until I’ve seen these.
‘And now I’ve got the opportunity, I am not sure the wife is going to be particularly pleased if I come back with one, although maybe I could be the dummy for a change.’
Although originally a religious practice, acts featuring ventriloquism – which would see a performer create the illusion that their voice is coming from elsewhere – emerged as a form of entertainment in Britain in the 18th century.
Say cheese! A dummy wearing a bow tie and with thick black eyebrows painted on to its face i seen with other dolls
Mrs Winfield’s favourite dummy, an old lady with a shawl and slippers, is seen with other figures from her collection
Acts incorporating dummies or puppets became hugely popular in music halls and other venues around Britain.
In the 1950s and 1960s there were around 400 full-time ventriloquists working in the UK.
However, according to expert estimates, that number had dwindled to just 15 by the early 2000s.
Famous British ventriloquist Ray Alan performed on TV with dummies including Lord Charles and Ali Kat in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Comedian Nina Conti is one of the few well-known performers who incorporates ventriloquism into her stage act.
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