We are excited to announce that this February we will be offering an internationally important collection of puppets, collected by one of the world’s leading puppet masters John Blundall, at auction. The sale, to be held in Edinburgh on 28 February 2018, will consist of around 100 lots of fascinating pieces from around the world.
Charlotte Rostek, Head of Lyon & Turnbull’s Glasgow office said, “Through his lifelong passion in puppetry John Michael Blundall (1937-2014) amassed a superlative collection, both in qualitative and quantitative terms spanning centuries and countries of puppetry traditions across the globe. One of the country’s, if not the world’s leading designers, makers and performers of puppet theatre Blundall made characters not only for television but also for his own theatre in Birmingham.”
A highly respected figure on an international stage he had access to some of the world’s best known puppeteers and collectors allowing him to build up an enormous international archive of puppets and puppet theatre-related material. Nearly four years after his untimely death in Glasgow a selection of this collection will be sold.
The sale will cover Blundall’s puppets for television such as ‘Parker’, from Gerry Anderson’s 1960s futuristic animation TV series Thunderbirds (estimated at £5,000-7,000 + fees); a group of screen-used figures from Fireball XL5, another 1960's smash hit TV show, with ‘Plant Man’ estimated at £1,500-2,000. There will also be marionettes crafted for his own productions as well as high quality reproductions of some of the world’s most esteemed puppeteers’ work.
Blundall also managed to give a home to the largest surviving group of marionettes from the famous 19th century Tiller-Clowes family troupe who operated from 1873 until WWI. This group comprises more than half of a collection which surfaced in 1945 and was subsequently split, with one half being donated to the V&A. Trick figures, such as stretching clowns, disjointed skeletons and metamorphic scenery sets are joined by charming marionettes of giants, sailors, devils, donkeys, ladies and gentlemen all of whom retain their original costumes. Leading figures from the British puppetry world, such as H. W. Whanslaw, Waldo Lanchester, Joe de Randel Hodgson and Jan Bussell are represented through various quality puppets.
Two exceptional English 19th century Punch figures will lead a cast of Punch & Judy hand puppets accompanied by a variety of Punch & Judy paraphernalia including Punch & Judy door stops, tiny pendants and jewellery moulds.
A collection of Japanese Noh Masks including one carved by Ujiharu Nagasawa valued at £8,00-1,200, a group of Japanese woodblock prints, as well as Japanese Bunraku figures will feature.
The international puppetry ranges from a Sri Lankan snake charmer, Vietnamese water puppets, Burmese Yakspina Ogres, African toe-jigging puppets, figures from an important Chinese dynasty of puppet masters, puppets from a range of central European countries and a remarkable string marionette portrait figure of Anna Pavlova in the role of ‘Papillon’ (1881-1931), one of the most famous ballerinas of all time (estimated at £500-700 + fees).
An archive of 19th Century toy theatres, some rare books, prints and engravings and photographs complete the magical diversity of this collection.