Mr. Bones Skeleton Marionette

Description (Brief)
Mr. Bones is one of the earliest puppets in the Museum's collection. This oversized skeleton marionette is made of painted wood, and operates with 9 strings on three bars. Bones is thought to be part of an unusual marionette/ minstrel show said to have been staged on a showboat traveling up and down the Mississippi River between 1850-1875. Showboats offered a variety of entertainments, including both comedy, and music to working class Americans in urban and rural areas.
This disassembling skeleton, appeared along with a group of marionettes that included Mr.Tambo, a horse skeleton, and a white policeman. A common form of entertainment, the popular minstrel show is considered to be the first uniquely American form of entertainment that featured white people parodying African Americans. The rest of the show featured songs, dances and other variety acts, and ended with a short skit. It was rare, however, that this popular amusement involved puppetry.
Currently not on view
Date made
place made
United States
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
string (overall material)
overall: 30 in; 76.2 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Hazelle H. and J. Woodson Rollins
Unlinked Subject
Unlinked Subject
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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