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.
Location
Currently not on view
Date made
1860
place made
United States
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
string (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 30 in; 76.2 cm
ID Number
1979.1164.02
accession number
1979.1164
catalog number
1979.1164.02
Credit Line
Gift of Hazelle H. and J. Woodson Rollins
subject
Unlinked Subject
Unlinked Subject
Puppetry
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Puppets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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