Male Hand Puppet by Bil Baird

Male Hand Puppet by Bil Baird

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Description (Brief)
This puppet is one of a group of characters created by Bil Baird circa 1927-1928 for Miquel Varell. Male figure with strong chin and protruding lower lip is wearing a grey cap, blue jacket, brown vest, black bow tie, gray pants, and brown shoes. His roughly painted and exagerrated features emphasize his gruff demeanor. A beige skirt hangs down at the back for puppeteer's hand and a metal hanging hook is attached to bottom.
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Miquel Varell immigrated to the United States after World War I in search of a better life. Despite a lack of any formal training in the theater, Varell's lifelong love of puppetry inspired him to establish a puppet company based on a European style Grand Guignol, or Punch and Judy, traveling show. But Varell needed someone to create the puppets based on his own specifications. He approached Tony Sarg, his friend and well known puppeteer, to find someone who could create the puppets according to his specifications. Sarg recommended his young apprentice, Bil Baird, to create the puppets for Varell's theater.
Using the puppets provided by Baird, Varell constructed his own portable theater, including stage sets and backgrounds, and performed at schools, clubs, and children's parties. Sadly, his career was short lived. The European style of puppetry, based on expression and moment, was replaced with talking puppets, and Varell spoke only broken English.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
1927 - 1928
Varell, Miquel V.
Baird, Bil
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Associated Place
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 34 cm x 26 cm; 13 3/8 in x 10 1/4 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Lia V. Dingfelder
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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