Punch Hand Puppet

Punch Hand Puppet

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Description (Brief)
This hand puppet, one of Bil Baird's early creations, was made between 1926-1927 for Miquel Varell. A character from the classic Punch and Judy show, this clown is hand carved from wood with strong features, including a wide grin, a large nose, and a pointed chin, that have been carefully painted. He is dressed in a red, blue, black, and yellow diamond patterned suit, a white velvet hat and carved green shoes. A metal hanging hook and a sleeve or short skirt is attached to the back off the figure used for the puppeteers hand.
This puppet is one of a group of characters Baird created for Miquel Varell. 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, Bill
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: 43 cm x 32 cm; 16 15/16 in x 12 5/8 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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