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Punch and Judy Show: C.873-1984

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 27 (Glaisher)


Punch and Judy Show


Unidentified factory




White earthenware figure group press-moulded in three parts and lead glazed. Painted underglaze in cobalt blue and in black, brown, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and flesh-pink enamels and gilt.

Two children flank a Punch and Judy booth, where Judy is holding the baby. The figure is well coloured. The children have black hair and wear blue bodices. On the left, the girl wears a pale green skirt decorated with pink and red sprigs and spots; she has black shoes and carries an orange sash on her right arm. On the right, the boy wears a skirt edged in green and pink, an orange cloak, black boots and a hat with a pink feather; he holds a round orange container; a yellow mouth-organ hangs beneath his chin. Judy and the baby have white hair; she wears a blue bodice. There is gilt decoration on the clothes. The booth is white at the bottom and orange at the top, and trimmed with two pink-edged frills. The oval base is moulded to suggest rough ground on top. The sides and top of the base are painted mustard and brown, with an orange object lying in the centre. The underside is concave and glazed, with a central vent hole. The back is flat.


History note: From the collection of the late Colonel R.G. Turner. Given by Mrs J E Campbell, 1984.

Legal notes

Given by Mrs J.E.Cameron, from the collection of Col. R.G.Turner, 1984

Measurements and weight

Depth: 5.5 cm
Depth: 2.125 in
Height: 22.2 cm
Height: 8.75 in
Width: 14.8 cm
Width: 5.75 in

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1984) by Cameron, J.E., Mrs


19th Century, Mid#
Circa 1850 CE - Circa 1865 CE


Punch and Judy is a traditional puppet show featuring the characters of Mr Punch and his wife, Judy. Derived from the Italian comedia del arte, the first records of Mr Punch in England date from c.1660. Originally a marionette performance, by Victorian times ‘Punch and Judy’ had become a popular glove-puppet show, performed from a portable booth by a single puppeteer. These shows travelled from town to town, and were particularly popular at the seaside. Punch is a hook-nosed, hump-backed figure whose high pitched, squeaky voice is produced through the use of a ‘swazzle’ or squeaker. The plots vary, but typically involve Punch attacking the other characters, who generally include his wife Judy, their baby, a hungry crocodile and a policeman, with a truncheon and a string of sausages amongst the props.

The flat shape and undecorated back, combined with the use of underglaze blue, indicate that this model was probably made around 1850-65. There were many manufacturers of figures working in Staffordshire at this time. Sampson Smith at Longton, one of the larger ones, is listed in contemporary directories as a ‘manufacturer of figures in great variety’; production began around 1851, and figures were made in quantity into the early part of the twentieth century. Sampson Smith figures typically have a flat back, but the model may equally well have been made at another workshop.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( black, brown, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and flesh-pink) underglaze cobalt-blue gold

Materials used in production

White earthenware

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : White earthenware press-moulded in three parts and lead glazed. Painted underglaze in cobalt blue and in black, brown, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and flesh-pink enamels and gilt. The underside is concave and glazed, with a central vent hole. The back is flat.

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: A closed ‘V’ ? underglaze in thick blue

  • Text: V
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in blue underglaze
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: reverse ‘N’ (or ‘Z’) in red enamel

  • Text: reverse 'N' or 'Z'
  • Location: Underside of base
  • Method of creation: Painted in red enamel
  • Type: Mark

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.873-1984
Primary reference Number: 76266
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Punch and Judy Show" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-25 01:26:04

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{{cite web|url= |title=Punch and Judy Show |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-25 01:26:04|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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