Coin Cases

I now have in stock Air-Tite brand coin holders for your Hall of Fame Coins.  Air Tite Coin Holders (right) are used by coin collectors, dealers and even mints.  Air Tite gives you a quality individual holder that guards against air contamination for your coins.   The holders and rings are free of PVC for safer coin storage. The cover and base are made of clear acrylic plastic and snap together easily (coin is visible from both sides). The ring secures the coin in the holder, preventing movement, and the black color adds an eye-catching accent to the coin’s presentation.   Only $5.00 for a set of four 34mm holders (without coins). 

For my personal Hall of Fame coin collection, I plan to use a Dansco Coin Binder.   Dansco has manufactured fine quality coin albums and binders for serious coin collectors since 1937. They are built for both professional and novice coin collectors who want the best for their collection. Dansco uses the finest materials and craftsmanship in the constructions of its coin albums including acetate covered coin ports to protect both sides of the display. The simulated leather binder includes a two post design for easy page additions.   Blank extra pages allow you to modify and upgrade your album as you see fit.
Loose-leaf hinged pages (as pictured here) are plastic coated and washable. Ports sized to hold  Hall of Fame Coins securely and covered with acetate slides to protect both sides of coin. Coins are visible from both sides of the page.  This is a display Binder you will be proud to own.  $30.00 for complete Dansco Binder Set: Album Binder with two pages (each page will hold twelve 34mm Hall of Fame Coins) and Binder Slipcover (below).  (Additional pages available.)

Mr. D's Blog Special:  Purchase one Dansco Binder Set ($30.00) along with one 2012-B (Set Two) Hall of Fame Coins ($30.00) and I will include one 2012-A (Set One) Hall of Fame Coins FREE!  (Plus $5.00 shipping per order.)  mahertalk@aol.com


Shop Talk

Here he is finished, ears in place as well as hair.
Looking good!

As you may remember, this fellow came to me with one ear missing and only half the other.   I did a total replacement - not a "transplant" nor a "graft" - I created new (the correct medical term eludes me, possibly because there is none).  If you study the two pictures closely, you will see that I also rebuilt the underside of the mouth so the wide "gap" each time the mout is opened has been eliminated.


1997 Vegas Convention Memorabilia Sale

Jeff Dunham Show Souvenir Ticket, and Gala Show Souvenir ticket, "JOKES, YOLKS, & ANECDOTES" Breakfast Brunch Ticket.

 Gala Show Program (Show featured: Jay Johnson, Ronn Lucas, Valentine Vox, Lynn Trefzeger, Joel Leder, Sammy King, and Paul Winchell).;Vegas Visitor Magazine, May 1997 (Willie Tyler, Jeff Dunham, Lynn Trefzeger, Valentine Vox cover); Entertainment Today Magazine Cover which featured Valentine Vox.

Plus all 7 DAILY BULLETINS! All in packaged in the original yellow convention attendees folder. History, trivia, photos, and more..here:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290719917933

Maher Graduate

Shirley Coe completed her study of the Maher Course this month.  For her required completion performance, she used her Danny O'Day vent figure and "Farfel" puppet to perform a Nestles' Quick Commercial reenactment for the attendees of the Old Timer's Radio and Nostalgia Convention (Cincinnati, Ohio).  Maybe if we're lucky, she'll perform the same routine at the Vent Haven ConVention this July.  It appears from the photo Sue sent me (right), her pals are ready to go!

Shirley told us:  "I enjoyed all of the lessons.  They were very informative and well written.  I never thought I could be a ventriloquist before taking these lessons!  I friend of mine got me interested and mentioned the lessons.  I'm so glad he did!  I have performed several times now and feel much more confident and skilled, thanks to the Maher Home Course!"



Thank you for your service!


Ventriloquism opens another door!

From Bill Matthews:

On my way home from a meeting in NJ this weekend, I stopped and went to a pastor's fellowship where I was scheduled to preach. Of course when I got there, everyone wanted to know if I had Larry with me. Of course I did, and the host pastor had me do a routine with him. Well, because of Larry, I got a meeting booked for THIS Sunday! They're having a special service and wanted something entertaining, so the pastor asked me to come and do junior church and a routine during the afternoon fellowship. In a few months he'll have me back to actually present our mission. That happens a lot. Ventriloquism opens a lot of doors for me and gives me plenty of opportunities to share the Good News, as well as make people smile and laugh.
Thank you, Clinton, for your help and influence over the years.
*   *   *    *    *
From Mr. D:  I have to tell you, Bill, your comments are music to my ears! And an encouragement to my heart!


Another Question of Identity

Question:  Can you identify the builder of one of the figures in this photo?   The figure on the right is a Davenport [Insull] of course.  The small one is a very small Frank Marshall figure. Can you tell me who built the one in the blue at the back? I had the name Craig Lovik in my head...but I don't really know. It appears to be made of some kind of hard plastic - it has moving eyes and mouth.  What kind of value would a figure like this have these days?  John
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  The figure you refer to is a "Theodore Bump" figure made by Craig Lovik. The head and hands are rigid latex. It was one of Craig's more popular figures. He even published two children's books with that figure as the main character. One was titled, "Theodore Bump, What's In Your Trunk?" (I don't remember the other title.) Value these days? Wow - that's a difficult question. $450-$550???


Mark Wade Writes

Matching up the right puppet character for you and your audience  is one important aspect that I feel a lot of vents overlook when preparing for a show.  I am a true believer that "one puppet does not fit all audiences", and I will try to elaborate for you.

As a kidshow vent I am acutely aware of matching up the right puppet for my young crowd.  I once had a bully puppet made that had a sneer on his face.  I gave him a demanding, gruff voice and in a word, it scared the heck out of kindergarten audiences.  I thought "Maybe it's the voice!", so I changed the voice to make it a bit less intense and softer.  Nope, the puppet still scared the kids.  So I dropped this puppet from the show, went to a more friendly looking "bully" (did that make sense?), and the kids responded much, much better.  I had failed to match up the right puppet for the audience.

I also make sure for kidshows that the puppets that are animals don't have sharp looking teeth.  I give all my characters human, more square looking dentures.  It give the puppet a "softer", non-threatening look.

I know of a lovely female vent who uses a girl puppet that is in a word, scary!  The puppet has rough features, a big squarish head, and really looks like a guy puppet dressed as a female.  I have seen this vent perform and her performances could be so much better received if only she would look at matching up the right puppet that works for her and the audience.  Unfortunately, this vent will not change..so she is setting herself up for just so-so responses from her audiences.  That's really too bad!

Please take the time to study what you do and what kind of puppets would best match up with your audiences and shows. Let's make the performing easier on you and more enjoyable for those who watch us!
Mark   markwade@kidshowvent.com
*  *  *  *  *
Note from Mr. D:  Mark Wade will be one of the four vents featured in the 2012-B set of Hall of Fame coins due to be released in about 2 weeks.  I'm accepting advance reserve orders now.



Question:  Do you still sell the Ventrilo-etts figures if so how much would the Silver Robot one sell for?  Philip
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Of all the novelty puppets I've built over the years, I enjoyed building none more than the Ventrilo-etts.  Unfortunately, I could never sell them at a price that fairly represented the labor involved.  That's the only reason I do not continue to build them - sorry, but thank you for asking.  You have great taste!

Repair and upgrade services

 From Allen Fuller

I recalled reading on your blog (9/8/11) about your son Kevin's upgrade services.  Since I had finally decided to have my Simon Sez upgraded, I contacted him and he agreed to take on the project.  It has been completed.
Kevin did fantastic work.  Simon looks even better than I had
anticipated. Thanks for the information about Kevin's service. 

When I perform for small children, I will most likely use Simon since I kept him at the 30 inch size.  For some reason, I have never liked working with soft figures/puppets.
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Yes, Kevin does oustanding work - better than his Dad, from my perspective!  If anyone reading this has a figure needing upgrade or repair, you can contact Kevin at: animatedpuppets@charter.net


John Pizzi AGT

Did you miss John Pizzi on America's Got Talent last night?  Watch it here:



Are you wanting to be a better ventriloquist? Do you like Axtell Puppets? Do you want to be the next Terry Fator? Guess what!?   Terry Fator himself wants to send YOU to VENT HAVEN this summer, so he's set up a SCHOLARSHIP and Axtell is offering you a FREE PUPPET ! Find out more info here! http://www.terryfator.com/scholarship.html

Why is Terry making this very generous offer?  In his own words: "Throughout my career, there were times when I wanted to go to the Vent Haven ConVENTion, but couldn't simply because I couldn't afford to. Because of this, I would like to give back to the Vent community by offering up scholarships to help two deserving ventriloquists who may not have a chance to go because of financial reasons. Apply for your chance to the right, and good luck!"

Perhaps this is a good time for me to announce that Terry Fator is one of the four ventriloquists I am featuring on the next set of Hall of Fame Coins to be released soon after the first of June.  I am taking pre-order reservations: mahertalk@aol.com  (No money until shipped.)

And the generosity of Steve Axtell has not escaped my notice...I wonder where I have his coin scheduled?  I may just have to move him up the list!  :-)


'ears to ya!

Once again, he is able to hear!


Great suggestion!

From Andy Mrkvicka:

I wanted to send you a picture of my coins in their airtite holders.  These are very cheap to buy (I bought 10 for about 5 bucks!).   They completely protect the coins and look great! I can't wait until you announce the next set! I would recommend these holders to everyone - especially to avoiding scuffs and scratches for those who may keep one in their pocket!


Jerry Mahoney rubber band replacement

Question:I have a Juro Jerry Mahoney 32" with moving eyes, mouth and head. I need to figure out ho to restring and rubber band. I just need to now where the rubber band and string goes and I will do the rest.
*  *  *   *  *
From Mr. D: The mouth rubber band was only about 1/2" long. It hooked to the wire on the top/rear of the mouth and stretched (over the axle bar) to the bracket on the back inside of the neck. This was done at the factory before that neck bracket was glued permanently in place, so there's no practical way to hook a replacement onto the neck bracket in exactly the same manner. I've tried coneecting with screw eyes, glue, etc. What works best for me is to completely remove the old plastic bracket (dremel grinder) and replace it with a new unit of my own creation (a block of wood with a couple strategicly placed screw eyes, glued to the neck with super glue).
The mouth string ran from the mouth directly back and through (up and over) the hole provided in the plastic bracket extension on the back of the neck and then down through the hole in the base of the neck.

The eye rubber band hooked to the wire loop in the connecting "tie" bar and then stretched to the base bracket under one of the eyes. It pulled the eyes so they looked to the figure's left I believe. The string ran horizontally from the same connecting bar to the opposite side of the head where there is a small plastic crossbar which the string was threaded over before moving downward through the base of the neck.


Bonus Gems!

Because I'm not sure what else to do with them, and I certainly do not want to throw them away, I am adding 25 mostly loose mimeographed pages of VENT-O-GRAMs from the early 1960's to my Vent Newsletter "Variety Pack" eBay auction: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290714421772 

There are some gems to be found on these pages:

You will find excerpts from an visit with Edgar Bergen by Dave Erskine; excerpts from a visit with Max Terhune by Fred Ketch; a mention of Tommy Atkins (Mrs. Ruth A. Buckley) by Charles Hook;

Peter Rich explains how to do the drinking bit; A Vent Crossword by Greg Berlin; a full page Finis and Co. ad for figures (with photos);   Spotlight features on Senor Wences and Howie Olson;

Dialogue "One Thing and Another" by I. V. Norman; Barber Shop Script by John W. Cooper (incomplete); "What's the Use?" short dialogue by Charles Hook;

How To Use A Spectator as a Dummy by Bob Brethen;

Ventsville, a report on vent happenings as Abbott's 30th Get-Together by Dan Gardner;
and more...

Winchell/Mahoney Bio

What a fascinating feature story (4 pgs) from the 1955 Dec. issue of Cornet magazine: The Man Behind the Dummy.  The publishers of the magazine gave this teaser line, "Out of a block of wood, Paul Winchell carved a career for himself."  However, the article comes short of actually quoting Paul as to who built Jerry.  What the writer does say is this,  "Unlike the ventriloquists who have their dummies built for them, Paul builds his own, for he started out in life to be a scultor.  The Winchell worksroom is a fantastic place full or arms, legs, and heads of Jerry.  Here are developed new techniques to bring Jerry to life."
If you are a Winchell fan, and have not read this piece, now is your chance to add it to your collection!
My eBay auction is for the actual Cornet magazine pages with the full article (not a copy):

Cartoon Legs and Feet

Question:  I live in Florida and want to be able to dress my figures in appropriate clothing (shorts, short sleeve shirts, flip flops).  A vent told me that he purchased a pair of Cartoon legs and feet from you.  Do you still make these ?  Terry
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  A few years ago we did sell bare feet for figures.  The feet were made by Lovik, but I don't have access to anything like that now.   I do have a pair of bare feet in my shop now (see picture) that I purchased from Braylu.  I plan to use them on a 34" figure.  They would not be considered "cartoon" feet, but they are designed to fit inside a normal shoe - nice feature.  You might also check with Tim Cowles.  I think I recently saw a picture of a pair of bare feet he made or was selling.


For Sale

88 COMEDY NURSERY RHYMES and POEMS FOR ADULTS - By Col. Bill Boley.  Pick a few of your favorites and add them to your vent act. Boley's first book, Fractured Nursery Rhymes, was hugely popular, and this sequel was written due to fans' request for more. As the title implies the collection does contain several with "adult theme", however many are appropriate for any audience, including the kids.
One copy only:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290715037562

Vent Newsletter Lot (one only)

VENTRILOQUIST NEWSLETTER MISC. VARIETY PACK! 13 DIFFERENT; 1938-1992 LOOK! You know there are some rare finds in this "baker’s dozen" lot. Enjoy! Very Good condition on all unless noted otherwise.  See eBay listing for photos.

I've also listed each newsltter individually on the eBay listing:

Puppet Fusion Question

Question: I found a nice one at a second hand store. I'm thinking about turning him into a rod puppet or a marionette. I have info on the latter. But nothing on working a  rod puppet.  My Course has a little on it! But I didn't see anything on working two arms yet! Do you have any advice?   Randy Sunart
*  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  Am I correct to understand you have a ventriloquist doll you are wanting to convert to a rod puppet or marionette?  I don't know anyone who has done that, but the newer Goldberger dolls have arms and legs loosely jointed.  I would guess they could be strung to be used as a marionette.  You would like need to weight the feet in some manner.
Dan Horn (year unknown)

Ventriloquists often fasten an elbow rod to one arm of the figure so the arm next to the ventriloquist can be animated.   And I have heard from vents who were going to try to fasten one rod to each wrist of a vent figure so the could try to manipulate both arms together, rod-puppet style.  But I have not heard from anyone claiming to have done so successfully.  (Other than on a soft style vent puppet such as Dan Horn does so skillfully.)  Maybe readers would like to comment on this matter.


What a day!

It appears someone is going to get a real deal here:

From: A Day With Charlie McCarthy

Read These Lips!

Cover Story: Read These Lips! by Marta Aldrich. Several young vents are featured as the "fascinating faces of today's ventriloquism". Quotes from Jeff Dunham. Mary Ann Taylor, Mark Wade, Kelly Asbury, and other pros. Also a review of the Vent Haven Convention. Fun and informative.  Collectible. For sale:


Question:  I believe Lovik made dinosaur like puppets, in a half shell, which "rested" on a false hand. Does anyone know whether someone is still making these? Are there any available for purchase? Are there plans of these available?  Would love to here more about these puppets!
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  You are referring to the "Hand-n-Hand" puppets made by Lovik and sold by Maher Studios.  1996-2000 maybe?   There were sold for a relatively short period of time and then production was discontinued.  No plans were produced.  You have described pretty well how they were designed.  Below is a copy of a catalog page advertising the Hand-n-Hand puppets.  The young man in the photo is Keith Lovik who helped his parents build these novelty puppets.


19 Dialogues!

By Paul Stadelman - two books in one.  Ventriloquist instruction plus 19 comedy dialogues.  48 Pages. Original book (very good condition) year of publication unknown. Legendary book by a legendary showman/performer/instructor!

Published 1920!

VENTRILOQUIST LESSONS (TEN) by La Vellma (David L. Lustig), PLUS COMEDY DIALOGUES (two, long..) by Robert W. Doidge. This is an original 98 year old copy, good condition,  32 pages http://www.ebay.com/itm/261023047239

Movie Life or Charlie McCarthy

Charlie, in a play suit, shared first picture with a
figure named Laura.  Note Bergen's magic props.
Yes, if you guessed the ventriloquist pictured as a tot in yesterday's post was Edgar Bergen you were correct.  The pictures come from a 48 photo collection printed in a 1940's magazine, chronicling the "life" of Charlie McCarthy.  It is fascinating to read and see - five large full page spreads.  I have one original set of the pages themselves (not copies), taken directly from the magazine, for sale on eBay.  You see the first page below.  I have photos showing all 5 pages on the eBay listing:


Hall of Fame Coins - Do you have yours?

From Winkle and Wags: "There have been so many comments on these coins that I thought 'Why add to it?'. Then, I decided, 'Well ... one more couldn't hurt' even thought I'm sure there'll be more than 'one more'. Everything you've read is the absolute truth. These handsome coins are quality merchandise that display excellent craftsmanship. The detail is truly fine; the hinges on Pedro's box, Mortimer's buck-teeth, Farfel's teeth. It's quite hard to see how this set could be improved on. I guess I like the Jimmy Nelson one best, because it honors a wonderfully gifted performer that is still with us. He can appreciate this tribute himself; not having family members do it after his passing. I'm glad that this fine gentleman (accent on 'gentle') can see this coin himself. I know that many folks look forward to the month of June for 'summer', but now I can think of some that look forward to it for 'coins'."

Who's this?

Can you identify this youngster (age 15 months on the left and five years on the right)
who went on to have an adult career as a ventriloquist?
(Answer tomorrow.)


Antique mall vent finds

Question:  There is an antique mall near my work which I'll often troll on my lunch hour. I'm always hoping I'll discover some cool vent stuff, but never do, until yesterday I found both a vintage Danny O'Day and Charlie McCarthy. Danny is in great shape except for the mouth needing a new rubber band (and no shoes.) They priced him at $135. Is that a bit high?  Charlie is worse off with a completely detached arm and jaw and, of course, missing hat and monocle--the first to go (...and those brown shoes are doing terrible things to that tuxedo.) He's marked $75. I know with enough looking I could probably find a deal on mint versions online, but there's something intriguing about having them cross my path in person. Just wondering if these prices are too much for the state they are in. ~Ted
*  *  *  *
From Mr D:  At this point in time, these two dolls really have very little extra value due to their age, if any at all.  So if all you want is a basic ventriloquist doll, you need to compare their prices to the prices of a new doll of the same character.  If they are stuffed body (and I assume they are) you can get a new basic style Danny or Charlie for $55  (ThrowThings.com) .  I certainly would not recommend you pay more than that for either of these you found in the antique store. 
I would not pay over $35 myself, since I only buy such dolls to convert and upgrade them, and $35 is about the current price of Goldberger dolls wholesale in quantity - and it's easier to start with a new doll than a used one...However, the price you see is not far off from what I've seen on similar dolls in antique shops in the Denver area.  The dealer may find a buyer willing to pay that or slightly less.  Personally, I just smile, shake my head, and walk on by...:-)


Happy Mothers Day (and Birthday)!

Our son Kevin's birthday is May 13, which means every half dozen years or so, depending on the effect of leap years, Kevin's birthday falls on Mothers Day.  This is one of those special years.  So Happy Birthday, Kevin, and Happy Mothers Day, Mom!  And for all the Mom's reading this, may this be your special day, too!


From Steve Axtell

"Beautiful, Beautiful... I say it twice because I got 2 sets! They are Beautiful, Beautiful! A classic work, excellent job, Clinton! Ax"

One set: $30.00; 2 or more sets: $25.00 per set
or simply email: mahertalk@aol.com

Which one?

A couple weeks ago I posted a photo of J. D. Haile's Foy Brown figure I had worked on (2nd from left in the above photo).  Shortly thereafter, Jim sent me this photo of his collection of figures with a challenge to me ... he asked me if I could identify the one figure I had NOT done some work on.  To tell the truth, I'm not 100% certain - I think it's the male figure on the far right but I'm going to have to ask. 


Coin Comment

From Lisa Laird:  I found the perfect memory/shadow box and coin cases to display my coin collection in. I am eagerly awaiting the next set!! Thanks for such a wonderful keepsake. (I will be anticipating the Shari Lewis coin in particular!!)
*  *  *  * *
From Mr. D:  You have a clever idea for displaying the Hall of Fame coins - thank you for sharing! (Maybe you can send me a picture at some point so I can share it here?)

(Sneak peek:  Shari Lewis is scheduled for the set to be released this Fall. Dave Miller has the artwork completed. I just need to sell enough of the first two sets to pay for the third set which will include Shari's coin.)

For Sale (eBay)

VENTRILOQUIST "HOW-TO" plus MANY vintage and rare photos of this famous ventriloquist duo. With fun to read story about Charlie's "life" as entertainer and actor. Also scenes from "The Goldwyn Follies". 36 pages. This is the original 9" by 13" book, copyright 1938.

SCOPE Vol 6 Issue 3, 1997 VENTRILOQUIST VALENTINE VOX cover image (below) with full two page spread inside titled "Vox Mysterium - Preserving Ventriloquism", quite fascinating (and sometimes controversial) article. This 28 news magazine (10" x 13") is complete and in very good condition.   More photos and further description here:

"Hear no evil"

This carved wooden figure (Lovik) can "hear no evil" due to an "evil" accident he experienced years ago that cost him his entire left ear and half his right ear!  No - he did not have a run-in with Tyson.  In truth, he was sat upon by the owners brother!  And in the years since the original ear and pieces have been lost, so I'll see what I can do about a total ear replacement procedure.


Ready Now! Vent Your Expressions! One time offer.

I now have in hand, 25 copies of HOW TO VENT YOUR EXPRESSIONS by Cliff Taylor.  76 pgs.  Bring your vent puppet or stage puppet to life.  Use this reference book to learn to manipulate your puppet or figure in the most life like manner.  Simply look up the desired attitude (Anger, Ashamed, Fear, Tease, Sleep, Courage, etc. - hundreds are listed) and follow the directions!

The first major work designed to help ventriloquists enhance the ventriloquial illusion. Manipulate the figure (even the most basic figure) so as to portray any and every emotion and attitude with correct head and body language.  Both vocal speech and body movements are described in detail.  Topics, attitudes, and mannerisms are listed alphabetically and cross-referenced.  It's truly an amazing work! Written by Cliff Taylor, professional ventriloquist and instructor.  Published 1989 by Maher Studios.

$11.00 each ($10 for book and $1 S/H).  If you are one of those who asked me to reserve a copy for you, please email me (mahertalk@aol.com) and tell me if you want to pay by Paypal, check or money order.  (After reserve orders are filled I will accept additional orders while the supply lasts.)

For sale:

4 Magazine lot withVENTRILOQUIST features: JEFF DUNHAM, PAUL WINCHELL, SHARI LEWIS (BUFFALO BOB SMITH) - complete magazines, mint condition.


Also included with the lot as an extra bonus is a 5x7 color/signed photo of ventriloquist Stanley Allynn with his wooden figure (dummy), Bill.

Nightmare for Figuremaker!

Speaking from experience, I can assure you, Ventriloquist Figures packed poorly when returned for repair are a caring figuremaker's nightmare.  When this box arrived with the end of the figure's headpost extending from the box I cringed knowing possible damage from transit could multiply initial woes!  Fortunately, that was not the case, but here's a reminder that it's as important to cushion and protect the end of the headpost as the head itself when shipping the figure!


Jerry ready for space?

To learn why Jerry Mahoney is dressed as an astronaut, click the link below.  (Thanks to Alan Semok for this info.) 


Question of Identity

Question:  Today I visited a puppeteer who owned  this old character ( late 19th century, she told me).
In fact it is a boy (with a girls wig) made of papiermach√©.  Eye's can move and separately close.  I can't find a name on the stick or head.   Do you have any idea of the origin?  Thanks!  Bastiaan Verhorst
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D:  No, I cannot positively identify the maker of the figure in the pictures you sent.  But I will post it on my blog.  Maybe one of my readers can provide the information you seek.


For Sale now on eBay: