After talking with Bill Nelson and showing him the pictures of this figure Bill was able to confirm to me that this particular figure is quite possibly his number one figure.
Bill went through his photo archive and found a picture of him in his workshop in Richmond Virginia where he is in the process of sculpting heads. The figure you see here is pictured in the sculpting stage in the fore ground of this picture.
Bill sculpted in clay and then the heads were cast in fiberglass. No molds of these figures were made so they are one of a kind. Bill had someone in Richmond do the jaw mechanics and that was the only function in the very first figures.
The figures were cast in fiberglass and were signed on the back of the neck. These early figures were also flat bottom on the neck and used drop through bodies. The paint Bill used back then was oils. This figure according to Bill dates from late 1970 to early 1980 but he could not pin down the exact date. Close enough for me.
In the background on the shelf and also scattered you will see the static dolls which I mentioned in a previous blog. Most notably is Mr Horowitz as a static doll.
Bill confirmed with me that he believes this to be the first of a trio of faces he made and was excited to see it was in the Ventriloquist Central Collection.
Click here for more pictures of Bill Nelson’s First Ventriloquist Figure
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Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2013 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst
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No doubt about it Bill Nelson is a legend in the figure building world