A question I am asked over and over again is how can I purchase a Frank Marshall figure or a McElroy Brothers ventriloquist figure and I have a very hard time telling folks that it is not that easy. It took many many years before I was able to purchase my first Frank Marshall figure. I can say it just does not happen, you have to make it happen.
Years ago if you went to the Vent Haven Convention all the tables were covered with Hard figures and there was always a Marshall or two that would show up for sale. Unfortunately times change and as soft figures took hold, less and less hard figures show up at the convention. There are still a few dealers that come with hard figures such as Tim Selberg, Albert Alfaro and David Deneen (Mr. Dead Guy).
The older figures just don’t seem to appear at the convention any longer. I myself have set up with a table a couple times with antique figures but the attendees were looking for the soft figures. The few I did sell I could have sold without taking them to the convention but it was fun setting up and meeting everyone and of course showing some of the older figures seldom seen anymore.
So you must scour the antique world looking for the coveted antique ventriloquist figures. They do still show up every so often in antique shops or malls, flea markets and of course eBay. On line buying is more than likely where you are going to find older figures because antique dealers today reach the whole world rather than just the few that go antiquing on the Saturday or Sunday drive.
As a matter of fact going antiquing in your car has also, for the most part, become a thing of the past. I can remember being able to drive through just about any city and seeing a street with all the antique shops but now that seems to be a thing of the past.
I also subscribe to a few antique newspapers which list the auctions that are taking place and look for ventriloquist figures that may be listed in the sale. I have been lucky a few times this way too.
So will you find a Marshall or McElroy you ask?? The Marshall you should be able to find but I am not so sure about the McElroy. The McElroy Brothers say in the audio interview, which is on this site**, that they produced over 100 figures but I don’t believe that number. I think they may have produced upwards of fifty and to date only around twenty five are known. I would think if you were in the Cinncinati area you would have the best chance to find a McElroy that is as yet undiscovered as that is where they brothers were from.
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. His collection of ventriloquist figures now numbers over 100 figures of which there are over 50 Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2009 by Dan Willinger
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