I have been getting emails asking me about pricing on various makers of figures and I am more than happy to share my knowledge with anyone who asks but you must remember pricing is subjective and just because I may feel a figure is worth x number of dollars the person selling might take a very different approach to the value.
I have had to deal with families adding on dollars because of sentimentality. This can usually be overcome when you explain that sentimentality only has a value to the one person who is selling. It does not add value to the dummy.
Then there is the figure that has a provenance. This is many cases will add some value because you can then give the history of the figure from the purchaser on down. I love when a dummy has this provenance. I list this information with the figures when I list them in the Ventriloquist Central Collection. Not only does it make the figure a bit more valuable but the history is always an interesting read.
Also one has to take into consideration the functions that a figure has. If the dummy has only mouth movement it certainly isn’t going to be worth the same as a figure that has a multitude of functions. That just makes sense.
A lot more work goes into producing a dummy with those extra functions. The extra functions don’t mean the ventriloquist will make the dummy perform better because learning to use all the controls is a large task, but that is another subject. Just remember that in pricing the more functions the higher the price.
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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As a past owner of several Marshalls, original then overhauled, all of the extras like upper lip movement, protruding tongue, flapping ears, even raising brows, took away from the artistic quality of the original finished figures. One 18″ figure had only eyes and one winker as extra in original state, and I noticed the pains Marshall took to make the winker lid same as non-winker lid. All of Marshall’s figures with upper lip used a metal band under the kid leather with no fashioning whatever, just straight across, and so much was lost in the angled curvature of the lip carved into it. The same for protruding tongue which resulted in an ugly slot showing under lower jaw, and for flapping ears loss of carved into areas. I bet that Marshall did not like going back into a finished piece, and that he probably did better work if installed at the outset where order was for one with winkers and blinkers, etc. than to have to go back in later on to make the changes. Show me a Marshall without extras and to me more valuable than one with them, but like you say people pay more for more work.