Lever or Ring for Ventriloquist Mechanics

Since I am not a performer and just collect ventriloquist figures the fact that a figure has ring pull or lever really does not make a difference.

Nearly every maker of ventriloquist figures from the golden age all made figures with either the ring for pulling or a lever. Macks, Marshall, Pinxy, and Spencer all used both and even sometimes used a combination of both.

I am curious if anyone out there has comment on the use of the ring pull. I actually have a superb Marshall that has 4 ring pulls.

I have put my fingers in and they rest in the rings and actually work rather well. Of course I do believe you really have to get used to them.

I have a Spencer with multiple functions and some are levers and others are rings. This combination of the two together seems a bit unusual to really work with but it is exactly how it was made.

These pictures are of a Frank Marshall figure with multiple movements all controlled by ring pulls. No levers were ever installed. The figure has independent winkers, side moving eyes, upper and lower lip for whistle effect and slot jaw.

I removed the rings to remove the head stick for pictures. The hole through the shoulder board is not large enough to allow the head stick and rings come out so the rings must be removed first.




These pictures are of a Spencer figure showing the use of both levers and ring pulls.




Just some thoughts from a ventriloquist figure collector.




Dan Willinger 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. 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 2010 by Dan Willinger

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6 Responses to Lever or Ring for Ventriloquist Mechanics

  1. Back in “the day,” ring controls were all that were available for the most part.
    Very cumbersome, and hard to locate and utilize.

    When levers became available, most vents and figure makers went with them.

    It’s like which do you prefer, “Candles or Light Bulbs?” The choice is obvious.

  2. Bob Conrad says:

    I have to agree with Pete. Especially if you are using several figures and have to change figures the rings would really be a problem. Levers work better.

  3. David Thrasher says:

    Using levers or rings is a question that has come up for me as I attempt to come up with the mechanics for my own figures. Thinking about the operation, I’m thinking levers would be better because they would be easier to find when you reach your hand in. I imagine that rings would probably swing around a bit and it would take some blind fishing to find them. I’ve been wondering if there might be some way to get rings to return to an easily found location and to a position where you could easily get your finger back to. On the subject of levers, I’ve been considering the idea of having the levers operate rods so that there would not be the possibility of strings breaking.

  4. LeeDean says:

    A large elliptical screweye angled above ellipsis and positioned so that on return the ring would turn and lodge in the two angles of screweye with just enough space to get finger into ring.

  5. MontanaDan says:

    A Large ring ran down the pant leg and attached to the toe could be operated hands free! Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

  6. LeeDean says:

    The next best thing to a pneumatic bulb control for mouth control and is what I use as an alternative, the large ring run down pants leg to the cuff of pants. Pull on pants leg and dummy raises hell.

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