Native American ‘puppet’ found on UK Roadshow


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This tobacconist's puppet is causing quite a stir 'across the pond.' Photos courtesy Ivor Hughes.

LEEDS, Yorkshire, U.K. – A lady in Leeds had some time on her hands one Thursday afternoon in September.

So, before throwing out an old wooden puppet that had been in the family for generations, she took it to Leeds Town Hall to get the benefit of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow experts who were filming there that day.

It puzzled some of the experts, but not Hilary Kay – a published specialist in dolls and toys and senior director at Sotheby’s when she left in 1999.

She identified it as an advertising display from a tobacconist’s window or similar, with the headdress being made of tobacco leaves rather than feathers. Although Hilary rated it highly for the UK market, she suggested that it should do even better Stateside. The appraisal value was not disclosed.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, said “It was on its way to the rubbish bin. It was my grandfather’s, and he came from a long line of sailors in Hull (a major east coast port).”

Ivor Hughes is a UK-based dealer in antiques, collectibles and decorative pieces. He is widely published in the UK, USA and Australian/NZ antiques and lifestyle press.

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The owner holds a 12-inch high puppet that caused a stir among experts of the United Kingdom's version of Antiques Roadshow. Photos courtesy Ivor Hughes.
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Expert Hilary Kay, who appraised the puppet, has been with UK's Antiques Roadshow for 30 of its 32 years. The puppet is heading to an American auction house. Photos courtesy Ivor Hughes.

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