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Hand Puppets, Rod Puppets and String Puppets

Victorian Dollhouse

Puppets have for centuries presented themselves to audiences young and old as much as any matinee idol.

Ever since the 1920s Puppets have had a growing band of collectors that are also puppeteers both professional and amateur. Hand Puppets, Rod Puppets, String Puppets and Finger Puppets Collectors are charmed by puppets, intrigued by their ability to imitate human behavior, fascinated by their long and rich history and love their company.

The word Puppet is related to "Poupie" French for Doll and "Poppett" British slang for a loveable young person. This could be true because most puppets look like dolls. The most desirable antique and modern puppets are made for the theater. Antiques, especially if made in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s are very expensive.

Five basic types of puppets exist today and they are hand held puppets, finger puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets and string puppets. String puppets are sometime called Marionettes. Ventriloquists puppets and also be mixed in with puppet groups. Age, origan and design establish their value.


A hand puppet is the simplest, made much like a mitten and is controlled by the hand of a puppeteer. Hand puppeteers stand below and behind a stage, have little or no body below the waist and usually no legs at all. Puppeteers can make some hand puppets move their heads, arms, turn their eyes and raise and lower eyelids all with a simple device controlled by a finger. Hand puppets are the oldest type and originated in China in the 10th Century.

A rod puppet is controlled by rods attached to its body. The body is more complete than a hand held puppet and usually has legs, dress or a long robe.

Shadow puppets are usually flat cutouts of figures originating in the Orient. Shadow puppets do their acts behind a screen of paper or cloth onto which a light from behind them casts their shadows.

String puppets or Marionettes are usually richly garbed with the most popular made by little know American puppeteers.

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