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Charmayne's Push Puppet Page

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     Welcome to my passion of push puppets. It started with the Italian cowboy and the plastic Helm Smurf my sons found at a charity second hand shop in the mid 1980's. While I volunteered in the shop, they would play with the toys, finding little treasures such as balls, spacemen, and Legos and yes, the two push puppets. My sons have long passed into adulthood and big boy toys while I continue to search for push puppets. I now have quite an amazing collection. Boxers, Drunks, dogs, people, animals, buildings, bugs, cartoon and movie characters, wood puppets, plastic ones, combination or transition puppets, puppets on round bases, square bases, hexagon bases, puppets on wine bottle corks, puppets on music boxes, puppets and puppets galore!!! My favorite? Without a doubt, Happy Dog. But each puppet speaks to my heart! Yes, that means I must be a collector.

     Push puppet, push-ups, Wakouwa. These are the most common names. They might also be called floppy toys, thumb toys, collapsing toys, dancing toys, bendy toys, "that toy we had as a kid that would move when you pushed on the button under the base". And this list doesn't even touch on German and Dutch names although Wakouwa is the most common name in Europe. They go by a lot of obvious names but why Wakouwa?  These little articulated wooden toys were created in Switzerland by Walther Kourt Walss in 1932. WAlther KOUrt WAlss. WAKOUWA!

     All are composed of a hollow base containing the pushbutton and a spring. Strings (not elastic) attach to the pushbutton and are fed up through the figure which sits on top of the base. The figures are generally made of beads. When the button is depressed, the spring is compressed and the strings go limp. This is the way the figure is animated. It will come to life and dance for you, shake or nod a head, lay down, do a bow, etc. The original ones were wood but now puppets come in plastic also and in many shapes, sizes, and themes. Some of the old ones contain squeakers so when you push rapidly on the button, air is forced out through the bellows and a little squeaking sound is heard.

     Below you will see different links to my various pages or sections. I hope you enjoy my collection and my push puppet page. I would be happy to hear from you. Emails can be sent to me at: You may need to be patient for a reply, but one will come!

What is the newest stuff on my site?

Halloween puppets, vintage and modern, both wood and plastic.

Large Italian animals

The darling German animal and people puppets have their own spots in the Gallery.

I posted photographs of 2 more versions of Kohner's Indian Chief in the Kohner gallery.

Tipsitoff has his own little page now. I have him added into my 1 of a kind puppets plus a link there to more pictures of him and some during his repair.

Click on the donkey picture below for the link to all my gallery pages.

Halloween puppets

Halloween puppets

large Italian animals

Large Italian animal puppets



Karl-Heinz Bilz

Karl-Heinz Bilz German people puppets





Jan Stephani's animal puppets

Jan Stephani's German animal puppets








gallery index

The Gallery of Charmayne's Puppets, main menu

I am continuing the massive chore of photographing my collection. Everybody is getting a good dusting in the process!  Not enough display case space, poor fellows. Dusting takes time.  It is risky because it is easy to snap a string on the old guys. You need to be very careful and gentle.  A small paint brush works well.  It is hard not to play a bit, too!   I will add groups of puppets as I finish them. Click on the donkey to the left and you will be taken to a table of contents page for all my different galleries.  I am making progress with my wood puppets.  I now have 26 groups. And don't miss the special pages below, too.

Music Box main page

Push Puppet Music Box

A  little Italian push puppet dog is sitting on a Swiss music box! When you wind the music box, a lovely tune is played and the dog moves.  It is so sweet.  I have made a short movie and an explanation of how it was made.

         music boxinner workings
My collection main page

My Display Case

This link will take you to see my display case. It is over-full with Kohner puppets, Wakouwa puppets, several very unique puppets, a shelf full of Italian people figures, and a shelf holding many assorted dogs. It is a quick way to see a bunch of my puppets.  You will also see my three sizes of dogs.

                                                  3 sizes           the dog pound

Bob's Push Puppet Hospital internal memo

The Push Puppet Hospitalbroken down dog

Strings snap, accidents happen. Puppets need repairs. My husband, Bob, has become quite expert at this job. He has found very thin Spectra line is quite nice for re-stringing. It is flexible, thin, and extremely strong. Thin braided hemp line works very well also. We have learned to manufacture replacement parts. My Peter Pan Kohner puppet was purchased minus one foot and leg. The casual observer would never guess this, the way Peter looks today!

Years ago my dear fellow-pup collector and accomplice Charlene Ryan sent us two of her push puppets for repair. One had fallen apart in her mother's hands with a single gentle push. The cotton string gets old and frayed. One push too many and you have beads flying in all directions. Be sure to find them all so your puppet can be re-strung!

Bob's Push Puppet Hospital internal memo is my report to Charlene and photos of her puppets during their repair. It was a traumatic experience for her. I wanted to make her laugh and reassure her of her puppets' well-being.

push puppet makers

2 Push Puppet Makers

Bob and I were in Germany on holiday in June, 2007. We drove to the Erzgebirge region so I could scout out new push puppets and perhaps meet the craftsmen. We were so fortunate to meet both Jan Stephani, who makes the animals, and Karl-Heinz Bilz who specializes in people. Both men are third generation masters. The link takes you to see them and their puppets.



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Re-publication of any text or images with written consent only.

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