A Rough Guide To Collecting Pelham Puppets Pt 1

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Pelham Puppets On eBay for buyers and sellers.


In the last 15 years since e-Bay started Pelham puppets have become sought after by collectors and dealers alike. Back in 1995 Pelham Puppets had only ceased trading for 3 years and there was little information available about Pelham Puppets. What information there was, was available to only a very few. Now you can find out what you want and when you want at the click of a button. 

Are you asking enough questions?

When bidding on a Pelham Puppet it does not hurt to ask a few sensible questions. Asking these questions will help you make a more informed decision on how much money you are prepared to part with. It will also help to avoid any disappointment when your puppet eventually arrives. Peoples interpretation of 'Mint Condition' and 'Used' are as sublime to the ridiculous as you could possibly imagine! This is especially true when the puppet you are considering bidding on is likely to cost a considerable amount of money.

Whether you are paying small or large amounts of money, we recommend you contact the seller and ask the following questions before you bid: 

Has the puppet been re-strung? 

Are the clothes original? Are there any moth holes, stains or tear's? 

Are all the joints and limbs original and intact/rust free? 

Is all the paintwork original? 

Are there any cracks, chips, hairlines, blemishes or paint loss anywhere? 

Is there any sign of restoration or tampering? 

Could I have more photos please?

To the untrained eye of new or, and it does happen, even seasoned collectors, one can be fooled into thinking that the puppet they are bidding on is authentic. The term 'Used' in an item description is, unfortunately, license for some unorthodox sellers to effect, or attempt, restoration yet say nothing of what they have done. 

Occasionally a puppet comes along that has been listed twice within a short space of time, but the second time around there are anomalies; It has gained strings or new items of clothing. There are those of the opinion that if everything the puppet is made of is original Pelham Puppet production parts/materials then it is OK ? 

The Puppet Surgery opinion is, if it is not in the original factory made condition then it is not authentic. The only thing we consider to be acceptable is re-stringing, anything else is unaceptable and therefore should be mentioned in the item description.


This item was listed on eBay with only 2 weeks between listings ! The second seller mentioned nothing of the restoration they had done, in the item description, when they re-listed it!

For Buyers...

Ask questions before bidding, do some research and do not contact a seller outside of eBay to avoid disappointment, wasted time and wasted money .

For Sellers...

Be honest about your item and do some research to find out what it is you actually have. If you do have something rare and desirable, you can be sure that it will realise its true value. You will not get £200 for a 1980's SS Gypsy ,  £110 for 1960's SL Fairy or £500 for an in packet Caesar Minipup! Save yourselves re-listing fees and do some research. Also if you have a Pelham Puppet with plastic hands it will not be from the 1950's or the 1960's as they were not introduced until the 1970's.  

Know your facts...

FACT 1. Soft plastic legs in a pink/grey marbled composition appeared on only some characters in the 1960's, NO plastic hands.  FACT 2. Bar a few exceptions, puppets with plastic hands also had plastic legs in a harder, solid colour plastic introduced in the 1970's, firstly imitating the metal strip locking knee joint and then in the 1980's changing to threaded barrel legs imitating the ones introduced in the 60's. If the plastic legs on your puppet are not marbled to look at then is is not from the 1960's !

For Both...

In the lifetime of the factory, Pelham Puppets made in excess of EIGHT MILLION puppets. The chances of the puppet that you are selling, or buying, is rare ? Well, the production figure mentioned speaks for itself. It is easy to find out those that are more desirable than others by looking in the completed listings to see how often they appear and how much they sell for. 

" I have a Pelham Puppet, how much is it worth?"

This is with out doubt the most common question of all. The honest answer is, whatever someone is prepared to pay for it. Not the answer you wanted ? Well, unless it is one of the more desirable Pelham Puppets, you are looking at an average price of £25 or $35 Which is half of what it was 10 years ago and that has been reflected in all prices from highest to lowest. Why? When e-Bay started you saw very few Pelham Puppets, let alone any of the ones that were considered rare. As home computing and the internet became more accessible so too did the Pelham Puppets one once thought rare. One now has access to many of the characters made by Pelham Puppets  24/7, 52/12.

'Must have' Reference Books

There are now available several books on Pelham Puppets. Two by David Leech, the leading authority on Pelham Puppets, who worked for the company and was a friend of Bob Pelham and his family. Also two by Paul Coleman, a life long enthusiast, collector and dealer.


Books by David Leech


Books by Paul Coleman


On a final note, if there is one debate that gets some collectors hot under the collar then it has to be the subject of fakes. So what constitutes a fake ? There are several definitions but in essence, an imitation/copy made with the intent to deceive. In 1963 Pelham Puppets introduced copyright on the boxes, and tags on the puppets themselves, to distinguish them from cheap copies that were flooding the market from Japan at that time.  Deceived and frustrated customers sent their copy to Pelham Puppet factory with complaints of poor manufacture and expecting their puppet to be repaired! Bob Pelham replaced each copy with an authentic Pelham Puppet, maintaining the good name of the product and the company. Thankfully anyone wishing to reproduce a Pelham Puppet exactly in this day and age would find it extremely difficult. The majority of the component parts are no longer made or available. 

For example, the wood used for the bodies was Piranha Pine which is now a protected species and therefore not available. The process for making the moulded parts is exacting and difficult to reproduce without major investment. So the chances of buying a true fake is pretty remote. 

So, Why the debate and why do some feel so against it ? Well, there are a few collectors who like to make characters in the Pelham Puppet style that Pelham Puppets never made, examples of which can be seen in Paul Coleman's second book. The collectors who make these puppets are very talented people and their puppets are made with great reverence to their original counterparts. Some have been seen on e-bay recently and the seller has stated that they are not original. It would seem it is those who are dispossessed of any creative talent or a keen eye , which is no fault of their own, who are the most disturbed by these, in most cases, amazing creations made by way of homage to Bob Pelham and what he created.  Most are documented and it would be fair to say that in the fullness of time they too will be considered worthy of collecting, as some already have.


Characters that 'Could have been a Pelham Puppet' but never were, lovingly made by collectors.

The Puppet Surgery Opinion is, do not worry about fakes and if you are, ask questions.

Need to re-string a Pelham Puppet?

You will find stringing instructions at the 'The Puppet Surgery'. All you need to do is join the message board, which is free.

For more information on how to roughly date a Pelham Puppet see Pt 2 of the guide.

'The Puppet Surgery' on eBay Copyright 2006-2010

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