In the world of collecting one of the most important factors in the valuation of an item is originality. Just because a ventriloquist dummy has a head, body, hands and legs does not always mean you are buying a complete figure. As with any other collectible if parts have been changed or replaced with parts from something else devaluation occurs. If you have a Frank Marshall dummy and then the head is placed into a Finis Robinson body automatically you have a devaluation which occurs. Yes it is a complete ventriloquist dummy but not correct.
If you purchase a Jaguar automobile but replace the Jaguar engine with a Chevrolet engine, yes the car may run much better, but it will never be worth what it was prior to the engine swap. Now in the automotive world when a car gets reupholstered, new paint, new chrome, and engine rebuild etc., you certainly bring back the value and sometime, more often than not, the vehicle will become more valuable than the actual value of the antique car. With ventriloquist dummies just the opposite occurs. When you take an original dummy’s paint and redo it you will lose value automatically. Originality is the key to greatest value. A ventriloquist dummy with original paint, wig, body, hands even clothing will command the highest prices in return.
I have myself purchased a ventriloquist dummy that was stored away in a basement and when you touched it, the dummy literally fell apart. It had to be totally disassembled and put back together and is now a wonderful example of a Mack figure, but is it worth the same as a totally original figure? In most cases the answer is no. This particular Mack figure is such a premium figure that after the restoration it still has a great value but the restoration costs far exceeded the value of the figure. This is also a fact you must take into consideration. Restoration cost by a real pro can be very costly and take a lot of time. You must make sure that the ventriloquist dummy is worth the cost and time before you proceed.
All this kept in mind will bring you a clear understanding of the true collector’s aspect of buying antique ventriloquist dummies. Not everything you find for sale is correct and to make the dummy a correct representation of the original builder can sometimes be a real challenge. But the love of the hunt is the same for ventriloquist figures as for any other true antique. By the way, the true definition of antique is 100 years old with the automobile being the only exception. It is 25 years and then it is an antique. Most of us in, the vent collecting world, will consider any ventriloquist dummy made prior to 1970 an antique although it truly is just collectible.