File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 7

To: <>
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2008 16:24:47 -0500
Cc: Jean Burn <>,
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Search for Shakespearian Marionettes

I love this kind of question
Puppetry Journal Fall 1984 might have the answer
Jean Reges Burn did an article about the "Coffer-Miller Pedal Marionettes"

The article has several excellent photos and diagrams

"Martha Miller Coffer and Jess Coffer were Shakespearean actors who retired 
from a troupe to make their own miniature productions. According to press 
releases they made their decision around 1943"

In 1978 Coffer-Millers granddaughter donated the productions of Moliere's 
Imaginary Invalid and Sheridan's the The Rivals to Principia College

There is a confusing reference to Austin in the article

It appears the puppets were influenced by Kungsholm

I just found a date for Martha Coffer
1888-1969, last address Houston (originally from IL)
found a Jesse Coffer 1892-1967, last address Houston (originally from IL)

Jean reports having looked at the puppets at the School of Nations Museum at 
Principia College, Elash IL
School of Nations Museum
Principia College
Elsah, IL 62028
(618) 374-2131

mailing address:
13201 Clayton Rd.
Saint Loius, MO 63131
tel (314) 374-5259

Principia is a school for Christian Scientists on two campuses in the St. 
Louis, Missouri, area. Programs for infants through seniors in high school 
are located in West St. Louis County. Fifty miles away on bluffs overlooking 
the Mississippi River at Elsah, Illinois, is Principia College.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bell, John" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2008 3:13 PM
Subject: [Puptcrit] Search for Shakespearian Marionettes

Dear Puptcrit Colleagues,
  I received the following message at the Ballard Institute; I wonder if any 
of you has advice for Tom Fannin?  Thanks for your attention!

John Bell
Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
University of Connecticut


From: Tom Fannin []
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2008 10:36 PM
To: SFA - Puppetry Museum
Subject: Search for Shakespearian Marrionettes

When I was a student at The University of Texas in Austin, Texas in the late 
1960's I briefly rented an apartment from a strange older couple who had a 
large collection of marrionettes and theater memorability which they had 
created and collected while touring in the late 1890's - 1920's. Most of the 
marrionnettes were in vintage shakespearian costume and they had playbills 
from performing Othello, Macbeth and other plays at theaters throughout the 
east coast and midwest. They told a great story about having worked with 
Thomas Edison in making an early moving picture version of a play which was 
presented to Kaiser Wilhelm just before WWI.

They did not seem to have any close family and had a great distrust of 
museums, universities and such which might be interested in their 
collection. I lost track of their names and never hear of them again, nor 
have I seen references to their collection.

Was I dreaming ?  Do you have any knowledge of  this collection ? I hope it 
wound up somewhere where it would be appreciated.  Any information would be 

Tom Fannin

Houston Texas


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