This is an unusual head with push button controls. Betty Davenport says that this is one of the first that Mr Insull made.
This automaton in the Davenport Collection was in very poor condition and Tony Middleton repaired it in 2016. The automaton does not, and according to Betty Davenport never did, make a laughing noise. Nevertheless, when switched on, the sailor rocks from side to side as though something very funny has got to him. Davenports used to hire out this sailor to TV and theatre companies. In the photograph Roy Davenport is on the left and Tony Middleton on the right.
The face has eye and mouth movements. Betty Davenport recalls that the face was made by Mr Insull for an advertising company during the 1950s. It was never collected. It is most likely that the face is based on the Guinness Smiling Pint image that was used in Guinness advertising from the 1930s to the 1950s. The Guinness Archive holds no record of such a ventriloquial face being commissioned by Guinness. We wish to credit the Guinness Archive for this information and for permission to make use of the Guinness image for comparison with this item.
This is the head with rolling eyes that was made for Dennis Spicer by Mr Insull. Betty Davenport recalls that it was made in 1960 or a little earlier. In the event Dennis Spicer never collected it from Davenports before his fatal car accident in 1964.