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Friday, November 7, 2008


Excuse me!!! but i did a google search for those two groups ( Destitute Figure Maker's Assoc., Ventriloquist's Routine Stealers Assoc.) that the money goes to couldn't find this going over my head or am i not entering the names correctly.. in any case if the money is staying with Tom to help advance the museum, which according to the records of Vent Haven couldn't be very much unless private donations are being made...In any event I wish Tom much success with his museum. Lee Cornell must have had a wonderful time while at Tom's home. To view the photos that accompanied this article go to Lee's website, believe me you'll be glad you did.

A Visit to Tom Ladshaw's "Museum"
A few weeks ago I took a drive to visit my friend Tom Ladshaw at his home in Covington, KY.Tom Ladshaw with Stanley Hillman
As you may know, Tom is not only a professional magician, ventriloquist, comedian, author, publisher and creator of tricks and props, but he is recognized around the world as perhaps the most knowledgeable historian when it comes to anything pertaining to ventriloquism.
He has also been an avid collector of ventriloquism related items for over 30 years.
I knew Tom owned a sizable collection (based on the huge quantity of rare collectibles he brings to the Vent Haven Convention each year) and I was very excited to see what other goodies he had in store for me to see at his home.I was nowhere near prepared as to what I was going to see.
Upon entering Tom's home, I first noticed many framed original movie and promotional posters on the walls.
Then we headed down to his basement. Wow. My jaw literally dropped when we got to the bottom of the staircase. Tom's basement has been completely refinished and turned into what can only be called a museum. Everything meticulously organized and extremely well lit on walls and shelves.
He could charge admission to this place!
Walls filled with framed pictures, playbills and more posters. He owns more than 100 vintage and antique posters dating back to 1841.
There are shelves filled with nearly every ventriloquism book, pamphlet and catalog ever published. Tom has over 100 figuremaker catalogs from nine countries dating back to the 1880's and nearly 800 books from more than 20 countries dating back to the late 1700's.
He also owns the original set of the lead-type individual letter mechanicals which were used to hand-set and print Frank Marshall's 1931 catalog.
An entire wall of Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd antique items:
Another wall containing vintage toys, games, hand puppets, records and much more:
Then, of course, there are the figures in Tom's collection. He has dozens and dozens of figures - both on display and in storage.
Figures by Marshall, Insull, Gilmer, Claassen and many others. Tom really searches for figures that are in as near mint of a condition as possible.
Tom's collection also includes Ronn Lucas' very first "Buffalo Billy" (made by Ronn himself) and an extremely unusual and rare Frank Marshall figure with control levers made of coin silver and a body jointed like a humans.
And, just take a look at Tom's collection of Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead puppets:
Vent Haven Museum curator Lisa Sweasy joined Tom and myself for a very enjoyable lunch and then I spent the rest of the afternoon just talking with Tom about great ventriloquists of the past and present.
Tom also has an extensive video library of many performances of vents and we watched several of those.
I was originally thinking I'd be out of town heading for home by 4pm, but we were having such a good conversation that when I looked at my watch it was after 6pm.
It was one of the most enjoyable days I've had in a long time.
Thanks Tom.
posted by Lee Cornell Sunday, October 26, 2008

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