Here is a gallery of classic

Insull/Davenport vent figures restored in our studio

The fine figures pictured in this gallery are the handiwork of

renowned British figuremaker Leonard Insull (1883-1974). 


He almost singlehandedly defined the art of the vent figure in Great Britain and Europe for many years with the whimsical "cheeky boy" designs and the remarkably fine leather work on the moving mouth (upper and lower lip) and eyelids.


The figures (which were primarily sold through his dealer, London's Davenport Magic Company) are  still in use by vents around the world.

However on the used market they are becoming scarcer and scarcer, especially in good condition; unfortunately these heads very often only turn up for sale after a less than authentic restoration job.

These first examples have ALL THE AVAILABLE MOVEMENTS (upper/lower lip, raising eyebrows, winking/blinking eyelids, and flapping ears) and have been lovingly and carefully restored to their original condition (using the same ultra fine grade soft kid leather for the moving parts), with a careful eye towards retaining their collector's value while at the same time, ready to provide many, many more years of actual performance use.

Here's a vintage Insull “TOBY PHILPOT JUG” which we recently restored with a slightly different approach

This restoration was done with an aim to preserve the 'antique' look, rather than to bring it into 'new' condition. In addition to servicing the inside mechanics, which had become sluggish due to some serious oxidation of the metal parts, both upper and lower mouth leathers have been replaced with new kid leather.  The eye color was also changed (at the request of the owner) to blue from the original brown.

In conclusion, ever since 1973 when we were first contracted to do an Insull  restoration for the Tannen Magic Company in New York City (after being recommended for the job by one of my mentors--the late, great Al Flosso), the aim has always been to be faithful to the character and style of the original artist whether bringing the figure into “new” condition for modern performance use OR retaining the elements of age that give additional character to figures used for historical display. 

We can take a vintage Insull figure (or almost any other figure for that matter) in almost ANY condition, and restore it for any end purpose.

All text and photos contained herein is ©1994 - 2014 by Alan Semok.

No photos, text, media files, or illustrations appearing in these pages may be used without express written permission.

updated 4 March 2014