Painted moulded plaster head and neck of a man. It was produced by Leo Sterne at his factory in Leicester Street, Carlton in 1958. It was made as a prototype for a line of children's ventriloquist dolls based on the Channel 9 TV character `Gerry Gee', and was used to get approval from Gerry's owner, ventriloquist Ron Blaskett. The design was later changed, after people complained that it looked nothing like Gerry Gee.
A young male's doll head and elongated neck, moulded from plaster and painted skin tone, with painted eyes, eye brows, cheeks and lips. The head is hollow, and is bald.
The collection of Melbourne Toy manufacturer L.J.Sterne (Leo J. Sterne) was donated to the History Collection of Museum Victoria in 1990 by the executers of his estate. Containing over 300 items it is, however, largely a paper-based collection, featuring catalogues, advertising brochures, flyers, packaging, photographs and certificates, as well as some doll parts (such as limbs, eyes and wigs) and other items from the manufacturing process. There are only around seven or eight examples of the company's finished product (most of which came from other sources than the Sterne Estate donation), so the head and the jig dolls are wonderful additions to the collection. They fit in perfectly with the proposed future collecting directions of the Museum's Childhood Collection Policy, which is to focus on acquiring Victorian manufactured toys, particularly those which build on existing collections. As objects, they also enhance the display potential of the L.J. Sterne collection in looking at manufacturing in Melbourne and its decline, early children's television production, and Sterne as an immigration story.
The head is also interesting as representing the design and manufacturing process which goes into toys such as the Gerry Gee Jr. The jig dolls have added interest as an example of the way non-europeans have been represented in manufactured goods in Australia.
The vendor is the niece of Leol Sterne, and was left the items after he died.
Type of item
Email correspondence from vendor (copies printed for supplementary file.) `Gerry Gee and Me', Ron Blaskett (2001); `The Encyclopedia of Australian Dolls', Marjory Fainges (1993)