However, they really came into their own in seaside resorts in the 19th century as railways delivered the holidaying masses.
Cirencester saleroom Cotswold Auction Company offered a collection of related memorabilia on November 29.
Such was the demand, a bidding battle between a phone bidder and a room bidder that was fought over a lot of seven painted and carved wood Punch and Judy puppets estimated at £150-300 took the hammer price to £4600 (plus 22% buyer’s premium).
The lot contained a few classic pieces, including a sausage machine and a crocodile. However, according to the saleroom, the most important pieces in the lot were Punch and Judy themselves, thought to have been made c.1890 by ‘Professor’ Albert Rose, a scenery painter for the English National Opera based in Great Yarmouth.
At the weekends his passion was putting on Punch and Judy shows on Gorleston-on-Sea and other Norfolk beaches.
An extensive set of Frank Edmonds Weymouth pattern papiermâché Punch and Judy puppets brought £1100 (guide £150-250).
The lot included a ghost, clown and policeman, and a copy of the Harlequin Press Weymouth & Mr Punch book.
Edmonds worked Weymouth beach for 50 years.
An individual highlight was an early 20th century, possibly Lehmann, German tinplate acrobatic Punch, about (24.5cm) long, which took £1050 (estimate £40-60).