Could ventriloquism fool people into violence?

"Get outa my way fat head before I punch your nose!"

From the Johnson Smith catalog of 1929:
Boys! Throw your voice into a trunk, under the bed or anywhere. Lots of fun fooling teacher, policeman or friends. The Ventrilo is a little instrument, fits in the mouth out of sight, used with above Bird Calls, etc. Anyone can use it. Never fails. A 64-page course on Ventriloquism together with the Ventrilo. All for 10¢ postpaid.
And here's the book included with your order.

No. 3461 
Art of Ventriloquism
How to Throw Your Voice 
by George W. Calahan
With Instructions For Using and Making 
The Ventrilo (See chapter 8)
Published by Johnson Smith & Company,
Detroit, Michigan

The Ventrilo was similar to a Swiss Warbler or Double Throat which makes bird sounds, or a Swazzle, used to make the sound of the puppet character Punch in a Punch and Judy show.

The Ventrilo was a piece of thin membrane in a metal frame, and made noise when your breath vibrated that membrane, the same principle used in a kazoo. You would hide the Ventrilo inside your mouth, and you could make high-pitched noises.

The Ventrilo device looked something like this.

The ad says:
"The Ventrilo is a little instrument, fits in the mouth out of sight, used with above Bird Calls, etc. Anyone can use it. Never fails."
That's true. The Ventrilo does fit in the mouth out of sight, and you can make bird calls with it, and anyone can use it. But that doesn't mean that the Ventrilo is used to make the sound of a human voice coming from anywhere.

Did you assume that? Ah, then you were deceived a bit by the ad, weren't you?

If you wanted to learn how to make a human voice coming from somewhere else, you needed to learn the art of ventriloquism, and study the rest of the 64-page book. And, by the way, about half of the book was ads for other products you could buy.


Here's another Ventrilo ad. Come on, it's only 10¢...

1 comment:

  1. I remember reading this ad as a youth and wondering what this marvelous 10¢ device was that could be placed in your mouth to allow you to throw your voice.

    I never learned what they were selling as my father dissuaded me from sending in my money. He didn't know what a Ventrilo was either, but was wise enough to smell a scam.

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