Popgun. Wooden handle painted red with rubber washer at hilt. Handle joined to wooden dowel inserted in varnished wooden cylinder. Cork plug at other end of cylinder, joined to dowel with string. Blue and red rings painted around cylinder.

Made in Eastern Europe in about 1990, this popgun was donated to London's Horniman Museum in 1992 by museum curator Dr. Frances Palmer, whose children played with it while growing up in South London. The gun is operated by a simple piston that fires a cork attached to a piece of string. The popgun is the type of toy that doubles as an effective noisemaker and this aspect gives it a certain musical potential that has been employed in such diverse settings as the nursery rhyme 'Pop Goes the Weasel' and Thomas Ades' 1995 chamber opera 'Powder Her Face', where it was used as part of a 15 instrument ensemble which also included a flexatone, accordion and a fishing reel!

Collection Information

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