1950s programs for Harlem Globetrotters & Magicians
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    Auction Finds

    Readers ask about Harlem Magicians program & dummy doll

    Fridays at Auction Finds is readers’ questions day. I try to guide readers to resources to help them determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    Today’s questions are about a Harlem Magicians souvenir program and a ventriloquist doll.

    Harlem Magicians' souvenir program

    The reader’s copy of a Harlem Magicians’ souvenir program with pencil markings.


    Harlem Magicians 1st annual tour program guide. Excellent condition except for date and something else written in pencil, only on front. What would be the value?


    This request came to me through my Contact page, so I’m not sure if the reader actually saw the blog post I wrote last year about this Harlem Magicians souvenir program. I picked up a copy of the same 1950s program at auction along with two others for the more-famous Harlem Globetrotters.

    According to the program, the Magicians were formed by two former Globetrotters, Reese “Goose” Tatum and Marques Haynes, who had left the team over a salary dispute. The program had no date but the cover announced that this was the “First Annual Tour” of the Magicians, whose first season was 1953-1954.

    Programs for Harlem Globetrotters and Harlem Magicians

    Two of the 1950s souvenir programs for the Harlem Globetrotters and Harlem Magicians that sold at auction.

    When I wrote the blog post, I was more interested in the history of the Magicians, which I had never heard of before, and the Globetrotters than the value of the program.

    In a recent search of eBay, which I always suggest as one of the first places to start, I found two copies of this particular souvenir program that sold for $49.99 to $80. Some other Magicians’ programs sold for less or not at all. Some vintage Harlem Globetrotters programs sold for less or not at all on eBay and some retail sites.


    Looking for a ventriloquist dummy doll like Danny. Eye, hand and mouth movement that can be operated from the back of the doll. Around 32 inches in height. Prefer dark skin color if possible. Need price!

    Lester appeared to be listening as Danny O' Day talked.

    Lester appeared to be listening as Danny O’Day talked.


    This reader had come across a blog post I wrote three years ago about two ventriloquist dolls up for sale at auction. The dolls seemed to be conversing with each other. I did not buy them, as I don’t purchase many of the items I write about.

    One of the dummies was Danny O’Day, the sidekick of ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson and the star of those Nestle’s Quik chocolate commercials from the 1950s and 1960s. The other was Lester, a black doll that performed with Willie Tyler starting in the late 1960s. Its head was a Howdy Dowdy mold that was darkened. Here’s a Tyler and Lester McDonald’s commercial from the 1980s.

    Danny didn’t come in a dark-skin version, but the dummy did have a dog named Farfel and a red-haired girlfriend named Hayley O’Hara.

    Two of the reader’s choices for dark-complexioned dolls are Lester and Willie Talk, which was made as black and white dolls. I would suggest that the reader Google and check eBay for a doll that talks. I found Lester offered at prices under $100 on eBay. I was not able to find a black Willie Talk on the web.

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