Puppets from the smash-hit play “War Horse” were auctioned at Bonhams London raising $90,000 (L68,000) for the Handspring Trust.

Seen by more than 7 million people worldwide, the play “War Horse” is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. The heart-breaking story, set during the First World War, revolves around a young farmer boy, Albert, whose beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Albert resolves to bring Joey home.


The puppets, which are central to the success of the play, were designed and made in South Africa by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of Handspring Puppet Company, assisted by an array of highly creative artisans employed by the company between 2010 and 2014. Each set of puppets for War Horse took eight months to create and are made of cane, leather and Tyvek, (for the manes and tails), a material used in book-binding. The torsos are reinforced with aluminum and strong enough to carry a rider. In all 8 sets of puppets were made, 3 are stored for future productions and The Victoria & Albert Museum owns one set. The auctioned puppets were signed and numbered 1/5 by Adrian Kohler, Handspring’s Master Puppeteer.


Recipient of the auction’s proceeds, the Handspring Trust was founded by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of Handspring Puppet Company and is, in its own words, “a not-for-profit organization seeking to inspire creativity, commitment and innovation towards new puppet theater arts”. The trust’s main focus is on a group of young people in Barrydale. Each December, a National Day of Reconciliation is celebrated and they produce a parade and performance of giant puppets using Handspring’s team of puppet makers and theater producers.

Edited from the Following Resources: https://www.bonhams.com/press_release/22118/, http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/15/the-horses-from-war-horse-sell-for-90000-at-auction.html

Building the War Horse Puppets

Joey, star puppet of War Horses, meets police horses Sardelli and Adonis

Joey the War Horse meets Providence Mounted Command horses Sardelli and Adonis in fron of the Providence Performing Arts Center. Danny Yoerges, head, Brian Robert Burns, heart, and Jessica Krueger, hind, are the actor/puppeteers that bring Joey to life. Patrol offices Tara DaSilva rides Sardelli and many Soares is on Adonis.

Courtesy Providence Journal Video by Sandor Bodo, 2013.