Punch and Judy shows were familiar sights on the streets throughout the 19th century, their performances often heralded by a drums or panpipes played by the Punchman’s accomplice or ‘bottler’ whose job collecting the money in a bottle gave rise to his soubriquet. In 1801 Joseph Strutt described the meagre existence of a contemporary puppeteer:
In the present day the puppet-show man travels about the streets when the weather will permit, and carries his motions with the theatre itself, upon his back. The exhibition takes place in the open air; and the precarious income of the miserable itinerant depends entirely on contributions of the spectators, which as far as one may judge from the square appearance he makes, is very trifling.
Joseph Strutt: Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, 1801