Norakuro, the Japanese Felix?


Pam’s Pictorama Curiosity Post: Pictured above is a bowl and saucer with the jaunty Japanese chacter Norakuro that I picked up on eBay for a song – only because it was listed incorrectly, I’m sure. The amazing thing about this piece is that when you hold the bowl up to the light, voila! – the geisha appears in the bottom!  I love this fat cat-like dog and have had an eye out for a stuffed toy of him for a long time, but to date to no avail.  The few toys I have seen are astronomically expensive, (at the time of writing this two wooden toys are listed on eBay under Felix for upwards of $800), but one of these days I hope a stuffed one will cross my path when I am feeling flush.  I have also included a trading card which I assume is him (although he’s gained weight) or a rip-off similar character.  Alas. since I do not read Japanese I cannot say for sure. 


Lastly, I have included a link to a specimen cartoon on Youtube. It is in Japanese, but like most cartoons you can get most of the gist of it without understanding the dialogue. He isn’t as clever as Felix and his movements are distinctly Japanese – yet you can’t help but assume that they were looking at those early Felix cartoons. He’s in the army, rather than the sumo wrestler mode here. In the cartoon he practices looking fierce and samurai with his sword in the mirror before going out to drill.  He is most charming in his early comic book form.  I love to look at them – do wish I could read them!

Van Bueren’s Aesop Fables – the Toys!


Pam’s Pictorama Toy Extravaganza Post:  Hold onto your hats, this is a huge post! I started this morning with the photo of Jane Withers holding her wonderful Aesop Fable doll, the Princess, shown in a photo grab off the internet rather than a ham-handed photo of my own also rather pristine example – the first to enter my collection several years ago. Jane evidently had an enormous collection which she sold off in recent times.  (See for more info.)  One can only imagine what toys a child star had the chance to indulge herself in! I like this photo and it is one of the ones in more or less permanent rotation in our tiny home.

But onto the cartoons – and the toys! I never got to see these cartoons as a child. I have to assume that I would simply be a better person if I had been raised on them. I am convinced that their influence is one of the things that made my husband the extraordinary human being he is today. Certainly, they helped lure me over to him. I am including a photograph of his book Boulevard of Broken Dreams, although it wasn’t the first of his work I ever saw (his book Beyond the Pale was so I knew I liked him and it) the original comic books that ultimately made up Boulevard transformed me into a real fan.  jpeg

So, when I first heard about these dolls I was in love!  The only problem – they are about as rare as hen’s teeth and I only ever saw them in old ad photos such as the one above which is a Google image grab. As a collector there are somethings that make your pulse race and blind you to all thoughts except, “I must have it!”  These are among them. An expensive habit though. After several years I acquired the Princess through Hake’s auction, paying top dollar. Just in the past year I snatched up the other two – actually both were gifts from Kim.  One for my birthday (see me in black dress) and the other, in admittedly poor shape but much beloved, as part of a big art for toys trade he did as a surprise for me in San Francisco last year.

Finally, for good measure, I am throwing in a link to Making ‘Em Move, the Van Bueren cartoon I gather helped inform some of Boulevard and one of my very favorites. Enjoy!

Jes Call Me Bill






Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: A few years ago I hit a streak on eBay where someone was selling a film still archive and I just bought and bought and bought some more – Kim jumped in with me. With the exception of my still from Lazy Bones (which was how I fell into the whole wonderful thing) we just bought photos that were appealing, followed our noses – all photos from films we had never seen, many lost.  This one was identified on the back as Jes Call Me Bill, a Will Rogers film from 1920. This is just simply one of the most beautiful stills I have ever seen – hard to imagine the movie could live up to it. The film seems to exist but I haven’t seen it – Kim says he caught a bit of it on the tail end of a bootleg tape years ago.  This photo hangs where we can see it everyday and I often spend a few minutes dreaming in front of it.  Hope you like it as much as I do.




Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  The first time I remember seeing a photo paperweight was at my paternal grandparent’s house when I was a very small child – and I was fascinated by it! Those just had boring old people in them – it hadn’t occurred to my grandparents to put anything as cool as a cat or a dog photo in I guess. I just loved them – the heft, the frozen in time quality – I knew I needed to own some of these when I grew up. Then I forgot about them, for decades – until eBay!

Above, the solo cat is one of my prized possesions of an everyday kind and sits on my desk in my office. (For those of  you who are ongoing readers, are you starting to get the idea that my office has some pretty cool stuff? You’d be right. More to come.)  On a tough day he is always there to cheer me up. I recently rediscovered the dog and cats one on a shelf – love that! – and am thinking I should probably bring it to the office too. The street scene just evokes a slice of everyday life from the past – sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in a photo.

For a while I was buying these as gifts – a particularly nice Niagra Falls (I was obsessed with Niagra Falls photos in paperweights for a brief time) went to my friend Eileen, and my friend Betsy received an especially good one with a dog in it, I think. I just don’t have the space to collect them in large numbers, but would snap up a really good one if spotted. That probably doesn’t surprise you, right?


Some (Felix) Smalls



Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post:  Let’s start with some disclosure – the Felix pin is off of eBay and in decidedly better condition than the one I own.  That aside, we have some wonderful tiny items that were designed to enhance daily life in the 20’s or so. The first is a tape measure and pin cushion (a birthday gift from my rather wonderful husband) followed by a Felix pencil sharpener (Kim actually acquired this as a trade of “art for toys” for me when we visited San Francisco last year – man, what did I ever do to deserve him? I’m a lucky girl!) and last, but not least, a very nice Felix pin.  The one I own (if not an outright gift from Kim. one that he contributed to – there’s a theme here) is greatly discolored compared to this one and this photo was handy. Someone recently sent a photo of a car with Felix on the grill – it was a time of ribald Felix fun!  Sorry I missed it, but I’m doing my best to recreate it here in our small slice of heaven on the upper East side of Manhattan.




Franken-Felix, Part 1



Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post:  I have in my collection a whole shelf of what I call Franken-Felixes. This one here is a sort of do-it-yourself Felix and he falls loosely into this greater category, which is made up more of mismatched Felix parts reassembled and we will devote some time to exploring those at greater lengths in the future.  I have a soft spot for them. Meanwhile, this Felix doesn’t really appear to be from a pattern (those exist – even one to be knitted! – sadly, I don’t knit) but he sports a fairly professional design – if terribly off-model in a rather unique way. Maybe it was Krazy Kat they were looking at? However, should there be any doubt about his identity, they’ve taken the trouble to write his name on his bow tie! 

Mystery Toy


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I bought this photo postcard on eBay a few years back and I have absolutely no idea what the toy is. Why it is toned pink? Who is the babe? (An Aesop’s Fable doll perhaps?  Was there a pink equivalent to cyanotypes?)  To complicate things further, I admit I am not even sure the photo is still in my possession – unusual, as I am frankly not prone to giving away or selling anything.  Stuff that sticks to me tends to be more or less permanent, but I have a nagging feeling I gave this to someone who was wildly enamored of it.  I found the scan and I offer it up to you all for your general enjoyment and to see if anyone knows anything about it to share. Otherwise it remains a tiny slice of another world and time, passing through.

Peeved Puss Postcard




Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  I purchased this photo postcard in Seattle, where I remember feeling like I paid too much for it – although frankly I have no idea what that was now.  It has held a place of pride in my office for the many years since, and now I’m quite sure that it is worth whatever it was that I paid.

Clearly this trained kitty is none too thrilled performing for the camera, the big bow seems especially annoying to him or her. I love the presence of the photographer here – makes the photo.  I was just outbid on a somewhat similar one, French (this one from US) on eBay – that cat was sitting up for a cat treat though, and seemed happier about it for obvious reasons. It prompted me to share this one of a cat who is also working hard.  Hope you enjoy it!

Photo Collage – Blaming it on the Blog!


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  Okay, please know that I am officially blaming my acquisition of photo collages on this blog. I really wasn’t collecting them, but I started thinking about them after the first post – and now I find myself sliding over to look at them on eBay – and occasionally getting hooked on one, hence the recent acquisition above. Seems to have been made as a bookmark, judging from size and shape.  I just find it earnest and charming, and decided to save it from isolated obscurity by adding it to my merry band of photos.  Much like the one I posted on August 8, Flapper Page – Photo Album, I imagine a young girl, entertained by the availability of inexpensive photos having a high old time with scissors and a pot of glue. Despite what I was told in Art History 101, collage was clearly alive and well long before Picasso and Braque – let alone Dada!

Lucky Black Cat



Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  British swimmer, Ruthley Moris-Hancock, ’36 Olympics, holding her good luck stuffed kitty. This photo from the Olympia 1936 German, Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld photo album. A quick google search reveals that this is an often reproduced image on posters and things. Who knew? However, reminded me very much of my post of a week or so ago – Cat Hat, see August 9. Dolly and Ruthley share a fashion and good luck talisman statement, although Ruthley’s came more than a decade later – showing the durability of the black cat. Frankly, couldn’t find out much about Ruthley online – this may be her most distinguished moment. Below I have included the back of the card, for the German readers in the group.