Oskar

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Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post:  This little fellow is one of my favorite and most inspired impulse buys. I bought him for a song when he was put up for auction with very little, if any, information. It was several years before I learned that his name is Oskar and that he was produced by Teddy Hermann, a German toy company. He is about 8″ high and he is a natty and roguish presence on the cat shelf. Kim and I have often speculated that you tend to find Oskar routinely in compromising positions with the other stuffed cats, no matter what shelf you put him on.

I suspect he might be somewhat incomplete when it comes to accessories, especially when I compare him to his younger cousin below. (Although they both look like they would always be up for a night of drinking and carousing – how often can you say that about a toy?) He is unlike any of my other cat toys. He has a head made of composition, mohair body and a hand-knit appearing sweater – the photo of his back is dark but you can see the little heart sewn onto his bottom. However, like my Felix toys, it is a bit hard to imagine buying Oskar for your child.  He is, in my opinion, an adult toy.

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This photo from an old eBay (May 2010) listing I found in the Google picture file serves to confirm my feeling.  According to the listing, he was made in the 1950’s as a promotional item for the Frankfurter Illustrierte Journal. He has a rubber face, as opposed to composition, a jauntier sweater and that cheerful neckerchief.  He’s also fluffier. I do wonder if my Oskar was also a promotional item – makes sense – although why a weekly German picture paper (as described on German Wikipedia) would be giving away Oskar as a promotion remains an interesting mystery.  My kind of paper I guess.

Postscript:  Some amazing and very interesting information about Oskar and the Frankfurter Illustrierte Journal via a German Facebook friend, Joachim Trinkwitz. I have copied it below. Mr. Google seems willing to translate…

  • Joachim Trinkwitz “why a weekly German picture paper (as described on German Wikipedia) would be giving away Oskar as a promotion remains an interesting mystery” – because that’s Oskar der Familienvater (the family man), a german newspaper comic strip character from the 1950s. His creator, the cartoonist Carl Fischer AKA Cefischer, actually lost both his arms in WW II, but learned to draw with his mouth and got very popular and successful in West Germany. But nowadays, he’s completely forgotten …

    Joachim Trinkwitz's photo.
    Joachim Trinkwitz Oskar has a Wikipedia page indeed:http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_(Comic), as well as his creator. Lambiek’s Comiclopedia has some information in English, and a few pictures:http://www.lambiek.net/artists/c/cefischer.htm

    Oskar ist die bekannteste Comicfigur des deutschen Zeichners Cefischer. Die Geschichten von Oskar und seiner Familie erschienen von 1952 bis 1962 in der Frankfurter Illustrierten und wurden während dieser Zeit und auch danach in Buchform nachgedruckt.
    DE.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

Passin’ Through

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  This card would be pretty interesting even if it was just the musicians, but I really love that it was snapped as the cat was tip toeing through.  Everyone is looking sort of like they just stepped out of a band box – oops, pun I guess. But truly, the neat straw hats, her dress – this is their good bib and tucker.  No idea where this was taken and frankly, the background does look a bit down and out.  A photo postcard with no writing on the back. I would like to hear them play. I imagine it was jolly despite the frayed surroundings.

The cat is the same black and white cow print as my very first cat and best friend when I was a tiny tot, the aptly named Snoopy. A very nice cat, a bit heavier in the tum than this fine looking fellow. When I was a little older we acquired several more cats, all fairly territorial, as cats will be about their yard. Our neighbors, meanwhile, had a marmalade tabby tom of medium size – I think his name was Phil. Somehow this rather shy and peace-loving cat had negotiated a treaty with our cats whereby he could enter the yard as long as he kept moving – was allowed to cross it – without being chased. He would pass with a determined, steady and continuous stride at all hours of the day and night. He was renamed and forever known to the Butler clan as Passin’ Through. This cat has that same let me get out of here yet un-hurried look just like Passin’ Through used to have. While I am not sure, maybe there is a cat as diplomat lesson to be learned there.  If not, we still have the great photo.

White Cat and the Art of Motorcycle Riding

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Bought this photo of the cat on the motorcycle recently, and then scooped up the mate, the one with the boy, subsequently so they would stay together.  However, it is the photo of the cat alone on the bike that really appeals and gets the imagination going.  Much to my surprise, these are tiny snap shots, although with lots of information on those negs considering how nicely they blow up.  (I seem to be bad about comprehending the size of photos when I buy them online – I assume the information is there, but for some reason it seldom seems to penetrate my brain – all focused on the image.)  Don’t know much about it, but I really love this old motorcycle – barely more than a bike with an engine.  Perfect for a cat to drive…

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It brought to mind this Felix-y photo which I have already shared here (September 13,  Mysteries of Felix) which, although not a motorcycle seems to be a car of roughly the same period and, of course, another white cat.  Like the motorcycle photos those are also tiny photos – less information though and they start to disintegrate when blown up too much.

Being a non-driver myself, I cannot speak to the affinity of cats and transportation, but I suggest you watch them around your keys.

Strange Hijinxs

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The cat photo is a recent purchase and it made me dig out the other, which I have had for years and was sitting on a shelf.  I guess it is the peering between the trees thing that scratched at my brain.  I love the photo of the cat showing his (or her) tummy in the tree, although it does make you wonder what the heck they were thinking.  I mean, if the cat liked to hang out in the tree like that, that why do you need to hold him up for the photo?  Cat looks concerned – often do in photos I have noticed.  This isn’t a large photo, about 3″x5″ and you can see where it used to fit into an album. Hmmm, wonder what else was on that page.

The other one is a photo postcard and a terrific photo.  Clearly the folks are having some fun, although I suspect the specifics might be somewhat lost to us. I like the way the dog is looking one way and the man in the tree the other. Perfect reflection in the water which adds to it too. I do wonder how I even found this photo (no cat in it to turn up on a search) which brings to mind one of the things I do not like about living in the age of eBay.  Ebay is beyond wonderful for finding things you are looking for, but is somewhat limited to what you are looking for – it is not impossible, but a bit harder to stumble on things you didn’t know about, the way you might at a flea market digging through a dusty box.  I have managed, and this photo is evidence – and I am the first to say that the good outweighs the bad!

A Jolly Tintype

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have owned this tintype for a number of years – pulled it out of a box at a big photography fair and plunked on the wall at work where it has remained since. I have an ongoing fascination with the happy fantasy of a really splendid photo set like this one. Who wouldn’t be having the time of their life posed here?

Mom and her two sons I guess – I especially like the American flag and the boating banners waving.  North Beach – San Francisco and the Wharf? This tintype is reproduced at about full size, maybe a smidge larger.  When you take into account the rushed and repetitive process of these little wet plate photos, at a fair or seaside resort, undoubtedly developed in a pail of filthy chemicals that saw dozens or more that day – it amazes me that this photo and so many like it have survived and have such lasting power. Aside from a chemical smudge and a fingerprint or two, nice composition, it’s a solid little photograph. I always think that I would have liked to have been there, and would have been proud to produce it.

Cat in a Box

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  Introducing a nice little fellow, immortalized in his (or her) favorite spot.  Anyone who has a cat knows that they can rarely resist a box.  There is, of course, the most famous box loving cat of our day, Maru:

which proves that cats the world over are the same.

And this photo helps reminds us that it has also been ever thus. People are the same too and we have loved recording our adorable darlings in their irresistible poses first in daguerreotype, then wet plate, and endlessly on film. One imagines that the “cloud” is weighed down with digital cat images and, let’s face it, where would Youtube be without them? I worry though about the future of those digital images.  Where are tomorrow’s cat pictures of today?

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Cookie examines a recently arrived package in our apartment