Pam Photo Post: These bizarre Felix photos are like catnip to me and I went to the wall to acquire this one recently, despite its damage. It appears to have been glued into an album (Felix’s family album perhaps?) and somewhat rudely peeled away. It has left it somewhat crinkly. It is a wonderful trick of the camera’s focus (and a tiny croquette set) that makes Felix appear to be human-sized. It was in fact advertised as a child in a Felix costume. I am pretty sure I recognize (and own) the model toy here. (He was featured in the post Toy Hospital earlier this year.)
It is a fascinating photo – it is not a postcard, although it is roughly that size, a bit bigger. It sets my imagination ablaze – what exactly did the photographer have in mind and how did it end up in an album? Who had the doll-sized croquet set if my assumptions are correct? It would have been taken by a canny photographer which, as I mention above, created the illusion. Or am I wrong and it is an extra-large size Felix? It does remind me of the utterly extraordinary larger-than-life Felixes in my post Greetings from Felix in Kuala Lumpur where he appears to be directing traffic or something along those lines on the streets of the city.
As for croquet – it was well established in the United States by the late 1860’s, although its origin is in Britain. Some folks might be surprised to know that Central Park has long been a permanent home to croquet and lawn bowling societies. Although a very long-standing feature of the Park, I doubt an original one dubbed by Olmsted who preferred only seasonal entertainments and no permanent playgrounds or facilities in his original design. Still, there is something distinctly British about our American man Felix here. As we know, the Brits embraced Felix even more deeply than we in his homeland and indeed, this photograph was wrested from a dealer in Great Britain.
I will seek some advice from friends who restore photos at the Met to see if there is anything to be done for this little beauty – or at least the best way to frame and preserve it from further damage. If we make any significant improvement I promise to a follow up post.