It’s a Bonzo Valentine

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I am kicking off the Valentine’s Day season of ’22 with this somewhat unusual eBay find. This rather realistic looking black and white kit holds a very correctly rendered Bonzo dog!

The cat and Bonzo aren’t quite looking at each other and sort of look like they are from different planets. It is easy to imagine that the job was handed off from one artist to the next for the work to be completed, the two never necessarily meeting. I’ve got you for My Valentine is the sole sentiment dangling from Bonzo’s foot on a heart.

I like the designs of the paw pads on Bonzo’s feet! But that and something about his paws makes me wonder if he was rendered off of one of the stuffed toys, rather than the magazine published drawings. The design is more stylized than the drawings are. Meanwhile, Bonzo is reaching up toward kitty like a babe in arms. (I own several wonderful Bonzo toys and some past posts of those can be found here, here and even one with a stuffed version of his cat friend, Ooloo also shown below, here.)

Bonzo toy from Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

Kitty is fairly traditional for a black cat Valentine if printed a bit dark here. There are a few scars on this and a bit of white something which has gotten on it over time. On the cat’s white paw which is visible, it is marked Germany. This Valentine is unmarked on the back; there is a cardboard strip that enables this to stand, if shakily, for display.

Germany was square one for Valentines as it was the heart of the printing industry for several decades. Evidently Valentines Day as we celebrate it (as a commercial fiesta of chocolate, cards and jewelry) was introduced into Germany in the 1940’s by the American GI’s stationed there, although the printing of Valentines in Germany pre-dates WWII. Interrupted by the war it rebounds as a printing empire after and continues to reign on this front for awhile beyond. Being identified as German made carried a negative connotation after the war however and somewhat dampened enthusiasm for their Valentines.

Ooloo, Bonzo’s little known cat friend. Toy in Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

A Valentine history site informs me that the simple identification of Germany dates this card to before the 1930’s. It is not in the class of elaborate German Valentines however, which can be very three dimensional, large and made of heavy cardboard.

Studdy drawn Bonzo Valentine, not in Pictorama collection.

Meanwhile, Bonzo is no stranger to Valentine’s Day and a quick search turns up a number of variations available in addition to this one, numerous ones drawn by Studdy, but also many broad “tributes” we might say. We’ll see if some others make their way to the Pictorama collection in the future. I have a real soft spot for the stuffed toys so Bonzo fans keep an eye on Pams-Pictorama.com.

Dreams of Krampus

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Welcome to the Pictorama reveal of the Deitch Studio holiday card memorializing the year that was, 2021. A tip o’ the hat this year to Kim who carried the ball a bit more than usual and this one has a slightly more Deitchian appeal which is always a good thing. (For those of you just joining this year some previous card reveals can be found here and here for starters.)

I only learned about Krampus as an adult, although years ago now. I do find this sort of shadow Santa fascinating and the idea that not only was Santa watching to make sure you were nice and not naughty, but this dark side Santa was going to come after you if you were a very bad kid. It makes sense though that Santa wouldn’t be all sweetness and light – I mean, how interesting is that after all.

The stuff of holiday nightmares.

While the concept of Krampus has its roots in a Norse underworld character the name Krampus is derived from a German name. I gather that there are German and Austrian festivals (which not surprisingly involve some drinking) where the Krampus story is played out via a run through town by Krampus glad participants. The runners carry sticks, like those used to beat said naughty children, and scare onlookers. Can’t say I am sorry to have missed this. The Catholic Church at one time made an effort to ban Krampus which was, given his increasing popularity, clearly unsuccessful.

Cookie and Blackie – photo taken because they so rarely sleep together! Inspiration for the card.

Our Krampus has all of the key characteristics – a hairy beast with great lolling and pointed tongue, goat horns and cloven feet, but we’ve replaced the beating chains and sticks with lightening bolts.

Poor Cookie and Blackie are clearly fretting about and totting up their misdeeds this year – poor kits! – and sharing a mutual dream of this monster. Oh gosh though, who in thinking about 2021 doesn’t feel a bit like this sums it all up? No worries though – Cookie and Blackie will receive toys, catnip and ear rubs Christmas morning just as they always do. And 2022 will dawn in a week and we’ll all turn the page and hope for a truly great New Year!

Black Cat Fiesta

Pam’s Pictorama Post: We’re speeding down October’s path on a less than 24 hour countdown to another Halloween. It is a truly dark and stormy morning as I write this and I do hope it clears sufficiently for the activities of tomorrow for the local little ones – the holiday seems challenged enough in its Covid incarnation this year. Here at Pictorama I am sharing a few additional howlin’ Halloween bits I collected over the last few months in my search for all things early 20th century black cat related. Today’s items are from my go-to girl for Halloween items (and some other interesting bits) who hails from the Midwest, @missmollystlantiques, aka Molly Simms.

I have written recently about how Miss Molly has helped me achieve some of my early Halloween collecting goals. (One of those posts can be found here.) These little items today are some icing on the collecting cake and a reminder that one of the nice things about holiday decorations is that they were used and often lovingly stored each year, making for a great survival rate.

Dennison’s Bogie Book from the teens. Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

I can only say I wish the Dennison’s Black Cat streamer was sufficiently sturdy to put up in the apartment. They are very jolly and I can imagine them decorating the space above our bookcases nicely. (Perhaps I could press them in plexi? I wonder if they would survive the light? It is so fragile!)

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

This black cat banner immediately stirs an image of a much earlier Halloween party, say 1916, dripping with such decorations – table groaning with paper mache jack-o-lanterns and nut cups. I was collecting the Dennison books years ago, as below (that early 2015 post can be found here). Some wonderful copies were being put out for awhile – for you fellow collectors who may have missed them, poke around. The image that they present of the well appointed Halloween party from the teens has stayed with me – one chock-a-block and dripping with crepe paper creations. Those folks at Dennison’s knew how to sell crepe paper! I cannot help but feel there is a better steward of this particular fragile paper bit of history. Nevertheless, I will do my best until the next person comes along.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Less fragile and easier to revel in, is this cardboard Halloween Quiz overseen by a grinning bow-tied black cat and this serious owl. There is a 1940 copyright to H. E. Luhrs and a quick internet search shows that the Luhrs name was a significant one in ’40’s and ’50’s Halloween decorations and die-cuts. They were the maker of what I think of as the classic skeleton decoration (the one I would want if I wanted a skeleton) and evidently the “spinning” (it doesn’t really spin and I somehow doubt it ever did) fortune teller which they employed with several designs. While I could not find a proper history of the company, at a glance I would say they were the poor man’s version of Beistle, a somewhat more substantial maker of Halloween ephemera.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Questions run down one side of my version of the Quiz with answers on the right. Two spins would give you both a question and an answer – the answer might require that you perform the required stunt to achieve it. Questions range from Am I studious? to Do I like old people? and answers are along the lines of If you can twirl a pencil like a baton without dropping it the answer is no.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

I end with this small black cat jack-o-lantern style container which probably held treats on a very well appointed Halloween table. It survives in virtually pristine condition. No tricks, only treats here at Pictorama today. Have a Happy Black Cat Halloween!