NY Band Instrument Co.

Pam’s Pictorama Advertising Post: It is perhaps obvious to Pictorama readers, but I will start by stating that I like stuff. While I think of myself as a toy and photo collector (and those predominantly of cats, of course) I am also fascinated by what I guess you might call collectibles. These often fall in the category of advertising – give aways (pins, calendars, cards, rulers and the like) that would keep you in mind of a product or establishment. The disappearance of the flea market as this sort of collecting occurs more frequently online makes the finding and acquisition of such tidbits harder I believe, however I accept the challenge.

These items fall soundly in the category of you didn’t know you wanted it (or that it existed) until you saw it. I believe my favorite are the cat pin trays I discuss in my past post Corbin Canadian Cats. This was the sort of stuff I stumbled on and went nuts over as a kid and young adult, and I miss having as many opportunities to paw through piles of stuff and find such things. Nonetheless, necessity is the mother of invention and I have managed to find some interesting oddities online as well and here I present one today.

Of course it is this rather dignified looking kitty on this pin that attracted me and brought this item into my sphere. It is so interesting to me that cats have always been used to sell pretty much any and everything and this tom had been employed to hawk the N.Y. Band Instrument Co. While kitty is great I can’t help but point out that it is far superior and, for me, made irresistible by the little stitched holder he resides in. Tucked into this sleeve it is this way (and this way only) that we know that he was created to ply the wares of the N.Y. Band Instrument Co. Everything Musical, 111 East 14th Street, NEW YORK and 1225 Broadway, Brooklyn. I do wonder what it is that you would have been required to purchase at said establishment to earn you this little gem – a trumpet perhaps? Or just a pile of sheet music? Did folks immediately take it out of its holder (which they then lost) and poke it into their lapel? I know I would have. I was tempted to do it as soon as it arrived in the mail.

The internet does lend an interesting spin to this research and it was a matter of only seconds after inquiring before I was able to learn that the N.Y. Band Instrument Co. was once the largest music store in New York. The genesis of the company, originally known as the N.Y. Musical Instrument Company in its first incarnation, seems to have been a small import and maker of instruments which was born down the street from the address near Union Square, at 12 Cooper Square back in 1913.

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Undated photo of the store front, Horn-u-copia.net

 

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Steinway Hall at this address in 1875, this image from the Museum of the City of NY

 

The founders are noted to have been (Max) William Renz (a piano maker) and the Swiss born, Louis Ortlieb. The store on 14th Street appears to have been established by 1925 (I guess Steinway moved on) and the building included studios on the top floor which were rented to music teachers. It is a bit uncertain, but it would appear that they were in business in one form or another until 1950. The site of the building appears to have morphed into NYU dorms and is now apartments, according to the Zillow real estate site. (For these historical details I give a nod to the book, Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1942, available online, and the site Horn-u-copia.) I was unable to find any information about the Brooklyn location, only that an African market currently claims the address.

This thriving establishment advertised frequently in the New York papers of the day, however it is a bit of patter from Jacob’s Band Monthly, in April of 1921, next to an ad for Toneking brass instruments placed by our friends at the New York Band Instrument Company , that best captures the spirit of music selling of the day and more,

SUMMING up the successful men of the past and present we find them all to be men of POWER It was power that won the world war. The most powerful engine the best success of an automobile and confidence are inspired by the of power. How can the beginner [of] the study of music gain this power? That is of the first questions with which the student is confronted. In trombone, power is attained in proportion to degree of control of the embouchure in words the better lip the more power will be to the tone and the less fatigue there be experienced. Power also comes from ability to concentrate regarding which I written previously I would now further every student to bear this subject in mind for when he has developed power of concentration his power to advance will be increased amazingly…

 

An Anniversary Felix Redux

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Once in awhile I surprise myself and see something on eBay I decide I really want, bar the expense, in a way that I cannot quite explain. Now admittedly, really, who wouldn’t want this really spectacular item? Still, why I decide sometimes that I will go to the wall for something and other times just decide it will be too expensive and move on, I’m not sure. As it happens, it did not matter – as I am the luckiest wife in the world – Kim knew of my yearnings and bought this lovely item for me for our anniversary yesterday. (And to think I just bought him a book!) More on the anniversary in a bit below.

As savvy Pictorama readers may know, I own another version of this, purchased almost exactly a year ago, and crowed over in my post Felix Trinket Tray. I show that item here. As you can see, it is the exact same bottom, unpainted, with a somewhat ham handed Felix at the top. He is in the reverse position of the painted version just acquired.

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Felix the Cat Trinket Tray, Pams-Pictorama.com collection

 

That one never made it to my office, but I think this one will. I am an utter sucker for this version of Felix. It is as if he has come out of his thinking pose into an “Ah ha” resolution moment. He is the earlier, pointy design I like best. Little lead figures of this style exist and I almost wonder if they didn’t just stick one of those on. (And for all I know there are all sorts of non-Felix figures sprouting off atop these brass desk caddy bases.) I am thinking of the Pixieland Kew version of small painted lead toys, like soldiers. (There are versions by other companies with different Felix designs.) Here is one I pulled off the internet and it looks like a fit. I do not own one, but to my knowledge they are the same size as my man atop his perch. Meanwhile, I am quite sure I will be all the smarter at work for having him on my desk.

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Pixieland Kew Felix, not in Pictorama collection

 

I am not sure I will ever entirely unravel the mysteries of the myriad way the British threw together these items during the height of the Felix fueled mayhem. I am just grateful for their sheer abundance which has resulted in a good survival rate ninety years later.

For those who are counting anniversaries, this year is #17 on the marriage side, although we tend to add another six for our time together prior to that. (I admit that I noted to myself that getting married in 2000 was a good idea because it would be easy to remember. Columbus Day is a marker too. Unlike Kim whose mind locks onto dates, mine has always been mushy and wandering on that score.) The anniversary of our first date comes up in a few weeks, over Veteran’s Day. I wrote about that way back at the beginning of Pictorama and just turned that post up here, Anniversary Special. In looking back I remembered that Kim helped me track down and buy this nice Snowy last year. (He was also blogged in the post, Snowy.) I am suddenly overwhelmed to realize that when I traveled to France last fall for the Met that my new job was not even a twinkle in my eye yet. Time does indeed fly, and you never know what anniversary you may be celebrating in a year.

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Snowy was last year’s anniversary gift!

Flying High

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Quite frankly, I saw those plates on the wall with the airplanes and kept being drawn back to this photo which I ultimately purchased, uncontested, on eBay recently. There is no writing on it and I am a fan of the mid-century ruffled border of the photo. While there is no particular reason to believe that the event these women are anticipating has anything to do with the airplane plates, I keep going back to them and wondering – fascinated by the way they are strung precisely across the top part of this room. I love collecting and enjoy seeing documentation of other people’s evidence of it. This is a nice example. I like the idea that someone collected these plates and then decorated this room with them. Splendid.

I did some quick research and I was unable to find these actual plates – the plates in the photo have a distinct horizon line and simplicity which I cannot find in another set. Similar plates were (or are) made by several different, mostly British, companies. UK eBay is full of variations, but the Davenport Wings of Fame plate series is the one that comes up first and most. I share those below, each with a month of the year.

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My favorite is March’s Rescue at Sea. (They evidently have names, perhaps on the back?)

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I like the plates on the wall of this photo better than these, which in all fairness appear to be slightly cheesier. There are seven on the wall in the photo and it does beg the question of if they are an earlier version of this plate of the month series. There would in theory be more or less just enough to go around this room.

This smallish table somehow manages to have eight place settings on it which seems ambitious – although I think I have had six people eat around our flat files so I guess one can do anything if a bit creative. There is a general festive sense about the scene, and it is easy to assume that it is documenting the anticipation of a happy occasion. The Siamese cat, who seems to have a grouch on, is the only exception to an otherwise jolly scene, but we know how cats can be – you can’t judge general ambiance by them. The two women are attractive and seems to be genuinely happy, not just smiling for the camera, and who (besides kitty) can blame the one for scooping up puss for posterity in the photo? From the clothes, make up and general look I would put this photo in the late forties or early fifties. My guess is that it was indeed a lovely day.

 

Valentine’s Day Kitties

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This was a rare case of purchasing something I thought was old which turned out not to be – and it didn’t matter because I love them! I haven’t exactly figured out what to do with them – they are sort of Christmas ornaments for Valentine’s Day, but I like ’em either way. My only complaint was that in order to get the diversity I wanted it was necessary to order two lots and I have ended up with a lot of ornaments! I guess there will be some Valentine’s Day gifts to friends this year.

As some of you who either know me (in the corporeal sense), or have followed the Facebook postings of Deitch Studio and Pictorama faithfully, are already aware of – my birthday is in February, perilously close to Valentine’s Day. A one-two punch burden to boyfriends and eventually my husband. However, as a child it meant a long and cheerful line of Valentine’s Day themed birthday parties. (For the record, my sister Loren – born on the Ides of March – had St. Pat’s Day and Edward is a Christmas Eve baby so we all had a holiday theme.) For the record, I remain an utter sucker for inexpensive boxes of Russell Stover chocolates covered in red cellophane and the large chocolate hearts filled with strawberry marshmallow! Yum! The delicacies of childhood. Of course we all loved those boxes of sugar hearts with writing on them – more for the novelty – I can barely remember the taste.

Meanwhile, as an adult I have expanded my birthday into a month long celebration – dinner or lunch with a series of Aquarian friends to keep things cheerful during one of winter’s dullest months. It isn’t news to anyone living in the northeast that February is perhaps the very snowiest month and I was born in a blizzard. I at least had the good grace to send my mother to the hospital at about 3:00 in the afternoon, rather than the middle of the night. Over the years I have made numerous birthday plans for travel or even far flung restaurant reservations that have been canceled or postponed due to many feet of snow piling up. These days I assume snow is likely and plan accordingly.

As a postscript I offer Cookie and her fascination with these ornaments this morning as a slide show! Fish glue? Did the seller have a cat? She won’t leave them alone! I don’t know where, but these will have to go on a high shelf if I am not willing to turn them into cat toys.

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Periquito, the Spanish Felix of Chocolate Cards

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Pam’s Pictorama Post: I considered these quite a find. There were at least another three, but they went high and this was as many as (perhaps more than!) I could afford. It is evident that these were chocolate cards – sort of the Spanish version of Felix meet Bazooka Joe of the 1920’s, and needless to say (all due respect Joe) a heck of a lot better. This Felix doppelganger is pretty charming in his own right, even if he is an knock off. I can only find a passing reference to this series of cards. (Admittedly, I might do better if I read Spanish.) Each one is numbered and the back seems to say there are 25 cards in the series. The one reference I found said there was a total of 48 images. As you can see, I have numbers 9, 13 and 21. I am especially partial to #9 where Faux Felix makes a nice little hammock for himself after seeing the human enjoying one. However, all of them are very charming indeed.

Each card has an explanation of the comic on the back – for those who can’t get the joke on their own I guess. The cat’s name translates to something along the line of Parakeet or Budgie the Mischief Cat. I can’t quite figure out where the bird element comes in, but it may be the limitations of the Google translation. I invite Spanish readers to enlighten me on any of these points.

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Below is a useful thumbnail history from a Spanish site, Tebeosfera, and translated by our friend, Mr. Google:

Series of comic strips featuring the cat “Periquito”, which included translations (probably unlicensed), copies and imitations of the famous character of animation “Felix the Cat” (Felix the Cat) made by several Spanish authors of the Editorial Marco as Regúlez in his own head parakeet (1927) and other publications of the house asRin-tin-tin by authors such as Juan Martinez and Castillo Osete. Subsequently, these cartoons also appear in La Risa in 1950.

In the twenties several collections of character trading cards as dumb cartoons were cartoons, advertising various chocolatiers on the back, as they were also published as Adventures Budgie Cat by Tinez and New Adventures of Periquito Cat by Bofarull.

The name “Jack Budgie” was the most common translation in Spain the popular Felix the cat in the animated short films released in cinemas in the mid-twenties of the twentieth century, which also went on to become the usual nickname followers football club Espanyol (still in force), thanks to the jokes Castanys for satirical football weekly the Xut (1922) and others like the sports Whip (1930), where fans of that team is parodied, calling them ” four cats”. [This piece mystifies me a bit.]

Black Cat editorial also published a similar character named “Jack Periquín” in the Children ‘s Joy (1930).

The site above also has this page of comics which is a much clearer Felix rip off of sorts, sample below. After looking carefully however, it seems that just the logo is the rip-off Felix and the comic is a real one in translation.

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Not in my collection, found at Tebeosfara.com

I have also found this nifty book on Google images which would have held your collection of Periquito cards below.The cards can be found for sale on some Spanish auction sites. I love the fact that he is a bit tubby and he has that extra long tail. He’s like the good living, European cousin of our man.

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Periquito Card Book, not in my collection

I am not sure I understand entirely, but I think the term Gato Periquito is still in use to describe mischievous kitties and therefore if you search on this you will also get a lot of Spanish cat videos and photos of cats getting into all sorts of trouble. As for me, having discovered this kissin’ cousin of my man Felix, you know I will be looking for Gato Periquito toys and other items.

Tommy Dodd

Pam’s Pictorama: The trade card bonanza continues with this card, which does not appear to actually advertise anything. The back is blank and looks like it spent some time glued onto an album page. This fellow, sporting his medal and with his somewhat human expression, would be a tad creepy if he showed up looking just like this at your house one day – and I like cats as you know. His origins are a bit obscure, although I guess a picture does form, so read on.

First, there is a tweet from the San Francisco public library of this card with the following post about the image on this card:  Tommy Dodd sends his #caturday greetings! This adorable cat won first prize at the International Cat Show, and then was featured on a trade card for a shoe store specializing in children’s shoes, on Stockton Street. In the San Francisco History Center’s trade card collection. Mine shows no evidence of San Francisco or children’s shoes, however these cards were clearly purchased by companies which printed their own message on the back or bottom. Still, um, somehow I doubt this was a real cat who one a prize at an international cat show – just a guess.

Researching the slang phrase Tommy Dodd turned up many meanings, some related and some clearly not. I list them here for your consideration in no particular order: odd or peculiar; a cemetery may be known as Tommy Dodd’s garden; thank Tommy Dodd for this or that; a phrase related to coin tossing (mid 19th century) as in tossing odds; penis; sodomite; a style of hat; a glass of beer or a walking stick. (The last three were from Australia.)

The coin tossing allusion is the one most frequently sited and referred to. It appears that there were numerous beer hall songs devoted to Tommy Dodd and below is the chorus to one I was able to find, as well as a link to the lyrics of the full song:

I’m always safe when I begin. Tommy Dodd, Tommy Dodd I Glasses round, cigars as well. Tommy Dodd. Tommy Dodd I Now, my boys, let’s all go in, Tommy Dodd, Tommy Doddl Head or tail, I’m safe to win, Hurrah for Tommy Dodd! (Lyrics for Tommy Dodd)

As is the case with many of these cards, there was a series that would have been collected – a nascent form of comics? I also turned up another in the series, as well as some companion dog cards shown below:

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Other cards from the same series.

 

Nathan Albert Headwear

Pam’s Pictorama Pin Post: I usually limit my forays into pin purchase to Felix and Krazy Kat – I have collected several of the little enamel pins of each. However this little number called my name on eBay the other day and I purchased it for a couple of dollars. I learned from the posting that most of these pins have Nathan Albert Headwear stamped on the back, although oddly this one does not. I thought that nothing would be easier than finding this haberdasher online – or at least some reference. Oddly, although the pins (which are great) exist in abundance in a variety of colors online, I can find pretty much zero about the company. Please enlighten me, any of you readers if you have info!

I wonder if there are many cases of this – a great logo living on well beyond the product it advertises, the product fading into the mists of time. I cannot think of another example, although I occasionally wonder if the Geico Geko will not somehow outlive the memory that he was tied to insurance. Meanwhile, who wouldn’t this splendid cat and fiddle appeal to? On the other hand, what did it have to do with hats? I had trouble getting a good photo of it and have ended up snatching the one off the listing.

It inspired me to dig around a bit and I grabbed up several notable buttons in our household collection, featured below. There is a Countess Aesop Fable pin that would have been sported by the doll, (I believe I purchased the pin alone before buying the doll) of course Bonzo’s Chad Valley pin which is affixed to my Bonzo, and I have (for good measure) included two versions of Kim’s Sunshine Girl pin – one original one from the Kim Deitch archive, and a splendid one that Bill Kartalopoulos had made for an exhibit a few years ago. Last but not least, I have thrown Kim’s Buck Jones Ranger pin in for good measure – certainly a collectible in its own right.