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.

 

A Cuppa Felix

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Pam’s Pictorama: I bought this silver plate and enamel Felix cup for next to nothing on eBay a couple of years ago. I had not seen this piece and evidently I was the only person who was biting that day. Admittedly Felix is a bit damaged by someone who tried to polish this with paste, some of the enamel in his legs is missing. This is about as good as it polishes up without using paste, some of the silver plate having worn through in places.

Wonder if it was meant as a baby cup – lucky kid! No markings and perhaps he is a kissing cousin to the enamel spoons, although the Felix looks a bit different. I use it as a catch all on my bedside table where it tends to attract earrings missing a mate and seldom worn rings.

Felix has a winning grin here. It barely reads as Felix, yet is also immediately recognizable. This is British – no surprise. The Brits seem to have incorporated Felix into all sorts of decorative and household items. I think his ubiquitous presence is hard for us to imagine now. While one thinks of Mickey Mouse having a greater impact I sometimes wonder when I see these items as I examined in my former post Living the Felix Life and Spooning with Felix which highlights a not entirely dissimilar enameled Felix spoon.

As for me, I will always be happy to decorate with a little bit more early Felix.

A Surprising Tiny Felix

tiny Felix

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: In my collecting experience this little gem is about as weird as it gets. A Facebook friend, Chuck Sycamore, emailed the photo below as a response to an unrelated post, announcing that a friend of his had “found these in his house” and was selling them. Well, wow. Who could resist that?

tiny felix line-up

So, the friend (who lives in Chicago) was contacted and after a bit of to and fro I purchased one – the fellow on the far left end. My size ration dysmorphia (see yesterday’s post Surprise – It’s Felix Again) kicked in and I was stunned to find this guy no more than four inches high! The scooter is fully functional and the Felix is completely articulated. I have never seen these any place else for sale. The small articulated Felix dolls seem to be a size smaller or a size bigger than any version I know. The scooter seems loosely based on this toy I own (mine is a no-name, not Felix variation – I like it, but for some reason the one that is marked Felix sells for about ten times more) – or perhaps that is entirely in my own mind.

tin Felix on scooter

Whether these were somehow one of a kind pieces made in a small quantity, or for some reason have just eluded me in my years of Felix collecting I do not know. There is no maker’s mark and the execution is very thoughtful. If anyone knows more than I do on the subject please weigh in. I am very curious to know more! And a big shout out to Chuck for giving us the heads up. And what kind of whacky house did the friend move into anyway? What else was in that house?

Dishing Felix

Dishing Felix

Pam’s Pictorama: As we, somewhat regretfully, leave Halloween posts, we are embracing a series of Felix and other recent purchase posts. I have been VERY busy on eBay and will be sharing the cat-filled results.

I have had one or two similar pieces similar to this dish slip through my fingers in recent years and this time I decided it was my turn and I pushed hard to win this interesting – and somewhat strange – dish. There’s been some discussion in the house about the purpose this was meant to serve – children’s dish? Pet food? Ashtray? It is very shallow for a children’s dish and a bit large (let’s say 6 inches across) for an ashtray. Very elegant for pet food – a bit unkind to use Felix as an ashtray.

If you look carefully, you can see where the image of Felix was traced around the face. This was hand painted. The uneven line around the edges is also due to human foible it would seem, and a bit of smudging in the glazing process – fingerprints on the bottom right. There is absolutely no marking on this. I almost wonder if it wasn’t made from some sort of do-it-yourself kit or class – although the top glaze and firing seem professional. It is curious though. It hailed from Great Britain, at least that is where I purchased it from. That is not surprising – England seems to have be the El Dorado of early Felix merchandise.

One of the reasons I like this is that it is an early looking, nicely blocky Felix – my favorite type from the very early cartoons. I like him pointy and toothy – just like this. I try to resist purchasing breakable items (see my post Fear of Celluloid) which are difficult to find a safe haven for in our small, Blackie and Cookie-crazed apartment, but one does have to make exceptions.

Dennison’s

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I guess given my predilection for black cats, it isn’t surprising that Halloween of days gone by greatly entertains me, and therefore so does dressing up, and for a time I was buying black cat novelty and Halloween books and items. In addition to this original one shown above, I purchased a number of lovely reproductions of the Dennison’s Bogie Books – color xerox copies of the catalogues Dennison’s holiday paper product company put out annually to encourage costume making and elaborate party decorations – made of their crepe paper, of course, and eventually morphing into wrapping paper and decorations.

Although they had booklets (and decorative paper) dedicated to various holidays, of course Halloween was the zenith of the dress up holidays. In addition to the decorations, they detail costumes that could be put together and even party games that could be played. It appears that they were the first on the market with holiday crepe paper – and certainly the first to have such comprehensive marketing.

Dennison’s was around for just over a century – 1897-1998 and was housed in Framingham, MA. They were a significant employer for the area and an important part of civic life there, right up until it was sold in the late 1990’s and moved to California. In addition to being a community leader, contributing to hospital drives and local causes, but also was known for not laying off any staff during the Depression. Some of this information, as well as information about how the Dennison’s archive was saved by a former employee, can be found here in Framingham Unearths Decades of Dennison Memories.

Below are some choice pages from my run of reproduction books, ’14-’17.

Bogie Book 1Bogie Book 2Bogie Book 3

I want that Cat Hat! Which reminds me of a pretty great photo of Kim below:

Kim in Cat Hat

The Devil is in the Details

Devil card

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Halloween happiness continues on Pictorama! This is a rare case of a card that I have absolutely no memory of having purchased. I have owned it for a fair amount of time, and suspect someone must have given it to me. Halloween cards are frequently too expensive to purchase without real commitment.

This card was sent from Madge Bush of Branchport, NY, tardy for Halloween, on November 5 at 5 PM, 1909. Written in a virtually unreadable child’s hand is the following: Hellogertrude wasyouinto mischief halloween Howdoyoulike yourteacher? It is address in the same hand: Gertrude Bush Westfield PA R.F.D. #2. An adult with beautiful penmanship has added with flourishes: Gertrude Lulu Bush and under the child’s writing her name, Madge Bush. In addition, and somewhat inexplicably, Bush, G.B.x M.B. L.B. and again, Madge Bush.

I think this card is hotsy-totsy! Although it is missing the ever-desirable black cats, it is a worthy, goofy image. For some reason the Devil has entered into a party favor tug-of-war with Mr. Pumpkin Head. (I confess, Pumpkin Headed figures have always vaguely terrified me.) The Devil has put down his pitchfork in order to really put his back into it. We will assume that maybe Mr. Pumpkin Head was carrying those two oozy looking small pumpkins – a strange potential form of Pumpkin cannibalism he was about to commit?

I have long waited to be invited to a party where favors like this party cracker were given out – what on earth great thing could have been inside? Perhaps I will never know, but these guys consider it worth fighting for. Another thing that appeals to me about this card is the way the candle gives everything a scale – the Devil and Pumpkin Head are party cracker/candle size!

Let’s all get out there and mail a few Halloween cards – and don’t forget the party crackers in my trick or treat bag please.