L’il Felix

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: Another toy today – and celebrating the acquisition of a new and unusual Felix no less. This fellow hails, at least most recently, from the United States. I have never seen this variation previously.  I spotted him on eBay and, although the bidding was robust, I would have been willing to pay more than I did for him. It is unusual for me to find a design I have never seen, given how much time I devote to looking at them I have seen most I think.

Some of the aspects of this Felix that are not immediately evident are a solidly sewn thread at the back of his head, and printing on his little red ribbon. My theory is that this Felix was a carnival prize which hung from that thread, now torn. (See back view below.) I wish I could read his ribbon, but maddeningly I think one half of it has smudged over time. I think it actually reads Made in… He is about seven inches high. If this gentlemen was a carnival prize, unlike his British counterparts which exist in large numbers speaking to broad popularity, he was not one that was widely distributed. His arms move, his legs and tail were meant to stand him up tripod fashion, although he seems to need some help. It is a very simple design, although the moving arms, glass eyes and felt ears speak to some care and expense.

Felix back

However, this benign faced fellow does not seem to belong to the same clan as those somewhat malevolent toothy grinned Brits. The argument could easily be made that he actually isn’t Felix, but a generic toy cat, but in all the looking at Felix I have done I believed immediately that he was someone’s off-model rendition, cheaply churned out for a cheerful Felix obsessed public. This mild mannered fellow has already found his spot on a bookshelf in our living room – a space that is starting to absorb the toy overflow from our cramped bedroom. Needless to say, I would have been very happy indeed to have won him at a fair. I can see a thrilled, small me, gripping him in one hand, perhaps some cotton candy or a candied apple (love those!) in the other. However, given my skills at those kinds of games, maybe I would have spent as much as I did buying him anyway.

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More Felix Sing-a-long!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Happily somehow things always return to Felix here at Pictorama. I like to think that indefinitely, every so often, I will stumble across yet another unexpected example of the British fascination with Felix which extended to ditties like this one – Felix gracing the cover and doing the big sell. (However, as noted in my post Musical Meow! which features French sheet music, currently adorning the walls of my office, illustrates that the Brits were not alone in this mania abroad.) I have a few other sheet music posts that include Felix illustrated tunes, Felix – Here He Is Again , Musical Meow! and Musical Interlude and they are, if you pardon the pun, like cat nip to me. On this one he is doing my favorite Felix trick where his tail flies off on its own, in this case to form a ? – a hotsy-totsy Felix best!

In researching the note at the bottom, Dedicated to FELIX THE FILM CAT/Appearing exclusively in Pathe’s ‘Eve & Everybody’s Film Review’ I hit pay dirt on Felix lore. In the interesting short article that can be found in its entirety at British Universities Film and Video Council site about Eve & Everybody’s Review I found out Felix details that tied together things in a way I didn’t know. Pic and Eve (as it became known) was a series founded in 1921 and running until ’33 aimed at women – hobbies, unusual careers, fashion, etc. under the slogan fashion, fun and fancy. It mostly drew on stock footage for its shorts, but also featured shorts of cartoons. This is the series that was used to launch the Felix cartoons in Great Britain to great acclaim, and became the machine that helped churn out much of the British Felix merchandise treasured by the likes of me close to a hundred years later- sheet music, pins, and china figurines. (Krazy Kat had his turn as well, but does not appear to capture the imagination of the Brits the way Felix did.) It was the distributor of Felix cartoons until 1926 when the Ideal company began to distribute them in their entirety as free-standing entities.

This sheet music appeared on my computer screen during an early morning, pre-work, search on eBay. It was for immediate purchase and it was mine before my morning coffee had even had a chance to kick in. Mornings here at the combined Pictorama and Deitch Studio environs goes something like this – at about 4:30 Blackie begins to stir (some of us believe that it is at Cookie’s insistence, but since I try to sleep through this I cannot verify it) and we attempt to hold him at bay until at least 5:00. Kim gets up; I roll over for anywhere from another 15 to 45 minutes of sleep. Tummies full, the cats are already working on their daytime napping by the time I pour myself some cold coffee from the fridge and sit down with it, a green smoothie (made the day before) and some fresh berries in front of the computer. Kim is already hard at work as I read the paper online (interesting bits aloud), check the limited social media that interests me (laugh at funny animal videos and photos mostly) and give a fast check to the most interesting searches I follow on eBay. On a lucky day last week this was the first thing I saw and bang! It was mine.

Enough about me however. This is a splendid piece of sheet music I have never seen previously. There is no date associated with it. It was previously owned by the H. Austin Storry, Ltd. Pinaoforte & … Warehouse, 14 & 16 Palmerston, Southsea…as per the stamp at the bottom right and from what I can make out of it. Hard to beat the name of this tune, Who threw the water on the Tom Cat’s back?  The author is A. Emmett Adams, is best known for The Bells of St. Mary’s, a hit of 1917. Without knowing for sure, we’ll assume that this Felix ditty is a jauntier song. I could not find a transcription of this being played, but surely anything that advertises itself as Me-ow! Splash! A Melody with a ‘Smack’ must be sort of jolly. The lyrics, in part, go like this:

Felix loved a Tabby Cat
How she used to purr!
All the cats for miles around were sure he’d marry her!
One night he proposed and just as Tabby answered Yes!
Someone dampened their spirits in a rude way more or less;

Chorus:
Who threw the water on the Tom Cat’s back when he spoke to his lady friend?
Who broke the water jug at two o’clock,
Followed at three by the kitchen clock?
Bang! went a pair of boots, crash went a  piece of soap
Right on his best girl’s head.
So she bolted down the mews,
Leaving Felix musing there are other cats instead.
The final verse:
As I try to sleep at night,
When the world is still
Cats sing oratorious beneath my window sill!
Do I get up? I should worry

I just lie in bed!
Somone’s gone mad round the corner 
So I think instead…
Chorus

All this and they threw in two fox trots at the back, When you and I were dancing and Love in the Summertime. Quite a bargain I say and while I paid quite a bit more than 2 pence, I am very happy with my buy as well.

 

Ornamentation

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This is an incredibly tiny photo – only about 2″x2″ cut from something larger. It was at one time pasted into an album, perhaps a page of many, small cut out images in a 1920’s collage. This Felix is a familiar Schoenhut model toy which was hugely popular. Someone has plunked our friendly Felix toy down on the front end of this gorgeous looking early Chevrolet. Ironically Felix has a notable history with Chevy, thanks to a long lived dealership in Los Angeles. I touched on this in a post called Felix Sells, after being inspired by a single early dealership envelope which I saw on eBay, but failed to purchase. As I am not especially knowledgable about cars, I cannot hazard a guess about the model of this one and therefore the possible year completely eludes me. Still, we can assume that it was while Felix was first hitting the big time and star that he was, he was simply everywhere.

Originally motometers perched atop of early car hoods and served a purpose, gaging car temperature. They became more decorative over time (believe me, I only know this because I watch American Pickers, and some of the ones they find are gorgeous), but then eventually temperature gauges moved into the car, where we will assume they were more useful. The spot on the hood was inherited by, also increasingly decorative, hood ornaments – and Felix was a favorite. Below I show the most common version, the LeJeune Felix hood ornament. (Louis LeJeune hood ornaments is a British company which still exists and was founded in 1910, so they were still the new kids on the block when they hit it big with this Felix,  probably in the late ’20’s.)

These abound for sale on eBay and I have never purchased one, in part, because it would need to be mounted. (Remember, our cramped studio apartment does not allow for a lot of construction projects or tools.) If I see a nice mounted one I would love it. Felix is at his early squared off best, portrayed in his thinking/pacing mode. I do very much like the idea of him on the prow of my car! This one is resplendent – in fully painted glory. Generally you see an unpainted version (and modern castings) available.

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Painted version of the Le Jeune Felix hood ornament, not in the Pictorama collection, alas! From a Hake’s sale catalogue.

 

Another version of a Felix hood ornament, shown below, came up while researching this. Not sure of the maker or year. One can imagine this one in fully original shiny brass glory however – wowza! There were another few variations where a metal Felix had been married to another ornament in a homemade version. I was unable to capture those. Still here he is in his thinking walk; he seems far less concerned however. This Felix is strolling.

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All this to say, it would have been an easily understood joke of the day to take a Felix toy and stick it on the front of your Chevy and take the photo I have acquired.

Although somewhat less popular today, hood ornaments still exist. I have a friend who has a nice one of a beaver on the front of her car and he has graced the front of a series of her SUV’s as I understand. A similar but more widespread practice today seems to be tying old stuffed animals to the front of trucks, something I have wondered about. Perhaps it comes out of an entirely different motivation.

If I owned a car (which would require that I drive a car – really another story) I would consider affixing this Felix with his bent, thoughtful walk to the hood. After all, contemplation is good and speed isn’t everything.

 

Saucy Felix

Pam’s Pictorama: This pattern of Felix china has long attracted me and I have very much wanted to own at least a specimen example and now I do. It is Royal Rudolstadt made in 1925, or so it appears from what I read online, although this dish is unmarked. While the Felix-es around the edges look very regular and professional, there’s something sort of wonderfully wonky about the Felix face in the middle. I have always liked the way the figures around the edge look almost as if they would animate if you spin the plate. (They don’t.)

This set of dishes brings the tally of Felix china that I am aware of to three different designs. The others range broadly, from the one I wrote about in Living the Felix Life which is very professional looking and Felix is exactly the same on each to the one in the post here, Dishing Felix, which looks very much like it was copied freehand.

Today’s dish falls soundly between the others aesthetically and I assume it is a tea cup saucer. What a racy tea set this must have been! I have seen cups and creamers from it, but oddly never a tea or coffee pot. I believe pieces are also trimmed in yellow, green and blue and in fact this may be the first pink one I have seen. None of these dishes impresses me as having been made for children. I do believe I would be more inclined to have tea parties if I owned this full set!

I briefly considered buying these as high end cat dishes which, among other things, would make poor Kim a nervous wreck as he is often the one handling the dishes at feeding time. (I neither get up early enough, nor do I get home early enough for Mr. Blackie and Ms. Cookie it seems.) The kits have rather splendid cat dishes anyway and I have decided to show them here as well while we are on the subject. They don’t rise to the level of Felix Royal Rudolstadt by any means, but I think are definitely a step above plastic – and C&B are always happy to see them.

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.

Ho, ho, ho – a Felix Find

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: In my business (if you can call acquiring things and never selling any a business) it is rare to come across an early stuffed Felix that is really different than those I have seen, and in some ways this magnificent Christmas gift from Kim is one of those. Purchased from a British store I stumbled across online called All You Can Bear located some place in Great Britain, I was immediately very enamored of him. After paying a king’s ransom (thank you Santa Kim!) he arrived in a sizable box shortly after Thanksgiving. Christmas Day finally arrived for this Felix fanatic – and there he is in all his glory! This fellow is larger than I fully absorbed from the listing photos and the design of his tail as a sort of third leg makes him take up considerable space. (This will cause some major reshuffling among the stuffed shelves of our apartment!) He is shown here on Christmas morning, atop of a pile of very fine Deitch art work, complete with Christmas lights.

At first I thought he might be related to the Felix below, one that I have always considered the strangest design and of great curiosity, and that I wrote about in the aptly named post Odd Felix. The one below no longer stands, if indeed he was ever designed to, and the face is different, but there is something similar to our new inhabitant about the design of the body and the ears. It is hard to tell from my photo, but as I mention above, the new Felix uses his tail as a sort of third leg. However, looking at them side-by-side I am less inclined to think their origin is the same. The new Felix is an entirely new design for me.

Doggy Felix

Very Unusual Felix in Pictorama Collection, Pams-Pictorama.com

 

One of the reasons I love to collect these toys is that every single one of them ended up with a different expression and this makes them very human for me. After learning that many of those toys, made in London, were hand assembled by women (a blog post of mine I keep going back to myself, East London Toy Factory, Ltd.) it makes sense. It is what has always charmed me most about these guys and this one beguiled me immediately from his listing page. He looks as if he is about to begin a great oration – hand (paw?) held aloft. Or, from another angle, like he has a crazy secret or really off-color joke which is cracking him up and that he can barely keep to himself. Hmm – Felix, what could that be?

 

Flat Felix Photo Finale, Installment 3

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Pictorama Collection, Pams-Pictorama.com

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: As of the writing of this post, this third photo postcard of someone posing with a full size two dimensional Felix is the last in my collection. The Felix in this one bears a remarkable resemblance to the second one I wrote about – a variation on the tongue out, lascivious looking Felix. (If you missed the December 10 post it is here Blackpool, Felix Cutout Continued). As I predicted in that post, it makes for a very strange photo with a child. This little girl seems either dumbfounded or, more likely, terrified of him. She is holding the end of his tail in a rather unconvinced fashion – you can just imagine someone telling her to hold onto him, and his tail being the closest and safest seeming piece to hold onto. Scrawled on the back in fairly childish handwriting is the name, Margaret Bettell-Wilkinson.

If you look carefully, an entire amusement park has been painted into the background. There is something which resembles the base of the Eiffel Tower, although maybe they were just aiming for some sort of ride. There is a Ferris wheel and these sort of exhibition hall style buildings – I wonder if this was a specific park they were painting? Perhaps the one the photo studio was in or near. There is that fence with its very forced perspective as well and whatever went on below and above it which is too dark to tell.

The little girl, Margaret we will assume, could be considered a bit woebegone under any circumstances although to some degree as you look at early photos of children, if they are not really dressed up they tend to look tatty by our standards today. I think people in general had fewer clothes and kids wore them hard. This little girl does have a nice beret on and a sporty coat. I think it is her skinny, bare legs and droopy socks, combined with her effort to put some space between her and Felix, that makes her look at bit sad. Fair to say, at least in this context, Margaret is just not a Felix fan!

While one might think that perhaps photos where people are not at their happiest or best do not end up being saved, this just isn’t true. We all know this. Oddly, we hang onto all the photos of our loved ones in the end. A photo of someone, a pet, or something else you care about is hard to throw out even if they look funny or it is a bit blurry. It is even hard to delete these on your phone – where you know all those photos are piling up and you get constant warnings about storage being full. This is a fortunate part of human nature for the photo collector like myself, but the bane of the organized and the squeezed for space. Still, once a photo was made into an object like this wonderful postcard, you could never throw it out – even when your now 35 year old daughter comes home and says you should get rid of that thing. I am so very relieved no one listened.