Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: For any Pictorama devotees who are less than enchanted with my collection of photos of people posing with outsized Felix the Cat dolls, the next several weeks may present something of a challenge. So sorry! While today’s post focuses on one that I have pulled off our wall and have owned for years, I have acquired two more that are winging their way toward me even as I type. Yes, pleasantly enough, I have a small wall devoted to these and frankly I have about as many I could hang and have not yet. I could cheerfully fill a room with them.
Frankly my appetite for these photo postcards remains utterly undiminished. Even I am a bit amazed that I remain as enchanted with acquiring each new one as I was by discovering my first. My reaction is the same every time – I love it and I’m amazed and gratified that it even still exists. That’s not to say some of these aren’t better than others – I especially love the one I am sharing today – but in the end each has its own charm for me. Each person, couple or group, frozen in time, the remembrance of lovely day gone by. Everyone with a different version of an over-sized Felix.
For one thing this is a well composed photo and not every wandering picture taker who bought a huge Felix (and still I ponder – where are those dolls?) knew how to put a photo together. This photographer certainly did, although some of it was luck. I love the composition in front of these columns – the striped dress on the one woman is somehow happily repeating that pattern. The bricks provide another pattern, as do the fabrics of their clothes and hats. I like the little slice of action behind the other woman and the long look behind them of other columns giving it great depth. It is my single regret that somehow it is the tiniest bit over-exposed and the one column disappears a bit at the top. We could use the tiniest bit of line there and over the white hat.
These women are dressed in lovely spring-summer costumes for their day out. White shoes and stockings! Pretty dresses and hats! It makes me want to go out and buy a spring dress. (Honesty compels me to confess it is not a hard inclination to create – this time of the year I positively yearn for spring dresses.) They are holding this enormous, slightly tipsy, lop-sided Felix up by the arms. He looks like he’s has a decided list to one side and his arms are very long indeed. Still, he has a great Felix face and large nicely pointy ears. Unlike some of these fellows, he’s in good shape and doesn’t look as if he has been dragged over hill and dale as much as some I have seen recorded. There is a mysterious form – shadow? – in the lower right corner and if you look carefully, bits of developer down at the bottom which has left some white spots. Although this is a very nice photo, those are a reminder that these were done in haste, somewhat sloppily, unlike a studio photo.
Anyway, I offer it to you today, on what is one of Manhattan’s first truly spring-like days. Cats dozing by an open window, winter on the run at long last. A visual reminder of another perfect spring day, somewhere in Great Britain past.
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.
Posing with Felix at Blackpool, Pams-Pictorama.com
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Devoting ourselves further today to the ever-important work of discovering and discussing Felix the cat photos! This is the second in a three part series of photo postcards taken with a wooden, handmade Felix. When you think about it, despite having to find someone to draw and paint Felix freehand, it was a much smaller investment and less of a commitment than the life-size doll, took up less space in the studio too. Still, a general sense of jolliness prevails.
Here we have a card which is a recent acquisition of mine taken of these two roguish fellows having a holiday in Blackpool, England. (It was never sent and nothing written on the back, therefore I am taking the seller’s word for the fact it was taken in Blackpool.) There are fewer of these photo postcards where Felix is merely a board cut-out to be posed with – or were fewer saved for me to find? While they may not offer the glory of the larger than life-size stuffed Felix at the seaside, someone was still having a mighty fine time posing with him while on holiday. I scooped this one up on eBay, what appeared to be minutes after it having been posted in England as a buy it now. Didn’t even have to wait for an auction. It was waiting for me.
Without any real firsthand knowledge, it appears that Blackpool is a holiday spot which may be a working class, distinctly family oriented holiday locale. A quick look online shows Blackpool on the seashore and sites that rent houses and RV’s and continues as a resort today. Despite their suits, these fellows look less prosperous and less devil may care than last week’s subject in Felix Photo, the Cut-outs, Part 1, and the painted background is also less evocative and interesting. This Felix offers his arm, just like that one, however these guys aren’t having any of that. Unlike that Felix in his happy dancing pose, this one is a bit lascivious. (What’s with the tongue Felix? Can we really imagine small children posing with him?) In fact, these gentleman stand behind Felix as if they are friends of his, taking him home after a long night at the pub, before he can really get himself in trouble. However, here these gentlemen are, in suit and tie – handkerchief and hat for one – posing for the camera; their holiday visit recorded for us to consider, barreling on toward a century later.
In closing, just for the heck of it, I am including a link to a 1920 Felix cartoon, The Circus to help put you in the high mystic mood. It has lots of mice and one of them even does the Felix dance!
Photo postcard from the Pictorama Collection
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I am writing this in anticipation of receiving a similar card I just purchased, another of folks with a Felix cut-out prop. I consider these Felix cut-out cards a sub-genre of the photo postcards posing with the stuffed Felix which I collect- admittedly with some passion! I originally thought them lesser, but I have developed an affection for these, each Felix painted freehand and obviously off-model by whoever they were able to hire for the job – some better, some less skillful – and I decided an examination of them might be fun. I have owned this one for a long time – it sits cheerfully on the wall near the kitchen with many of the other Felix postcards. The stage set in this one has a nice background too. I wonder if it was only used for Felix or if it had multiple uses – Mickey perhaps?
This Felix is in the happy dancing pose (in the very early cartoons he would dance around in a circle when especially pleased with himself) an attempt which was nicely ambitious on the part of the creator. The face could be a bit more Felix-y, and this version looks like he could lose a few pounds in the tummy too. I never thought of Felix a tubby guy. Still, the spirit of the cat is there!
The posing fellow in question is looking fashionably casual in his white ducks and blazer – I think I detect argyle socks – open collar shirt. I suspect that linking his arm through Felix’s wasn’t his own idea, but that of the photographer. The background makes us think he and Felix are on embarking on a sea voyage – I get the feeling that this was likely taken at a seaside resort in Britain or Australia, but is unidentified. We don’t know if it was the fellow in the photo, but someone thought enough of this photo to keep it for almost 100 years.
The link here, Felix Saves the Day, is for an early Felix cartoon, one mixed with a lot of live action. At the very end you can catch his happy dance which inspired this pose.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Some of you ongoing readers know that Pam’s Pictorama was originally conceived as a way of organizing my collection of photo postcard of people posing with giant Felix dolls. While I almost immediately switched course to incorporate all of my various collecting interests – toys, other photos and cat items – my collecting of these rarified beauties continues apace. That said, I generally only get one or two opportunities to purchase such cards each year. This one, as is the case with most, was never sent, and there is nothing written on it.
As summer hits its humid stride this year it seems like a fine moment to look back on a beach day long past. In the background we are treated to wonderful low wooden beach chairs and those fascinating little tents that people used to dress in. I have always been a fan of those – you see them in films occasionally and I have always wanted one or at least to be offered the use of one. You can just about make out what is probably mom and and older brother on the right hand side, blurry and behind them.
This Felix is a very fine looking fellow. I love that he sports a big bow and a careful look reveals whiskers on his face. Felix looks relatively new – in some of my other photos it is clear that the Felix doll in question has been dragged to the beach daily for numerous seasons and as a result he doesn’t stand quite right any longer, or he looks a bit ratty. Not this fellow. He and this youngster, who is wearing the least attractive sort of early children’s bathing attire-diaper thingy, are both pretty new on the summer scene; likely one of many to come for both of them. Perhaps his brother was up next for a photo and his still lurks somewhere out there, waiting for me to find it.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Buried deep in the pages of this blog, this photo decorates my brief auto-bio and it has long been one of the favorites in my collection for years. I thought I would pull it out over this July 4th weekend. (If I can’t be on a boardwalk we can at least look at one!) These two fellows are in spiffy, if slightly bizarre, attire – speaking at least for the guy with the striped tie and ill-fitting tweed jacket. The gent with the pipe seems to be giving the photographer a dubious look, What the hell are you doing? While his friend is giving us a bit of a smile.
This card came from England and I have always imagined this is Brighton or the Isle of Wright. Like almost all of these cards, it was never mailed. When I first saw it I thought that maybe the guys were sort of scamming by getting the photo with Felix, but not paying for it. However, clearly they appear to be taken by surprise. My guess is that, perhaps on slow days, the photographer would take candid photos and offer them to the people for purchase later – someone did this to me years ago when I got off a plane in Peru. (Sadly it was a positively wretched photo – probably due to the 10 or so hours of flying I had just completed – and I really did not want it. The process and method of finding me later fascinated me however and I admired their industriousness.)
My favorite part of this photo though is, not surprisingly, Felix. He has a sort of brother can you spare a dime? look about him, and he is sort of looking over his shoulder. (As some of you know, it is my life’s ambition to own one of these giant Felix-es, several would of course be even better…) PHOTOGRAPHS is written across the doorway to the building and must lead to the studio. I would love to see inside. And oh, on a beautiful summer day, to stroll the and pause to have your photo taken with a giant Felix the Cat doll!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get more of my Felix photos onto this blog. While organizing and recording them was one of the prime motives behind starting it, I realized recently that I have barely scratched the surface of my collection in this area. I have allowed myself to travel down many tributaries, but 2016 will be the year of Felix photos!
There is something a bit homemade about the Felix doll this very lively group is posing with here. One of my never-ending fascinations with Felix toys and photos is the huge variation of the off-model Felix-es one sees. Mickey Mouse can have a similar quality but Disney sat on pikers pretty quick and hard so there is less to choose from. But Felix, hand-made in factories in England, tends to have a wide variety of expression – most often goofy, sometimes downright insane.
Each and every person in this group, shown in their period swimming togs, seems to be enjoying this photo and their day at the beach. Even the fully suited gent in the back is smiling on them. The sun is glinting in and it looks like a raucously good time at the beach today.