Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: This is the first Mickey I ever purchased. I bought him at a antique toy fair in Atlantic City years ago. He was quite ratty even then and I didn’t pay much for him. At the time buying mice seemed odd to the cat purchaser in me, but he wasn’t expensive and he seemed to need a home, so he was the first mice among my cats. I continue to have a soft spot for him and the cats don’t seem to mind him.
I didn’t realize it at first, but he seems to be made from a pattern. As my regular readers know, I have recently opined on my lack of sewing acumen. Long story short, I’m lucky I can sew a button on, therefore I am rather awestruck by someone assembling toys from patterns, a skill I would love to acquire.
I gather the practice was very common and there were a number of ways you could get the patterns, through magazines or purchased from a sewing store. (You can see my lament of the long-lost fabric and notions store – Needled – a recent post.) I was deeply tempted by someone selling a pattern for a large Felix toy on eBay several years ago. The photo below is from her ad. I believe, strangely, that it is for knitting Felix – how is that possible? (While I can imagine a universe where I sew – in fact I even had fantasies about being good at sewing when I was younger – I cannot imagine a world where I knit. Those big plastic sticks produce nothing in my hands, let alone a giant Felix.)
Felix from a pattern available online
The seamstress behind my Mickey did a pretty superb job. The seams are very professional and the hand stitching attaching his hands and feet is neat and even. He appears to have had his eye moved on one side at some point, leaving a sort of beauty mark, but I think she or he had it properly stitched in originally. He was constructed of a soft black velvet which has worn away, but his arms, head, ears and tail are properly and perfectly put together.
It is tempting to think about – assembling my own toys with vintage patterns. However, I think I am smart enough to know it would all turn to chaos and dross in my hands so I think I will stick with buying.
Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: As many of you who follow our day-to-day on Facebook may already know, we are in the process of packing up our (tiny) apartment so that our ceiling can be ripped out and a new HVAC system installed for our building. In this case, the 15th and 16th floor, the top two, are taking a hit for the rest of the building for a more or less ten weeks. As I write this we are approximately halfway through the packing process. Kim packed books first, those boxes will go on the bottom while boxes of my toys will be piled on top. As a result these posts may cover some as yet not profiled toys as they get packed – and then eventually unpacked. We will be living amongst the boxes in the meanwhile.
This fellow, however, is too large to be packed in a box and will just be carefully wrapped up. He came to me via Hake’s auction as a splendid Christmas gift from Kim in 2011. I did the bidding and he came a bit less expensive than anticipated – perhaps because not everyone is willing to share their home with a Dean’s Rag Mickey Mouse the size of a toddler? In a way I have already examined here (see my recent post A Surprisingly Tiny Felix) I had a bit of dysmorphia when envisioning the size of things I bid on. I knew he was big – but I didn’t realize HOW big until a box the size of a refrigerator turned up in the apartment a few weeks before Christmas! While a tiny bit freaked out, I was far from disappointed when I opened him on Christmas morning. It was a jolly Christmas indeed.
Unfortunately, I do not know much about him and his history other than that he was some sort of store display. He is not all soft like a toy would be – his head is made of a harder substance. His snout may be paper mache or something similar to that and his feet are weighted to keep him standing.
I treasure my other Dean’s Rag Mickeys which were highlighted in my early post Starting Small with Mice, but my initial commitment to a small collection of mice (to satisfy the cat toys and give them something to do) would not seem to encompass this enormous, charming rodent. Nevertheless, shown below, he guards the foot of our bed and has since his arrival. He will be napping under some covers in the living room shortly however, and the bedroom just will not be the same without him for the duration.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have said it before and I will say it again – I am a very lucky girl! This great photo booth picture was a gift from my bro’ in-law, Seth Deitch. He posted it on Facebook a while back and seeing my enthusiasm, framed it up in this fantastic setting and sent it off to me where it sat under my proverbial (only) Christmas tree, waiting for me. Yay! I was hopping up and down when I opened it up.
In an odd way this photo immediately reminded me of one already in my collection, below.
Kim has done wonders lightening this tintype a bit. It is in rough shape and dark in the way that poorly developed tintypes are – the fixative never full set or rinsed. Nevertheless, it was so strange and interesting I purchased it. It is like a photo of a kid from another, somewhat but not quite similar planet rather than just the past. I believe it is European. The little boy is dressed like the archetype of a wealthy child from a certain period – short pants, but expensive coat and clothes in general, the beret at a jaunty angle, carefully placed. In addition to the faux Mickey I love the bear wearing the nice straw boater.
By contrast the kids on the top photo are wonderfully brash and look like they probably wandered into this photo booth at Coney Island or some place like it. The big brother, who would give his sister a hard time often, but on this occasion was the one to whip out the needed quarters to have this snap taken, his arm casually thrown over her shoulder. How lucky that she has her Mickey with her. They aren’t clearly wealthy like this earlier kid, but man, they’ve got the world on a string, they do.
Thank you again Seth!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Recently I was bidding on a rather fascinating Mickey Mouse mask from the thirties – an awkward thing, Kim seemed unmoved by it, but I found it very interesting. It doesn’t matter because it zoomed out of a price range that I could possibly justify paying – after all, it wasn’t even a cat. Still, almost by way of consolation, this photo appeared for sale on eBay – the man wearing the very type of mask I was bidding on.
While this can’t really compete with my past Mickey photo post Mickey Marches In it is still a pretty hot photo of the Mickey and Minnie dress up craze of the thirties. Halloween dressing up by adults seems, in general, to have been taken to a much higher level in the first part of the 20th century. That’s a pretty hot hula girl outfit behind the guy with the funny nose and the “S” or “5” on his pouch. And is that Little Miss Muffet and her Tuffet behind Minnie? I thought it was a turtle at first, but she seems very pleased with it either way. There’s a clown – there always is in these photos – and someone in a sort of raja outfit. Still, Mickey and Minnie are front and center and it has probably helped keep this photo bobbing around all these years instead of lost in an album somewhere.
If you look carefully, you will see that Mickey and Minnie seems to have a little wooden man on a wire like a leash. What on earth is that? And why are Mickey and Minnie taking him out and about? Their pet human perhaps – fitting for anthropromorphic mice I guess, not that I keep a mouse on a leash. This complements the dark side of this photo – after all, those masks are a bit terrifying.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Taking a break from my beloved Felix-es and other kitties, we choose today to embrace mice – or at least a mouse. Eva-Marie had this charming photo taken in Berlin with this splendid Mickey. Nothing but her name on the back, no date. The back of the card has a studio mark that says only A. Wertheim Berlin Leipzger Strasser, which appears to have been an early mall/department store. I like the jaunty bows in her hair and the way she’s holding Mickey’s hands – he reaches almost up to her waist! Eva-Marie is clearly enjoying herself. Who wouldn’t?
I believe the wonderful outsized Mickey to be made by Britain’s Dean’s Rag Book Company – a toy company I have written about several times in the past. (Among those posts you can check out Pluto and Flip and Froggy.) I shared some of my small scale “Mickey Jazzers” below. These were featured in Starting Small With Mice, an early post and are tiny kissin’ cousins of the big fella here.
I am the proud owner of a store display Dean’s Mickey, which is about as tall as Eva-Marie here, but more about that in a future post. One great Mickey at a time!
A special shout out to my friend Zach Sigall who was the one who found this photo and gave me the nod on it. Thanks Zach!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Sometimes as a collector there is something that eludes you over a period of time. And sometimes as a spouse there is something from your partner’s former life that scratches at the back of your brain. This wonderful photograph managed to embody both for me. While I have used this photo in a previous blog post (Van Buerens Aesop Fables, the Toys) it was pulled off the internet, not my very own copy. It is the only publicity photo of these fairly rarified toys that I am aware of. (As you may know, I do have that rather sharp photo of Jane Withers holding one.) This one, for the record, is ever so slightly cropped, the serial number gone, probably the most notable difference. One of the important features of this photo is that each toy wears their name on a tag around their neck so those names are not lost to the sands of time: Milton (mouse), Don (dog), Mike (monkey), Raffles (or is it Waffles?) and The Countess. All except the wolf toy. What on earth could his name have been? I must research that.
Meanwhile, years ago, as the story goes Kim was visiting a film collector (along with Leonard Maltin no less – this was of course in the days when film collector meant piles of film cans for those of you born in the post-DVD, streaming online era) and the fellow gave each of them a copy of this photo! Amazing! He evidently had a pile of them. So far so good, except my husband (who is a lovely and very unselfish fellow) gave it to his then girlfriend Sally. Now this was bound to stick in my craw both on the spouse side as well as irritate the heck out of me on the wife side even all these years later – it happened in 1980. Obviously I understand – I wasn’t even a twinkle in his eye for another fourteen years, and I was in fact, still quite underage and yet to embark on my years of toy collecting. Still, in my jealous wife and toy collectors brain this has remained a wrong that needed to be set right.
Enter eBay last week – on a day when I had decided I really needed to rein in spending and behave for a while, but was having a little look nonetheless. There it was, mis-listed under Mickey Mouse photos and set as a buy-it-now for $25. Just in time for our wedding anniversary and our 20 year anniversary of our very first date. Bam! Mine! Oh bliss! The universe set right at long last.
Pam Pictorama Photo Post: Much like the recent My Little Pony post, this is another glance of real life into an idyllic looking childhood. This photo postcard, discovered in a search of Mickey Mouse photos (Mickey in chair, left) is beyond charming – I want to be this little girl with the dolls and the adorable pet rabbit! (I think the rabbit is real not stuffed, don’t you?) Check out that nifty rocking toy behind Mr. Bunny, shaped like a chick, reminiscent of Boston’s swan boats – and the nice chair Mr. Buns is sitting on. This kid had great stuff! She sets an elegant table – and she’s wagging her finger at the doll in the high chair – you rogue. Dolly, you!