Oswald

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: A new friendship with a reader who is a fellow collector has lead to a cheerful volley of toy conversation via email recently which I have quite enjoyed. His collection runs broad and deep and some of the items he has shared photos of fascinate and entice! He recently shared photos of a few groups of rarified early character toys which were amazing. Among them a few examples of our friend Oswald rabbit which are from a different period from mine which turned my attention to cartoon rabbits today.

As you can see, my fellow is in very rough shape indeed. Many years ago I bought him on eBay where he was poorly posted and I acquired him for very little. I don’t generally purchase a lot of toys in a bad state as I don’t think I am the person to best figure out getting them repaired, but occasionally one comes over the transom and I cannot resist. (In the early years of Pictorama I wrote about visiting an elderly man who repaired toys on Lexington Avenue near Bloomingdales. That odd tale can be read here.)

He is my only example of this erstwhile character created by Walt Disney. As the story goes, Disney lost the rights to this his first popular character in a deal with Universal gone wrong. Disney limped off and made history creating Mickey Mouse and Oswald faded into obscurity

About 28 Oswald cartoons were made and over time disappeared from the public and most living memory. Several years ago a disk was issued with a number of the cartoons which are great. An example can be seen below.

An Oswald Rabbit cartoon via Youtube available at the time of publication.

My Oswald has his name and Universal Pictures emblazoned on his chest. I found a listing online that says he was made in 1930. He has a key in his back and would have wound up to walk side to side. The key in mine is long frozen in place and the mechanism seized up, but I’m sure he was quite jolly indeed. (Below is a fellow whose photo I found online who is clearly survived the years in better shape.) I love his little shoes complete with laces! If you look carefully you can see this is a slightly different version of Oswald with a larger nose and clothes made of flannel instead of cotton. (There is some writing on either side of his grin that doesn’t exist on mine as well.)

I think the overall shredding and wear on mine is beyond repair although my collector conversations have made me consider repairs on some of my toys, most notable a Kiko the Kangaroo who came to me in poor shape and has continued to lose ground over time. Kiko, a Terrytoons character, never enjoyed the widespread popularity of Oswald. He made his debut in 1936 with good ole Farmer Alfalfa and last only a year. With the help of my new toy correspondent I am in touch with someone in Canada who may be able to make some repairs and stabilize him. I would like to get him in better shape. I promise you a future post on him, the before and after, once complete.

A Kiko cartoon via Youtube at the time of publication.

Meanwhile, I promised a photo of Oswald to my new friend and so in taking him out for a turn today I thought I would share him to my Pictorama readers too, beat up although he is. My Oswald sits on a somewhat remote shelf where he is left largely in peace, spending his days with a Dean’s Rag Pluto and Flip the Frog. This volley of emails has me thinking rabbits however and I have long wanted an example of the Dean’s Rag version so stay tuned and see what time might turn up!