Isle of Man, 1924

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: When I started collecting photos of people posing with enormous Felix the Cat dolls, taken at resorts across Britain and Australia, it was the sheer boffo wackiness of their existence that enticed me. (If you are a new reader there are many of these posts as I have a fairly substantial collection and you can see a sample in these posts:  Vacation FelixAnother Aussie FelixFelix Photo, the Cut-outs, Part 1 for starters.) However stranger still in some ways, is the existence of photos like these, where people are posing with a lovely, large but not huge, Felix doll – about the size of one (or two or – okay, several) I own. The Isle of Man is, of course, a resort area and these appear to be vacationing folks. But even as a devotee of stuffed Felix toys (a connoisseur you might even say) exactly how and why a photographer was handing over a large Felix for folks to hold when they were having their photo taken does mystify even me a bit. I am sorry I wasn’t there to enjoy it, and it certainly speaks to Felix’s extraordinary world fame and how beloved he was at the time. Everyone wanted to memorialize that memory of hanging with Felix I guess.

In my post Felix Family Photo it is a similar case and I show the photo featured in it below as well. Another family that scooped up Felix and posed. Just seems to be something people did – not just kids posing with their toys! A family affair.

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Pams-Pictorama.com collection

 

Our photos, at top, today are quite small, snap shots that barely even seem to have been taken and printed by a professional photographer except for the commercial set in the one. Poorly printed and over-exposed (I somehow imagine that the fellow taking these was tippling a bit) we are once again depending on the magic of Photoshop to improve upon them. Less than perfect though they may be, they were treasured and kept by someone, or numerous someones, for many years before coming to rest here.

It is clearly the same couple and despite the man’s disappearing cap, one assumes the same day and session. I cannot read the jaunty sign behind them on the photo set. (Almost looks like Free Weight?) It took a fair amount of study to realize that, in both photos, Felix is holding a little Felix doll! (Kim managed a detail of it from one of the photos.) Wow! Amazing! On the back of each picture, written neatly in pencil is, taken at Douglas I. of Man and additionally on one 1924. Douglas is the capital of this resort locale. This makes a fine entry into a casual examination of summer vacation photos, as I head toward my own well-earned vacation at the end of August. I can only hope that somehow it too will be Felix filled.

23 Months

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: It occurs to me that my purchasing of early Mickey centric toys, which seemed an exception, has now formed a proper sub-genre in my collection – perhaps earning a whole section of their own in the imaginary book of my photo collection I edit in my mind. Recently I have added the tintype I wrote about in Riding the Big Bear and Say Cheese!, but this photo reminds me a lot more of my recent post found here – She Who Has the Most Toys Wins. That one featuring a Felix instead of a Mickey. Still, the same idea – let’s take a photo of the kid with all her toys in the yard. Heck, if I had a kid and a yard I would probably do it too.

I like my Mickeys early and this one is, and he’s also a fine, large and pristine looking example. This lucky child has not only him, but that lovely bunny, a doll she is clutching, a bike (or more likely trike) lurking to one side behind her, a large lamb-y looking toy in the front corner and even a bit of a toy carriage peering out behind that. The yard is also neat although not hugely prosperous looking, aside from the wealth of toys.

The photo here is about the same size as the original, smallish but not tiny. In addition to 23 mos written here on the front, on the back it says, 23 months She was afraid the wind would blow her hair ribbon off – I am a bit sad that for all of this we do not know her name. Clearly she was a precise child, one who cared so specifically about her hair ribbon not be blown off. I love that about her, she herself looking a bit perfectly doll-like here perched on this small table. (I myself was a messier child and my toys hard loved, I must admit.) Somehow it is easy for me to assume it was a trait of hers that didn’t change as she got older. And if she remained as tidy and careful about her toys, perhaps some of those pristine items are being treasured by the likes of me today.

Jimmie and His Cat Toy

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Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: These photos were an unusual purchase. Listed on eBay in two separate offerings of four photos each were these photos of this one little fellow with his cat toy. (The cat toy was advertised as Felix, but I beg to disagree. Nonetheless, we love all cat toy photos here at Pam’s Pictorama, generic or otherwise.) One set of photos, those which are less sepia-toned, are all marked At Aunt Ada’s in Lancaster, Jimmie 4 yrs. on the back. Two have a notation on the front, but those are hard to see in these scans. The others, clearly still of Jimmie and not too long before or after the Lancaster photos, are unmarked. By virtue of how I purchased them, we will assume they stayed together all this time, and it is worth noting that these photos were never glued into an album. If they were in one, which I somehow imagine they likely were, they were secured in another way.

The labeled set of photos seem pretty timeless, but the other set show these to be earlier than I might have guessed. The cloche hat probably puts it back as far as at least the 30’s, and looking at her coat, maybe the early part of that decade. Jimmie is a well dressed little guy and that is a pretty hot tricycle he has as well. I especially like the photo where he is letting kitty drive the trike.

It is, of course, Jimmie’s toy that interests me. At first I was quite convinced that it was one I bid on recently, and was very sorry to lose out on. I supply the eBay photo below. There is a more common, generic black cat toy which is very similar, made of the same oil cloth fabric and general design, that does not carry the Felix name as well. I include one of those, snatched off the internet, below.

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Felix toy not in Pam’s Pictorama collection.

Toy cat, not in Pictorama collection

As I looked more closely at the toy he is holding I decided it is actually closer to this Puss ‘n Boots version I stumbled across while looking for the photo above. (The boots are a give-away!)

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Puss ‘n Boots not in Pam’s Pictorama collection

I admire what these photos show to be Jimmie’s rather single-minded affection for this toy. I wouldn’t mind having that nice cat toy for my own either – maybe someday Santa or the eBay gods will deliver him to me one day.

Say Cheese!

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: This photo could have been an easy one to accidentally pass by at first, but at closer inspection it really cracked me up! This little gal with her toothy overbite, which coincidentally and perfectly matches this great, somewhat over-sized Dean’s Rag Doll Mickey, has managed to place herself (or be placed) on a sort of platform. She makes a splendid photo and clearly she and the photographer have conspired to create it. Her lace dress provides a great texture against the pattern of the ferns and leaves – a perfect setting. She is placed atop of this small stage to make her look like a delighted, smiling toy herself. Her Mary Janes, slightly imperfect white knee highs and, best of all her period semi-bowl cut hair complete the image.

This photo came from Britain. Although the toys were made there, this surprises me as something about the image and the foliage seems very west coast American to me – California? But no. There is nothing written on this photo and no indication of date, or alas identity. These Dean Mickey’s (and truly, I wouldn’t mind owning this nice large one at all!) were most popular in the 1930’s I believe. I have written about the ones in my collection a few times previously – Big Mickey and Starting Small with Mice. Below is a photo of some of my smaller but similar fellows – note those toothy grins! I am so pleased this little girl and her Mickey have come to reside in my collection where she belongs.

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Mickeys from Pams-Pictorama.com Collection

A Very Felix Christmas

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Card not in my collection

 

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Christmas is hard on our heels and how better to roll up our sleeves than these two amazing photos of epic toy hauls under a glittering tinsel-wrapped Christmas tree? (That’s back when tinsel had some heft and you would reuse it each year – and the cat always wanted to eat it, but that is true of tinsel today too.) Unjust as life can be at times, I was beat out for one of these cards on eBay so they have now gone their separate ways after all these years and I am pleased that at least this electronic record keeps them united. Admittedly, I put a slightly higher bid on the one I purchased as Felix plays a larger role, and I thought the composition was marginally better.

At first I thought that these were two different children and even that one might be a boy, but looking at them for a bit I have decided that it is the same little girl in both. The bonanza of toys has been arranged differently and as I mentioned, Felix gets more of a close up portrait shot in mine. The little girl also seems more engaged with her loot in my photo too. Kim speculated that the toys and scene are all props which is sort of heartbreaking if true. How could they possibly plunk a child down among all that and then yank her away? Oh no! Talk about childhood trauma. I prefer to believe that these were taken post gift opening at home.

I believe our man here is a Schuco Yes No Felix and you could move his tail and his arms (and maybe head?) would move. I came close to purchasing one earlier this year, although he no longer has his movement. (A toy-minded friend told me that it was silly not to buy him since he personally hadn’t moved the arms on his Yes No Felix in years and I was unlikely to miss it.) Perhaps I will find him under my tree one day.

The patina of photo tricks notwithstanding, the sense of childhood wonder on Christmas morning is well captured. Although my memories of childhood Christmas tend to blend together a bit, certain bits and pieces of memories do stand out – my first bike one year (pink and white with a basket), a house for Barbie another, the acquisition of Squeaky the stuffed dog. (I cover some of this in my prior posts found at A Girl and Her Toys and Felix on an Outing.) While my parents have always been big on reading (I swear my younger brother was so frustrated by how much reading went on in our house that as a pre-schooler he memorized the books read to him in a form of faux-reading, and then immediately mastered the skill upon entering school; he was reading the New York Times in no time) so books were always a part of Christmas. However, my folks were not overly intellectual about toys and were easily maneuvered into purchasing us all sorts of indulgent toys of the day. I had an Easy Bake oven and my Barbies lead a very upper middle class life with clothes, homes and cars. They dated GI Joe as well as Ken and a strange doctor doll. And of course there were stuffed animals – as recently examined in Toy Cat. We had racing cars and trains – even before Edward was born. My father did not discriminate. All this to say, I am not someone who collects toys because she was deprived as a child.

Here I am with Squeaky, a photo I have shown before. Although I remember my father taking photos every Christmas morning, I do not have any others at hand. A Merry Christmas to all and let the Christmas toys begin! I know I am hoping for a certain Felix toy this Christmas myself…

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A very little Pam and Squeaky the Dog on Christmas morning, Pams-Pictorama.com

 

Let the Toys Begin!

Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: With Christmas rapidly approaching we at Pictorama are focused, as we so often are, on toys. Today is this splendid pedal car and nice, extra large, jointed Schoenhut Felix which appear to be the property of the toddler labeled Paul Shirley. There is no date and no writing on the photo, except the name near the top.

In some ways this is a timeless photo – or at least considering the toys within a certain period of time, between about 1925 and 1940’s. (Although the type of photo print places this firmly in the latter decade.) It is an extraordinary pedal car owned by Master Shirley. Built solidly like a tank, this toy car looks like it might weigh in at the poundage of a real car today. There is a vague farm vehicle utilitarian design about it. Felix is atop – helping to direct the operation no doubt. Despite the somewhat down at the heels nature of the yard shown, this is a pretty lucky kid toy-wise. One has to imagine that this was an expensive toy car – although I might also consider that it was home constructed. Is that possible? Quite a feat for someone if true, well beyond the average soap derby model.

Was Felix a favorite toy I wonder – or did he end up perched there for other reasons? There is a motometer or hood ornament on this car – sadly it does not appear to be the Felix model – the Felix toy makes me think of it. I have included a very nice example here from a Hake’s sale below in case you are not familiar with this item – I have never had the chance to buy one with nice paint on it like this. I do dream of living in a time when cars were decorated with Felix however – talk about jolly!

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Felix hood ornament, not in my collection

 

As children we all seem addicted to movement and locomotion at an early age. Funny that as tots we immediately want scooters, tricycles, bikes, roller skates, ice skates, sleds and toy cars. Why is that? Nothing like the sight of a bike under the Christmas tree or with a birthday bow to wind you up. We love the movement and speed – a taste of independence perhaps. You started dreaming of the adventures you’d have the moment you saw them. Paul actually seems a bit young and overwhelmed by his toy good fortune – or at least indifferent.

I have a vague memory of a bright red trike early on, but my purple and white two wheeler is the one I really remember. Never owned roller skates, they were not in fashion then I guess. I have very fond memory of sleds, first a wooden one with runners and later a metal one, a sort of flexible flyer, that especially pleased me. Sadly we lived near the ocean where snow did not accumulate and we rarely had very good sledding. We made up for it however with bodies of water that frequently froze for skating – a small pond near our house that froze easily, as well as two rivers that also occasionally froze for our ice skating pleasure. I hope Paul grew to love his toy car over time – not to mention his nice Felix toy – and remembered them both fondly.

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Kids and Dad w: toy

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: The summer photo fun continues with this family snapshot. If I had to guess I would say the 30’s or 40’s although it has a timeless quality. There is no information on it and no evidence that it lived in an album. Since I collect such things, I do wonder about those photos which manage to find their way down the decades and end up with me (or another collector), as opposed to those which are lost or destroyed. It is easy to understand how the photo postcards got saved – especially those dandy ones posing with Felix. They were by their very nature special and probably had a place of honor in the family because they were fun and were kept by future generations – and eventually strangers. Snapshots like this one have a somewhat higher bar I think, but this is both a great photo and fun so it is easy to see how it was preserved. I think there is a part of me which collects them because the idea of all those homeless photos makes me sad.

I debated about the toy being a Felix or an off-model Mickey. Now that I have blown it up (it is a small, sort of 2.5″ x 3.5″) I can see that it is indeed a faux Mickey – maybe the kind given away as a prize at a carnival. He clearly has a place of pride squarely in the middle of this picture, Dad looking down at him. The two boys look so much alike they could almost be twins, but the one on the right is a bit older – and they look very much like the man holding them who we will assume is Dad. The small, comical hat on the older boy gives him a jaunty attitude, but the younger boy is the one holding Mickey. Meanwhile, Dad’s got them both, scooped up in his arms and they are enjoying a nice day in this pleasantly overgrown backyard.

The sun is just coming up on a beautiful, hot July Sunday morning here in New York City as I write this, and I suggest everyone grab a loved one and a toy and get a photo for the future today.