Sunday, December 21, 2008

Toytown banner

Another Kay Kamen point of sale banner, this time from 1936.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

Baby it's cold out there...

Well, in my part of the world we have had three snowstorms in a matter of just a couple of weeks. It's been snowing all day today. We're supposed to get a respite on Monday, but then another cold front roars in on late Tuesday and the weatherman is calling for another large dump of snow through Wednesday. We'll be having a white Christmas for sure this year - yippee! Needless to say, the kids are ecstatic!

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

I have a few errands to run tomorrow, so I thought I'd dig out my trusty scarf to keep warm.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

Actually, this great scarf and the accompanying box are another pair of cool vintage Mickey artifacts sold at a recent Hake's Americana auction. He has the neatest stuff.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Toytown advertisement

Another Toytown newspaper ad from my clipping file. This one appeared in the November 29, 1935 edition of The Chester Times. The ad also contained another smaller Mickey illustration and listed the new Lionel Mickey Mouse Circus Train for sale at $1.85.

Text contained in the ad read:

"MICKEY MOUSE" himself is here...he stepped right out of the moving pictures to come and entertain the children at Chester's largest toy department!

Bring all the children to Tollin's and let them see "MICKEY MOUSE" in person...he has a nice little souvenir for all the kiddies. You, too, will thrill and feel young again when you see the hundreds and hundreds of new toy ideas for boys and girls.

Christmas candle

This electric Christmas-themed candle sold recently in a Hake's Americana auction. I had one in my own collection many years ago. The decorations on the faux candle are the same decals found on the 1936 NOMA Mickey Mouse Christmas tree light set. A neat little item.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

German Christmas tree ornaments

This great set of pre-war German Snow White ornaments is currently for sale on eBay. For those who may be interested, the item number is 250343200316.

These paper ornaments were originally filled with candy, which was accessed by removing the character's head from their body. They could be refilled and reused every Christmas season. There appears to be two Dopey figures in this set.

Friday, December 19, 2008

British Christmas tree lights

This set of Christmas tree lights was recently auctioned on eBay. Manufactured by The British Thomson-Houston Company, the set dates from the mid-30s.

Mickey & Minnie visit with Santa Claus

From my clipping file, an interesting photo and story which appeared in the November 23, 1934 issue of The Oakland Tribune:

The photo's caption read: "The mice will play, even if Santa Claus does give them permission. Here's Santa greeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Kahn's toy department. "

The accompanying story read:


Kahn's Department Store has introduced a new feature in connection with its toy department on the fourth floor. The two Walt Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, will be on hand tomorrow to lead Santa Claus to his throne. This special feature has been arranged for Saturday only. The Disney characters and Santa Claus will be on hand to greet Oakland's youngsters all day tomorrow.

It appears that adult-sized Halloween costumes have been used to depict the two characters. I think this scenario was repeated countless times in toy departments across the country in the 1930s.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Philadelphia Gas Works - Mickey Mouse Magazine

Fantastic little promotional item published during the Christmas season of 1935 by the Philadelphia Gas Works Company.

The neat thing about this publication is that it not only features Mickey Mouse on the cover, but also contains a Mickey Mouse Magazine promotion on the inside pages. There can't be too many of these that survived the ravages of time.

Courtesy the collection of Dennis Books.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday Mirror - December 10, 1936

This newspaper was for sale recently on eBay. Donald stands under a sprig of mistletoe, waiting for a kiss, while Mickey, Minnie and Pluto look on.

Macy's - parade and premiums

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, formerly called the Christmas Parade, had its genesis in 1924, when a group of employees organized a parade that included animals from the Central Park Zoo, professional bands and floats.

The first Disney character to appear in a Macy's parade was none other than Mickey Mouse, who made his debut in 1934. Mickey measured over 50 feet tall and was constructed by the Goodyear Rubber Company. Attendants dressed in adult Mickey and Minnie Mouse Halloween costumes guided the gigantic balloon through the streets of New York.

Photo that appeared in the New York Herald Tribune, December 9, 1934

Two exceptionally rare Disney books also have a Macy's department store tie-in. In 1934 and 1935, Disney licensee Whitman published small Big Little Book-type premiums, which were handed-out exclusively by the Macy's Toy Department Santa Claus.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie at Macy's was published in 1934 and ran 144 pages. This soft-cover book told the story of the Pilgrims.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie March to Macy's
was published in 1935 and also ran 144 pages in length. This book told the story of Mickey and Minnie's trip to New York City.

The newspaper clipping comes from my own files, while the two premiums are from the collection of Dennis Books.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1937 Walt Disney Christmas card

The 1937 corporate Christmas card was actually two cards. The larger greeting card contained a tipped-in color illustration on the inside - this art was created by the great Swedish artist Gustaf Tenggren and was also used on the original release poster. The image features the Prince and the Hunstman, which were rarely used in promotional material. Tenggren's Dwarfs also have an "old world" look to them.

The 1937 card also contained a smaller card featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Pluto.

The first card is courtesy my friend Dennis Books, while the second resides in my own collection.

1933 Walt Disney Christmas card

Here is the 1933 Disney Studio corporate Christmas card, courtesy my friend Dennis Books.

The card promotes the three stars from the hit Silly Symphony
Three Little Pigs, which had been released by United Artists on May 27, 1933. The eight minute short went on to win the 1934 Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoon.

Three Pigs Christmas Seals

The promotion of Christmas Seals began in Denmark in 1904 and was later adopted in the United States as a fundraising / awareness tool in 1907. The modified Cross of Lorraine seen on the American Lung Association gummed stamps was suggested by a French physician as a symbol of the "crusade against tuberculosis."

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

The Disney Three Little Pigs poster was created in 1934 for the Minnesota Public Health Association.

The above 1934 newspaper clipping promoted the poster. In case you can't read the copy, the text stated:

Fight the
Buy Christmas Seals

Walt Disney, creator of the famous "Three Little Pigs" and other motion picture cartoons, has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of Christmas Seals in the form of the above cartoon. The Minnesta [sic] Public Health Association has had the cartoon made into a poster which is being sent to every school as part of the campaign to enlist the interets of children in tuberculosis prevention.

Toytown advertisements

Here are a couple of more 1936 Toytown newspaper ads from my clipping file.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1936 Walt Disney Christmas card

Compare the image of Donald on this year's corporate Christmas card to the one produced in 1934 - quite the change. The image on the 1936 card was re-used several years ago on a limited edition plate sold at Disneyland.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

Toytown promotion -part 2

A 1936 point of sale Toytown poster. The retailer could have used this signage to advertise merchandise, prices, specials or the poster could have been used as a directional marker, indicating the direction to Toytown.

Letters to Santa

In the 1930s many newspapers ran "letters to Santa" pages. Here is a sampling from the December 18, 1936 Edwardsville Intelligencer:

Dear Santa Claus - I am a little girl 4 years old. Please bring me a red bicycle, a Shirley Temple doll with white hat, coat and muff, a Mickey Mouse circus, a little knife, fork and spoon, games, books, candy and a big Christmas tree. Don't forget all the other little boys and girls. Your little friend, Nancy Jayne Watson.

Dear Santa Claus - I am a little girl six years old. I like school and like to hear you over the radio. I would like a streamline scooter, a buggy, also a Ducky Doll, books, colors, Mickey Mouse ball and anything you think nice for a little girl. Don't forget mother and everyone dear to me. Your little friend, Joyce Ann Clark.

Dear Santa Claus - For Christmas I want some books, a tiny doll, Mickey Mouse wrist watch, something to keep my doll clothes in, a Christmas tree, candy, nuts and fruit. Don't forget my two sisters, my parents, teacher, Miss Werner, and the children in my room. Your friend Wanda Lee Cross.

Dear Santa Claus - For Christmas I want a rocking chair, a doll, a tricycle, a big ball, a Mickey Mouse and plenty of candy, oranges and nuts. And please don't forget my mother, aunties and Uncles. Joan Shaw.

Mickey Mouse in person

From my clipping file, a December 1935 newspaper ad announcing Mickey's appearance at a Pennsylvania department store Toyland. The ad's accompanying text box read:

Mickey Mouse Has A Gift For Every Child

Bring all the children here to see Tollin's real live 'Mickey Mouse'... give them the thrill of seeing him in person! 'Mickey' has a little souvenir for each child that comes with its parent. And don't forget...YOU DON'T NEED CASH, tell us to charge it!"

Several other newspaper clippings I have from 1935 indicate the premium of choice for retail Santa Clauses were Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse paper masks. Perhaps that is the premium referred to in this instance.

The bold "you don't need cash" appeared as is in the ad. I wonder if this is where the country's credit woes had their genesis?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

1935 Walt Disney Christmas card

The illustration on the front of this card was reproduced a few years ago on items sold at the Disney Store including a coffee mug, heavy stock paper gift bag, and a blanket.

The neat thing about this card are the illustrations found inside that tell of a Christmas party held at Mickey's house - these illustrations and the accompanying rhyming verse are exact copies of those found in the 1936 Whitman book, Mickey Mouse and His Friends, which can be seen here.

Another interesting item I discovered tonight while admiring these graphics, is that the Donald Duck illustration found in the Studio Christmas card and the Mickey Mouse book, is very similar to the Donald drawing depicted on a flyer found
here, that I just posted a couple of days ago.

I also noticed the flyer shows Horace picking out a collar, Clarabelle picking out a lavaliere, and Pluto picking out a pull toy with a cat on it - these are the items all three receive as presents in the book...

New York Santa Clauses in revolt!

The Night Before Christmas, a 1933 Disney Silly Symphony cartoon

From my newspaper clipping file comes this amusing story. A headline on page six of the December 15, 1933
Waterloo Daily Courier screamed:

Santa Clauses Ask 35-Hour Week, Flay Inroads of Mickey and Pigs
Hundred Gotham Professionals Humiliated and Irked by New Rivals

The article reported "Members of the Santa Claus Association... met... at the Grand Central Palace and demanded a 35 hour week... at the same time the Kris Kringles adopted a resolution condemning the 1933 practice in department stores of permitting Mickey and Minnie Mouse, as well as the Three Little Pigs, to 'chisel in' on the Santa Claus business."

John Mangan, president of the Santa Association, delivered a rousing speech to the roughly 100 Santa Clauses in attendance. The newspaper story reported Mangan saved some particularly unkind words for Walt Disney: "[Mangan] was... vitriolic in discussing the manner in which Walt Disney is undermining the Santa Claus business, describing the Disney influence as 'plain, dog-gone boring from within.'"

Mangan continued his rant: '''In some of the major department stores, fellows,' he said, 'we Santa Clauses are faced with ruin and disgrace. They have got men dressed up like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and like the Three Little Pigs. These impostors and pretenders are permitted to rove about at will and play with the children and I am informed that many of the kiddies almost ignore us in order to follow these walking nightmares around. Such a condition has got to be brought to an end and we are the ones to do the job.'"

Several questions came to mind when I read this article.

1) I wonder how Mangan felt a year or two later when Disney merchandise and point of sale material really dominated retail toy departments;

2) I wonder how Mangan felt a year or two later when, as a Santa, he would have been handing out Disney themed Christmas premiums at the end of each child's visit, including the two Macy's department store premiums, which I'll post this weekend, or the Magic Movie Palette seen here, or Pinocchio's Christmas Party seen here, or Mickey Mouse and the Magic Carpet seen here, or Dopey's Christmas Party; and,

3) I wonder if Mangan ever made it to Disneyland and if he did, what he thought of all the "impostors and pretenders" he would have seen there.

Too funny!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

1934 Walt Disney Christmas card

This particular card was reproduced on a limited edition plate in the 1980s that was sold at Disneyland. The illustration contains great images of a long-billed Donald Duck, an early depiction of Goofy and the rarely seen Clara Cluck.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Walt Disney skiing

Just a great early to mid-30s photo of Walt Disney and the large-sized Mickey Mouse Charlotte Clark doll seen in many early promotional shots. Click here to read an earlier post about these dolls.

Walt Disney was an avid skier and there are many 1930s newspaper articles that detail trips he made to local California resorts. Who said Walt didn't have a sense of humor?

I wonder if this photo was taken at Yosemite in January 1935? The outfit Walt Disney wears is almost an exact match of the one he wears in the image I posted on my blog here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

unknown Christmas illustration

I had originally thought this illustration was used in the 1933 corporate Christmas card, but I no longer believe this is the case. If anyone knows what this illustration was used for, please drop me a line. Thanks.

Toytown promotion

An example of the stunningly beautiful graphics often employed in Disney marketing campaigns - in this case, a Christmas 1936 newsprint flyer.

Mickey Mouse street signage 1936

The image in this post comes from a newspaper clipping I have in my files.

During the Christmas season of 1936, the Fresno Merchants Association launched a marketing plan that included the use of Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus. According to the newspaper article, "every electrolier along Van Neas Avenue, Fulton Street and Broadway will bear gay signs wishing the Yuletide shopping crowds Season's Greetings and a Merry Christmas."

The article continued, "Electroliers at intersections will be decorated with artificial brick bases topped by a large Mickey Mouse carrying a Christmas tree. Through...Walt Disney Productions...the merchants association has obtained permission to use Mickey Mouse for the decorations without the usual royalty charge levied."

A letter sent to the association from the Disney Studio stated, "We are glad to co-operate with you and hope that the results are pleasing to all of the Fresno merchants. Please extend to the association our very best wishes for a successful Christmas season."

It appears from the article that at least two different styles of Mickey were used on the light standards.

I have sent out some emails to several leads and if I hear back anything of interest, I'll be sure to pass along the info.
In the meantime, if anyone has a photo of one of these decorations in use, please let me know.

I wonder if one of these rarities still exists today, tucked-up in someone's attic, or hidden in a corner of grandma's basement?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

NOMA Mickey Mouse Christmas tree lights

This box of eight replacement shades dates from about 1936. To see an ad for the complete set of boxed lights, click here. I'll try and post my 1930s Disney light sets over the course of this month.

Snow White point of sale banner

This great 1938 two-sided banner was the brainchild of Disney licensing rep Kay Kamen.

Kamen devised and instituted marketing campaigns that ensured Disney toys were featured dominantly on the shelves of the nation's leading retail outlets. He even went so far as to design and publish elaborate Christmas campaign manuals that provided retailers with complete merchandise plans for the holiday season.

Directional signs, banners, static and mechanical three-dimensional display items, and special holiday premiums printed for distribution by toy department Santa Clauses helped feed the publics desire for all things Disney.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Snow White ornaments

This image shows the lid for the box of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs glass Christmas tree ornaments. Copyright 1938 Walt Disney Enterprises.

The box originally held eight glass ornaments, each of which was a solid color: Doc silver; Bashful and Sleepy red; Grumpy green; Happy and Sneezy blue; Dopey gold; and Snow White, well, white of course.

1932 Walt Disney Christmas card

The third corporate Christmas card issued by Walt Disney, features the Studio's major characters out for a merry coach ride on a snowy day. Great graphics. Too bad we don't know the name of the artist(s) that created some of these greeting cards.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

1931 Walt Disney Christmas card

Walt Disney sent out his first corporate Christmas card in 1930. Very few examples of that card exist today. Another rarity is the Studio greeting card from 1931, an example of which was offered by Ted Hake earlier this month.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

This particular card was hand-signed by Walt Disney. Disney mailed the card to his second grade teacher, Ethel Fischer, on December 29th, care of the Benton School in Kansas City. As all schools were closed for the Christmas break, the post office redirected the card to Fischer's home address.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana

A group of Fischer's items, including this card, was offered to a friend many years ago. In addition to the pictured Christmas card, I recall the lot also included several Mickey Mouse books and personal letters, all signed by Walt Disney. My friend offered a large sum for the items, but the family turned him down, thinking I suppose, that if he had offered as much as he did, the items were in fact worth more. My friend offered a very fair price for the items, but lost out when the family eventually located someone who was willing to pay slightly more.

A second card from 1931 sold a couple of months ago for almost $3,000.00 That card belonged to Carolyn Kay Shafer, who was Disney's Confidential Secretary.

I absolutely love early 1930s Disney merchandise and the related publicity and marketing material. I think you'll agree the graphics, color and overall layout of this early, ultra rare card are superb!

Mickey Mouse store pin

This great looking pin-back button was sold recently through Hake's Americana & Collectibles. Just a rare and graphically appealing Mickey as Santa pin from 1931. It's interesting to note that the toy sack contains two Mickey Mouse toys.

Image courtesy Hake's Americana