Thursday, April 29, 2021

More Stuff From The Box!

Huzzah for Stuff From the Box!

First up is this neat dexterity puzzle from the 1920s featuring Felix the Cat. Felix was introduce in 1919, and became enormously popular. Merchandise of all kinds would have his likeness! By the time sound films came along in the later '20s, Felix's fame faded. Most dexterity puzzles have three or four tiny BBs that you could maneuver into recessed spots, perhaps to complete a funny face. This unusual example has an aluminum mouse that players would try to shoo into the metal box (or mouse trap?) at the bottom. It's pretty easy.

Next is this 1942 Captain Midnight secret compartment ring, given out as a premium for Ovaltine - and also reissued in 1945 by Kix Cereal as the "Kix Secret Compartment Pilot's Ring". It's chunky design was bold enough so that boys unaccustomed to wearing rings would be proud to punch Adolph H. in the nose with it.

The secret compartment isn't very big - but one might have been able to carry a square of microfilm with the instructions to build a new death ray.

In 1940, the Superman Bubblegum Club (from the dark and secretive company, "Gum, Inc." - not a joke!) offered this beautiful brass badge with the Man of Steel himself as he proudly proclaimed himself an American (we all know he was an immigrant from the planet Krypton). The badge was also offered in 1941 as part of the Defense Club milk program. Superman had only been introduced two years earlier, so it's neat to have an early artifact like this.

I love this tin litho badge featuring Chico, the young Indian boy who was the mascot for the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1950s. The lower part is about the size of a silver dollar (for those of you who remember old silver dollars).

Chico appeared at Disneyland in person when Walt Disney and Fred Gurley introduced the new Grand Canyon Diorama in 1958.

I suppose it was inevitable there would be at least one World's Fair item, and this time it's a chunky little (about .75 inches high) brass pin featuring the Trylon and Perisphere, linked by a fine chain to the number "40" - 1940 being the second year of the New York World's Fair. My mom calls these double pins "sweater pins",  and that's good enough for me.

And finally, here are two tiny celluloid charms, probably made in Japan, with an energetic (and pink!) Pluto the Pup, and Elmer Elephant (from the 1936 Silly Symphony). Timid Elmer was popular enough to have his likeness appear on a number of merchandise items,  though he is mostly forgotten today.

You just know there will be more Stuff From the Box!


Nanook said...

More neat stuff-! I'll take the 'sweater pin', thank you very much.

Thanks. Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, it's amazing that your Felix puzzle could be 100 years old, now! That's my favorite, out of today's fun choices. What is the oldest item in any of your boxes of stuff? Just curious...

Thanks for another peek into your treasure box of stuff...

Chuck said...

Definitely early Superman. Note the triangular shield behind the "S." Ma & Pa Kent taught him right from wrong and to stand up for truth, justice, and the American Way, but he still gets mixed up when getting dressed. Underwear, then pants, Clark...underwear, then pants.

TokyoMagic! said...

The Felix puzzle is the item that makes my heart go pit-a-pat! Righty-O! Ah, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Stu29573 said...

Strangely, my favorite items are the charms. I say "strangely" because there's a lot of good stuff here! I would have gone for the ring, but how am I going to fit my death ray in that tiny thing? sheesh!
By the way. few know that Chico grew up and later starred in a sitcom with Jack Albertson. Trivia you can use!

Pegleg Pete said...

Great stuff, Major! I too particularly like the Felix puzzle. My sister collects early Felix The Cat items and I've never seen one of these before – very cool, indeed.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I particularly like that sweater pin because the Trylon and Perisphere are solid brass… not stamped. It’s a real heavy little chunk!

Lou and Sue, I didn’t even think of that, but YES, it is cool that the puzzle is about a century old! The oldest stuff in my boxes is probably that amber (with the insects trapped inside) that I showed months ago. The oldest man-made thing? Hmmm, not sure, though it might be a pin from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Chuck, what is the significance of the triangular shield? I don’t really know much about the evolution of Superman. Clark’s pants have become underwear due to the order he puts them on. Makes ya think.

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, the “Righty-o!” Felix is from much later, the 1950’s. I watched those as a kid (What was up with the Master Cylinder??), but they are nowhere near as charming as the silent films. FYI, the dexterity puzzle is made of metal and glass (with Felix printed on a piece of paper or thin board), no plastic like later examples.

Stu29573, I do like those little charms, so humble and yet appealing. My mom gave me a box with around a hundred of those old celluloid charms, everything from baseball players to Popeye to elephants to… well, you name it. And you’ll have to wear your death ray inside your Captain Midnight hat, it still used vacuum tubes (and got really hot!). Believe it or not, now I’m going to have the theme song from “Chico and the Man” stuck in my head. Thanks!

Pegleg Pete, oh, I’d like to see your sister’s collection! Even just a nice photo of a display (assuming she has a display. Vintage Felix is very appealing. I believe that there are several different dexterity puzzles that are similar to the one I showed.

DrGoat said...

I thought my favorite was Superman, but then I saw Chico, and then those charming charms. I guess they're all favorites today Major. You have seriously cool stuff in your vault. That Felix puzzle has so much of that ancient mana to it. I'm surprised that it doesn't have that glow, like the Lost Ark. That ring is a doozy too.
Your Mom is a treasure beyond worth.
Thanks Major.

JC Shannon said...

I'm with Goat on this one. I was always a fan of the man of steel. For me, that will always be George Reeves. So anything Superman gets my vote. I have a photo of George hanging in our guest bedroom. However. the Chico Santa Fe button is equally cool. Anyone remember the jingle? "Santa Fe, all the way, it's fun to ride the train!" Great collection items today Major, thanks.

Nanook said...

@ JC Shannon-
I do remember the jingle. And speaking of jingles... evidently we [were] supposed to have the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visit my place of work on Sunday, but was cancelled at the last minute. Which got me to thinking of one their songs... ♫ Here's little Oscar in his Wienermobile (honk, honk) Little Oscar, the world's smallest chef. From his tiny, tiny kitchen... ♪ Unfortunately, I can't quite recall the rest of the lyrics, and the internet is of no help. (Obviously, I'm not talking about "Oh, I'd love to be an Oscan Mayer Weiner..." This song pre-dates that jingle).

With all this talk of Felix the Cat - my mind is drawn back to my childhood, and one of the patient rooms in my orthodontist's office. It had a Felix the Cat clock on the wall - with moving eyes and tail, but the original version - with a real electric motor - . But with its aging electric motor, it produced a rhythmic, low-level 'pulsing' sound, that was rather hypnotic, sitting in the patient chair, while Dr. Muchnic was installing, tightening, adding braces, taking impressions, etc.

Major Pepperidge said...

DrGoat, so great to hear from you two days in a row! That bodes well. I’m glad you liked all of the stuff today - it was sort of the “luck of the draw”, since I’m sure I have photos of stuff that will not interest some people at all. I don’t know what “mana” is, but I assume it’s a good thing! And yes, my mom is pretty great.

Jonathan, I used to watch “The Adventures of Superman” when I was a kid, but I think for me, Christopher Reeve was the Superman who made more of an impact. Maybe that movie came along just at the right time for me at my particular age. I don’t know that Santa Fe jingle, sadly.

Nanook, oh man, bummer that the Wienermobile visit was cancelled. You could have gotten a free whistle! I want to go to the Henry Ford Museum, where they have one of the original Wienermobiles from the 1950s. Beautifully restored, of course. I have an autographed card with a photo of Little Oscar (the autograph is printed, unfortunately). And I used to have a toy wienermobile in which Little Oscar would pop up and down from the top, but I gave it to someone who admired it. Now I want to buy a replacement! I don’t know how different (mechanically) the new Felix clocks are from the old ones, but I’ve been to stores where there will be a wall of kitty cat clocks in all colors, and there is a sort of comforting low-level gear sound. I would go to any orthodontist who had a Felix clock!

Anonymous said...

The Box never disappoints.

I did not know the young man from Santa Fe had a name, but I remember his face clearly. Santa Fe stopped in the little town near my home and the Super Chief engines with the red and gold livery and the pulsating headlight were familiar sights in childhood. The track ran near the farm and sometimes we had to wait for the trains to pass while driving to town. That pin really brings those memories back.

If I could choose one thing, though, it would be the ring with the secret compartment. I could carry my library of Tom Swift novels on a microdot in there. I tried to build a death ray from the instructions in a Tom Swift novel, but it did not work. I went through my Tom Swift collection the other day, I have the entire second series except for volume 4, and the very last one. I remember The Giant Robot binding just fell apart, and by the time the last novel came out, I had moved on to Heinlein. I'm thinking of scanning the covers and selling the books.

Major, I love these Box posts, you have the coolest things.


K. Martinez said...

Love the Santa Fe Chico Fan Club tin litho badge. It's my favorite today as I love all things train/railroad related, but that Felix the Cat puzzle is super cool. Thanks for sharing more of your stuff from the box, Major.

Melissa said...

Gadzooks, too many good treasures to choose a favorite from in this batch! I guess if somebody held a water gun to my head, I'd choose the sweater pin because I'm a sucker for the Trylon and Perisphere and it's something I'd wear, but the Felix puzzle is clever and cute, and what could be cooler than a Nazi-punching ring with a secret compartment?

"...linked by a fine chain to the number "40" - 1940 being the second year of the New York World's Fair."

Makes me think of Groucho's line from At the Circus: "I met her at the World's Fair in 1900, marked down from 1940."

- - - - -
Picking up on a thread from yesterday's comments... I was thinking about DrGoat's scarf with the map of Italy, when what should I spot in a secondhand shop today but a babushka with a map of Bukhansan National Park in Seoul, S. Korea. Although I've never been there and surely never will, I just couldn't resist.

Chuck said...

Major, Superman's shield was on a triangular background from Action Comics #7 in 1938 until Action Comics #26 in 1940, when it was first shown as having five sides (the familiar inverted triangle with the upper corners cut off). It kind of shifted back and forth during 1940, but by the 1941 Fleischer cartoons the design had settled into a five-sided shield.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I have no personal memory of Chico, or much of Santa Fe in her heyday. I kind of wish I’d experienced the railroads when they were at their height of popularity and luxury! My grandmother told me how much she loved to take the train to and from the Midwest to visit her sister in Wisconsin. We have one photo of my great aunt arriving at Union Station in Los Angeles, but like many of my grandfather’s photos, it is blurry. There is something about a secret compartment in a ring that gets the heart beating! I’ve still never read any Tom Swift, they just weren’t something that I was aware of until long after my childhood (though I think I’d heard the name - it didn’t mean anything to me). Glad you enjoy these!

K. Martinez, it took me a while to find a Chico Club badge that was “like new” without any bend to the tab, or any big scratches, so I was mighty glad to find this one. I really need to take more photos for future “Stuff From the Box” installments!!

Melissa, I have to admit that this IS a good batch for SFTB! If I do say so myself. I’m not sure what I’d choose as my favorite, since I obviously like all of the items. That Groucho, he always got the best lines - though Chico (not the kid from Santa Fe) got some good lines too. Thanks for the photo of that scarf, you should have bought it and worn it every day!

Chuck, thank you! I never knew that Superman’s “S” wasn’t always the five-sided shape that we usually see today, although now that you mention it, there is a famous (and expensive) early wood composition toy of Superman with a triangle on his chest. I am fond of old Superman stuff, but of course most of it is priced way too high for my casual interest.

Omnispace said...

So much cool stuff today! The Felix puzzle is tops even if it is easy to solve. I had a similar "puzzle" with a woman's face and a small fine chain that would complete the profile of her nose, mouth, and chin. It was highly entertaining what one could come up with by jiggling the chain around.

Nanook, I once saw an actual Weinermobile in the wild - on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. I almost jumped out of the taxi I was in to give it a hug. Major, The Henry Ford museum is a fantastic place. Not only do they have an original Weinermobile, but the Dymaxion house, Mold-A-Rama machines, presidential limos, and an entire Holiday Inn motel room. Consider it a much larger version of your collectables Box.

Stu29573 said...

I never read Tom Swift either. I, however, LOVED Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators!

DrGoat said...

I've got 25 or so Tom Swift Jr. books, in that lovely shade of yellow or the occasional blue. My Giant Robot got a lot of wear too and so did the Ultrasonic Cycloplane. About the time the Polar Ray Dynasphere came out, I was into Jack Vance and of course, J.R.R.

Major Pepperidge said...

Omnispace, I used to have one of those puzzles with the face and the chain! I wonder what ever happened to it? Maybe the old “mom threw it out” is the case here. And I have read a lot about the Henry Ford, I would love to go there! I didn’t know about the intact Holiday Inn motel room, so great. I wish I could go NOW.

Stu29573, was “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” a series? Or a single book?

DrGoat, what is the significance of the yellow books versus the blue books? I assume it’s age? Sounds like that Giant Robot story must have been one of the best!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Melissa: What a great find! How cool is that?!

JG said...

Major, the second series TS that I had were bright yellow covers, the original series (Tom Swift and his Motorbike etc.) were blue buckram. I don’t know if any second series were blue, I don’t remember any.

Dr. Goat, that’s terrific. Dad bought me the first one Flying Lab when I was home from school sick. I read it in about four hours. I loved those books. Dynasphere was a great story, Cycloplane too. I really liked the Space Station. I read a few last year, amazing how much I remembered.

One of my architect friends designed food service kitchens for the fleet of weinermobiles, true story.

One day we caught the SF train in town and rode it to Bakersfield, end of the line, ate lunch in the dining car and rode back. Great memory.


Stu29573 said...

It was a series of mysteries. Much better than Hardy Boys. Heck, you can read them as an adult and think they're pretty good...