Walt Disney's Magic Touches All of Us

Posts tagged ‘Disneyana’

Keeping Disney Time

I’ve written in the past about collecting Disneyana (See Hooked on Collecting). One of the items, I have gravitated to are timepieces. In the book “The Mickey Mouse Watch, From the Beginning of Time” by Robert Heide & John Gilmen, they relate that Tim Luke, who was working then as the head of collectibles at Christie’s, called the Mickey Mouse timepieces pivotal and central to the theme of Disneyana collecting.

I don’t wear any jewelry regularly, other than my wedding band. But, wearing a Disney watch seems like a way to make a statement without being flashy and it can be a great conversation starter. I have some very nice non-Disney watches that I wear regularly. But I also have some Disney watches that I find myself wearing often. All the items in the post are from my collection.

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LtoR: SII Marketing; WDW original artwork (they used to sell these at Uptown Jewelers on Main St); Seiko; early D23 gift; Kodak, WDW 25th Anniversary; WDW SE Collector’s Series

I also have collected some very early Disney watches which I don’t wear. Watches were not the first item Disney granted merchandising rights for. That goes to a simple pad of paper in 1929, shortly after the release of Steamboat Willie. Watches didn’t appear until 1933 and were first produced by the Waterbury Clock Company under the Ingersoll label . The first Mickey wristwatches were sold for $3.75.

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Because the watches proved to be so popular, (Macy’s in NYC sold 11,000 of them in one day and they outsold the World’s Fair commemorative 3-1 in 1939). Ingersoll sold more than 2.5 million watches between 1933 and 1935. A Mickey watch was sealed in the NY World’s Fair time capsule in 1939. The watch I own is from 1934, identifiabke by the addition of “Made in the USA”, added to discourage counterfeiters.

Ingersoll also produced a pocket watch version in 1933. The original box was red like the wristwatch. The box I have is from a later model.

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Once the watches popularity was established, Ingersoll added a deluxe version manufactured from 1937-1942. I haven’t been able to determine the exact year my watch is from.

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In 1933 Disney released the Silly Symphony cartoon Three Little Pigs, which became an enormous success. Not only was the short Popular, with audiences coming to the theaters to see the Pigs, not necessarily the main features. The song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” sold records, sheet music and was easily on everyone’s lips. The watches sold by the thousands. The wolf’s eyes shift back and forth on the pocket watch version. A larger table alarm clock was produced in 1934 and sold for $1.39.

My collection moves ahead to the  what I believe is the 1950s with these two very different alarm clock styles from Bradley. One is a simple windup alarm clock. The other is more in the old whimsical Disney style with 2 bells.


This “Official Mouseketeer” watch is probably from the 1970s revival of the “New Mickey Mouse Club”.

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These two mantel clocks from the 1980s. One is a Mickey Mouse 60th Anniversary. The other plays 6 melodies. both are by Seiko.

These are some more recent pieces I bought, because I liked the way they looked and they were limited editions.

Finally, here’s a pendulum style clock that I’ve been unable to track down any information about. Could be someone’s hand made piece. There’s no markings on it and the character image is very well done.

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Starting with the Ingersoll watches, Disney timepieces were part of the overall merchandising genius of Herman “Kay” Kamen, the man Walt hired to manage character licensing. Ever watchful of the Disney brand, every licensed item had to be approved for quality by the Disney Company. By the time Snow White opened a complete merchandising campaign was ready to go on day one. It’s no secret that the licensing fees have always been a significant part of Disney company revenues. Thousands of watches and clocks have been produced over the years. So, a collector should be able to find something of interest with a price tag to match the budget.

Because there were and continue to be many different Disney character timepieces produced, it’s often hard to track down specific information, particularly on some of the older pieces. Part of the fun, is the detective work that’s required to specifically identify dates and manufacturers for any Disneyana item. If anyone has reliable information about the pieces I’ve included here, please let me know through a comment or email. Those of you who are hooked on collecting, like I am, happy hunting!

 

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A Mother’s Day Message

Since, I usually post on Sundays, and since, today happens to be the usual busy Mother’s Day, I’d like to revisit my very first post on this Blog, A Mother’s Gift, which I wrote shortly after my mother passed away and updated recently.  I wrote about how my mother’s interest in Disney and Disneyana influenced me. I didn’t always appreciate the gifts my late Mother bestowed upon me during her lifetime, including a love for all things Disney. I think trying to separate from your parents, particularly our mothers is part of the natural growing up process. Unlike much of the animal kingdom, our mothers don’t usually push us out of the nest or chase us away as we get older. Our moms are always there for us.

The effect of denying that my mother could offer me anything useful to learn didn’t become clear to me until after she was gone. My mother had taken my brother and I to many Disney movies while we were were growing up. She surrounded us with Disneyana in the house. I owe much of my treasured Disney collection to her hard work and appreciation of Walt’s work. In retrospect, now that I am caretaker of that

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Part of my Disneyana collection

collection and continue to add to it, I wish I had spent more time enjoying the items with her. There are some pieces that she must have found wonderfully interesting and exciting to own, but are now a mystery to me. She may have even owned some of them during her childhood. I’m not making the same mistake with my kids. I’ve created an annotated item inventory and I spend time to help my kids understand why the collection means so much to me. (see my post Hooked on Collecting)

Walt and Mrs. Disney Standing with Stuffed Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney and his mother, Flora

As with all son’s, Walt appears to have had a complex relationship with his mother. Based on the biographies I have read, it seems he trusted her. While he was in Paris at the end of World War I, he sent money home and she put some aside for him so his father wouldn’t find out. It was that nest egg that enabled Walt to start his first business. We’ll never know for sure how much his mother helped

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Walt in Paris, 1918

make Walt who he became. But, you can be certain, that whether he was aware of it or not, her voice, her advice and her support was in his head and heart.

My mother always supported me in all my ventures and adventures over the years. It may have taken some time to blossom, but her love of Walt Disney was definitely inside me somewhere. It’s lead to my growing collection and this Blog, as well as connection to a worldwide community of, creative and inspiring like-minded, Disney loving people. So, take this as a cautionary tale. Your mother may not always know best. She may not always be right. But she has a lot to offer, if you give her the chance. You never know what you might find in yourself someday. So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the deserving, unappreciated moms out there from all of us to whom you give so much.

I’d like to take advantage of the Disney community to which I referred. I was hoping that someone out there could help me identify these objects from my collection, which I have had no luck identifying. If you can help, please leave a comment or send me an email.

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A Mother’s Gift

This is my first Mother’s day without my mother and I was thinking about how much she influenced my respect for Walt Disney and love for his work. The first movie she took me to see was “The Sword in the Stone”. Other movies followed: “Mary Poppins”; “That Darn Cat”; “The Ugly Dachsund”; and “The Gnome-MobJungle Book DVDile”. The one that sticks with me most from my early childhood is “The Jungle Book”. My Grandfather was a songwriter in the 50’s and 60’s so hearing legendary singers like Phil Harris and Louis Prima in a movie made for kids mad a strong impression on me.

My mother made it easy to be open to many experiences and interests including theater, books, art and sports. But always in there somewhere was the influence of Walt Disney. It might be plates or napkins at a birthday party, a greeting card featuring Mickey or an image on some clothing. My mother was also a collector. She collected newspapers she never read, recordings of TV programs she never watched again, antiquarian books, which she built into a business and Disneyana. At some point, an entire room in our house was filled, floors, walls and ceiling with pre-1960s Disney collectibles. She and I would sit and look at things, discuss the artistic or historical value of one piece or another. We didn’t always agree and I didn’t always find the time or have the patience to talk as long as she would have liked, but we both enjoyed ourselves.

After I had moved out and started a family of my own, without saying anything, she began to sell off most of the collection, until all that is left isdisneyana book a couple of dozen pieces, autographs and photographs. It’s not clear whether the decision to sell was financial or that my brother, father and I didn’t show enough interest to convince her that it was worth keeping. It saddens me that something that became so integral to her life did not seem to be important to her in the last years of her life. As I looked though the pieces that were left, I couldn’t help remember many of the other collectibles that I had spent so much time looking at. I’m sad, not because there was value in the collectibles, but because it was a connection with me that no one else in our family shared with her.

I think my mother visited Disneyland once as a child, but she never went back and she never took my brother or I to any of the Disney Theme Parks. As I began to take my wife and family to Walt Disney World, I would ask if she would like to go with us. She would comment that it was just too commercial and about selling things. I didn’t understand it then, but I believe I have come to understand that for my Mother, it wasn’t about theme parks or animated movies. She, like me now as an adult, recognized the artistic genius of Walt Disney and the impact he has had, not just on animated movies, for which his legacy is firmly cemented, but for all the other ways he has changed the world. I’m not sure she realized what a special seed she planted. It’s a seed that has blossomed and thrived into my adulthood.  It’s a gift I treasure and don’t mind carrying with me.Mom

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