Sunday, June 22, 2014

301. Switch It While You Work: SNOW WHITE CHALKWARE LAMP

Walt Disney took moviedom by storm when it screened it screened its first animated feature, "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs"  in 1937. Based on the fairy tale character, Snow White became a worldwide sensation and it popularized such songs as "When You Wish Upon a Star", "Someday, my Prince Will Come" and "Whistle While You Work". Snow White was the first of the so-called Disney Princess and is the only animated figure that has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Immediately, licensed merchandise were made of the characters, especially the 7 Dwarfs--Grumpy, Happy, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey and Sleepy. Snow White too, was immortalized in the form of dolls, gameboards, coloring books, figurines--and one of the earliest is this lamp base. La Mode Studios of New York was licensed to create these lamps made of painted plaster, in 1938. molded in the shape o Snow White. The drwafs too were cast as lamp bases, but the Snow White lamp--with a matching lampshade--remains a favorite. This particular lamp base however is very different from what La Mode created, so I assume this was from a different, unlicensed manufacturer, riding on the crest of the popularity of the cartoon. It bears no copyright date, but is incised with the Walt Disney name.
I found Snow White many years ago in Chatuchak market in Bangkok. Far from having a flawless fair complexion, she has a tan, almost like a morena Filipina. My Snow White came with a glass shade that does not really fit, which I believe to be a replacement. I am sure it can be rewired and restored (I actually repainted the scruffs on her body), and someday...her switch will come.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Now here's an ingenious battery-run mechanical toy I've had for years. It's one of my first tin toy actually, bought from a store in Binondo with many old stocks. It shows a charming little bear made from fluffy fabric with a book on its lap. When switched on, one paw--which has a hidden magnet--stamps a metal page of the book, and then flips it over--just like he is reading the book. The book pages have incredible details, showing story titles like "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse". There are no marks on this late 50s-early 60s toy, but it looks Japan-made. The fur fabric has started to fall-off and I am resigned to the fact that it will soon deteriorate--but I intend to keep this toy for awhile even in this state, at least for display. For where on else can still one see a bear that reads?