THE FUNNY FOLKS
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All Photographs and Copy are Coryright MEL BIRNKRANT
Some of the imagery is Copyright The Walt Disney Company
Greetings from
THE MEL BIRNKRANT COLLECTION
A Guided Tour of
 
 
 
          The Wall in The Great Hall is clearly the domain of Mickey Mouse.  But Felix, Popeye, and Betty Boop, were granted prime real estate there as well.  So it was fitting that there should be, at least, one grand and glorious showcase, dedicated to the earliest Comic Characters, those who began it all.  Thus, many of the early Funny Folks who were not windups, wound up in this one case.  It was soon full!

         
The Yellow Kid is at the pinnacle.  The tower that he sits atop is yellow.  That is fitting, as he was the founder of them all.  Only my astute friend Noel picked up on this. There is a little bit of everybody here, anybody who was anybody that is, anybody popular enough to find themselves manifest as toys, dolls or figurines.
          Just because it should be done, I’ll identify some of the above: Hanging from the ceiling, are Foxy Grandpa and Happy Hooligan.  Happy has a policeman by the ears.   

         
On the walls, are the 6 known Comic Character varieties of the beautiful Raphael Tuck jumping jack valentines.  First are Little Nemo and Flip from Slumberland.  Then, on the back wall, are Happy Hooligan and Buster Brown, who is hard to find with his fragile paint brush intact.  And lower down, are Mama Katzenjammer, elevating Hans and Fritz, and Foxy Grandpa with his two grandsons.

         
On top of the tower, of course, is The yellow kid.  Just below him. are jointed dolls of  Maggie and Jiggs.  Like many of the figures in this showcase, they were made by the Swiss company Bucherer, and are fully poseable with intricate metal ball and socket joints.  In the middle, is Foxy Grandpa, with  his grandkids, Harry, Dick, and a bunny, between his legs.

         
On the next level down, starting on the left, is a composition doll of Foxy.  Then, at the back, is a Bucherer Happy Hooligan.  This is a rare doll. His clothes are a bit tattered, but, after all, he is a hobo!  Happy, riding a rabbit, is a candy container.  In front of him, is a Bucherer doll of Fritz.  Hans, Mama and der Captain Katzenjammer follow.  Then, there is Happy Hooligan on a bunny again.  This complex candy container is in amazing condition; Happy's original woven basket and paper parasol are there.  He is completely hiding a lovely Bucherer doll of Harrison Cady’s Peter Rabbit.

        
Moving down, the shelves get longer.  In the corner, is a doll of Mickey McGuire, animated by air pressure, and a tiny spring toy of Fritz.   Next, on the left, is a bisque vase, depicting Jackie Cooper, and an air activated toy of Buttercup.  There are two bisque Buttercups on the same shelf. They are additional  figures from the Nodder series.   Here, too, are four Bucherer dolls of characters from Regular Fellers:  Pinhead,  Puddinhead, Jimmy and Aggie, with Maud the Mule, bursting out of an egg, in the middle.  On the right, is Foxy riding a “Bunny” bunny.  And behind him is Buster Brown, riding Tige, and an animated Buster Brown toy in the corner.

         
On the bottom are several Real nodders. I mean they were really designed to nod.  Their heads rock back and forth, on purpose.  The first is "Sy", Maud’s master, then, Hans and Fritz and the Captain.  The captain’s spanking arm is poseable.  Then, there is a Mama and the Katzenjammer Kids candy container, followed by another one of her, holding a spanking switch.   Beating the butts of Hans and Fritz played a big role in this strip.  And last of all, is Foxy Grandpa, riding on an Easter bunny.
          Poor Peter Rabbit, He got covered up in the photo, above.  I just realized that I have another one, upstairs, along with a fabulous Peter Rabbit doll from 1912.  I had forgotten all about them, as they are hidden behind my computer.  I guess I might as well include them here, as I haven’t  made any plans to include them, elsewhere.  This large doll, by the way, is made by the same company and in the same style as a known series of rare Little Nemo Dolls. The smaller Peter Rabbit is by Bucherer.



         
Oh my God!  I just realized that I left a whole section out.  I didn’t allow a logical place to include it.  That place will now be here.  So, let’s continue to another showcase upstairs that contains a mixed selection, not especially attractively arranged, of the early funny paper characters.
          On the back wall, is a rare unpunched premium sheet of Funny Paper Puppets.  Then a pair of Kayo suspenders, with an animated, hat tipping, display card.  Below that, is a jointed cardboard figure of Ed Wynn as “The Fire Chief.”  Then, wood jointed figures of Moon and Kayo, and behind them, a jointed generic “Mouse”!  Part of the set, because they couldn’t get Mickey.  Then, an oilcloth doll of Smitty, a very rare Sparkplug sand pail, and, in the corner, a nearly disjointed wood doll of Joe Palooka, who looks like he’s been dazed.  In the background is the introductory set of the  first 12 Comic Nodders circa 1928.  We will, soon, see them better.

       
Now, we’ll move on to Mutt and Jeff.  No collection of early comic Characters could be complete, without them. This is going to be another project involving extra photography, filling in the photo gaps, because a little bit of Mutt and Jeff is scattered everywhere.
          In the middle of the case is a stunning, and stunningly rare, bisque figurine of Moon Mullins and Kayo, made, of course, in Germany.  I have never been able to look at this without thinking how great it is, and also wondering what other figures there might have been in the same series.  One Guess would be Winnie Winkle and Perry Winkle.  On the lower left is a delicate German bisque ashtray of that coupling, and the matching ashtray, on the right, from the same series.  It shows Moon and kayo in the same pose as the large figure above.  Here too, are a pair of pairs of Moon and Kayo bath salts containers.  These were also made in Germany, most likely, by the same company as the ashtrays; the excellent quality of the sculpture is the same.
         Stepping back to get a better look at the whole case, and, beginning on the left, is the Playstone  Funnies “Kasting Kit”.  This set could be expanded endlessly by purchasing additional rubber molds to use in kasting  plaster effigies of all one’s favorite Komic Karacters.  In front of that, is a bisque figure from the Nodder universe. It is a medium sized Snowflake, by Oscar Hitt (again).  Next to him, a German Mickey McGuire calendar.  One must change the paper numbers on the lamppost, every day.  On either side of them, and just behind, are a pair of heavy cardboard jointed figures of Moon and Kayo.  And, in-between, is the Skipper and the Toonerville Trolley as a toothbrush holder.  This is Japanese bisque.  Moving along, is a cast iron Toonerville Trolley, and one cast in pot metal, as well as the original box for the cast iron toy.  Out in front, is a German bisque of Perry Winkle, also related to the Nodders. He has a moveable hat.