Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Great Goebel Posting - Introduction

After much persuasion by my daughter, and a recent acquisition (yay!), I have decided to post the Disney Alice Goebels. I hope I don't bore too many of you.

In the 1950s Disney had a contract with German porcelain maker Goebel (of Hummel fame), and they produced a series of over 200 figures based on Disney characters. The series based on the Alice in Wonderland characters was extensive, with more than 20 separate figures including decanters, nodders and ashtrays.

Goebels. The name has almost mystical significance in the Disneyana world. Highly prized, difficult to find under the best of circumstances, these German figures are some of the most elusive items in the world of Disneyana.

For years the only reference on the Goebels was the fantastic set of Tomart books. Sections on the Goebels appeared in Volume 2 and Condensed Edition. In those books Tom Tumbusch listed the figures by their item number as received from Goebel. The problem was that the list was in German, and some errors in translation undoubtedly occurred. Add to this the fact that due to the language barrier or perhaps just lack of knowledge of the characters, several of the named character labels are wrong. I have seen Bruno mislabeled as Pluto, Honest John mislabeled as Brer Fox, and Tuffy the Orphan Kitten mislabeled as Figaro to name a few.

In 2002 a great book was published in Germany that listed all the figures AND had a few color photographs and reproductions of several original catalog pages that showed the various figures identified by their stock numbers - including ALL the Alice figures! This book can be ordered from amazon.de

All Disney figures have numbers beginning with DIS followed by a number. There are 26 in the Alice in Wonderland series, beginning with DIS 58 and ending with DIS 110 (with obviously a few non-Alice in between). There were two 'series' (for lack of a better word), the first released in 1951, the second in 1952. The first series consisted of 10 figures and 2 nodders. The second series consisted of 7 figures, 2 nodders, 4 ashtrays, and 1 decanter set.

One thing the German book revealed was that there was a typo in the original TOMART list: DIS 106 was incorrectly identified as an ashtray based on DIS 68 - which is not possible since DIS 68 is a wall pocket. DIS 106 is really an ashtray based on figure DIS 63 - the Walrus from the Alice in Wonderland set.

According to TOMART the Disney Goebels were only sold in the US for a short time in the 1950s. I have seen Goebel figures with Disneyland prices tags and Emporium labels, so they must have been sold at least into 1955. It is unclear exactly how many of the Goebels were actually sold in the US, and based on some of the named labels many were only available in Germany.

Over the next several days I will be posting photos of the majority of the Alice set. Enjoy.

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