Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leonardi Plaster Wall Heads

One of the most misunderstood of the vintage Disney figures are those produced by Leonardi. Often mistaken for Italian, these are in fact English. The confusion probably stems from the fact that the name Leonardi sounds Italian.  To further add to the confusion, Leonardi and Zaccagnini both produced a series of Donald golfer figures that used the same model, as well as a few others.
Leonardi produced figures in the 1940s and 1950s. These figures were of a plaster or chalkware like material. The most famous of the figures are probably the Snow White set and the aforementioned Donald. But they made Alice figures too. Ok, well they are not really figures, but wall plaques of a character's head, much like the set made by Cuernavaca of Mexico. I first became aware of the Leonardi heads when I was leafing through a copy of Mickey Mouse weekly from August 18th, 1951.  There is an article by Kathryn Beaumont describing her time at Disney playing Alice.  Pretty standard press stuff, but the photo was truly bizarre, showing Kathy sitting on a couch with the Big Golden Book at her feet, and herself and the couch covered in these bizarre character heads.  I had no idea what they were. I later came across a photo of Walt from an English children's annual holding what looks like the head to an animators model of the March Hare,
 but upon close inspection realized it was the same as the head in the MMW photo.
At last a few years ago I acquired this head of Alice.  It is identical to the one Kathy is holding in her left hand in the MMW photo,
and best of all, it is marked on the back.
A few years later I acquired this Mad Hatter.  It is similar to the one pictured above, but smaller and the mirror image, looks like they made two sizes (groan).
And last month, I acquired this Carpenter.  He is not pictured (groan again), that must mean there is also a Walrus, and who knows what else!
So I'm guessing the characters in the Leonardi set to be:
  • Alice
  • White Rabbit
  • Mad Hatter
  • March Hare
  • King of Hearts
  • Queen of Hearts
  • Cheshire Cat
  • Carpenter
  • Walrus
There may be Tweedles too, but until I see a catalog or find them in the flesh (or chalk), I'm sticking with this list.


Anonymous said...

I love the carpenter! The Dumbo in the advertisement is the same as the one amde in Australia by MCP

Major Pepperidge said...

Please drill holes in the mouths of those heads so that a piece of string can stick out of them. Then send pictures! ;-)

Those are great; I honestly could not have imagined that there was so much Alice stuff, particularly the foreign items.

Matt said...

@scream4noreason - indeed, and the same model was made by Zaccagnini in Italy as well. Leonardi, MCP and Zaccagnini seemed to have used many of the same models.

@Major - you have no idea. I've barely scratched the surface. And just think about this: Alice was a less than popular film, imagine what amount of stuff was made for Snow White!

A Snow White Sanctum said...

Hey nice post. I hadn't heard of the Snow White or any of these before. Now I have my research to do.

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