Sunday, May 21, 2023

Little Nipper Junior Series Alice in Wonderland from 1953

Y-485 Alice in Wonderland

Likely issued in 1953, this 78 RPM entry in RCA Victor’s Little Nipper Junior series features a vivid yellow cover with new art of Alice and the dancing Tweedles.  Featuring Kathryn Beaumont and Ed Wynn from the original cast, this is an abridged single disc version of the standard Little Nipper storyteller.

EYA-46 Alice in Wonderland

The 45 RPM EP of the Junior series record above is actually the B side of a similar Peter Pan record, hence the 1953 release date.  Surprisingly the cardboard sleeve prints the Alice art on the back which makes this particular record much easier to identify.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Columbia Record Featuring Rosemary Clooney

Rosemary Clooney recorded this record of four songs with the Percy Faith Orchestra for release on the Columbia label in both 78 RPM (MJV-112) and 45 RPM (MJV 4-112) formats.  The cover art is unique to this release, and is more reminiscent of Tenniel than Disney.  Although even that is a stretch.  Best to say it is unique.

I do like the fact that the 45 RPM sleeve has a hole in the middle just like a plain sleeve.

Mayfair Record Featuring June Winters "The Lady in Blue"

The Lady in Blue, a character popularized by singer June Winters, released a number of children’s records beginning in 1947, with the Alice in Wonderland title Songs from Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland being released in 1951.

Issue in both 78 RPM (K-128) and 45 RPM (K-128-45) formats, the record includes the songs Alice in Wonderland, I’m Late, All in a Golden Afternoon, and The Unbirthday Song.  The paper sleeve features art inspired by the original John Tenniel illustrations; the art on the 78 RPM label  features Alice, but not based on Tenniel.  The 45 RPM label is just a standard 45 RPM label with no art at all.  Based on this one might assume that the 78 was more targeted at the children's market whereas the newer 45 format more at the adult market.  But who can say for sure.

Founded in 1946 by June Winters and her husband Hugo Peretti, Mayfair Records specialized in children’s records featuring “The Lady in Blue,” June Winter’s character made famous throughout the late 1940s and 1950s.  By 1949 The Lady in Blue's popularity had increased dramatically, with her own fan club, comic strip, and numerous appearance on radio and television.  By 1951 The Lady in Blue radio show was airing nationwide on NBC Radio.

Mayfair was acquired by Roulette Records in 1957, with Hugo Peretti staying on as head of the children’s record division.  The Lady in Blue continued to release records on the Roulette label until June Winters retired in the 1960s.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Whitman Punchout Book

The Punchout Book is a sort of combination book and toy, with eight large heavy board pages filled with figures and objects to punchout ('natch).  

Each page also contains a drawing of the completed scene.  A total of five scenes can be made with the punchouts, although some of the characters appear in multiple scenes.

Surprisingly it is uncommon to find partial books.  Presumably if someone started punching out the figures, they just kept going.  Individual figures and sets are sometimes found and it is fun to put them together.

This copy is a Western file copy.

Whitman Sticker Fun

As mentioned on the cover, the Sticker Fun is a stencil and coloring book - with a twist.  The interior of the book is designed as a coloring book, with lots of line drawings of scenes from the film to color.  But interspersed with the coloring pages are full pages of gummed stickers to cut out and apply to some of the scenes.  At the front and back of the book are full pages of bright orange stencils to punch out and use to make your own pages to color.

Given that the purpose of the book was to cut out and use both the stickers and the stencils, finding complete copies is very difficult.  Add to that the tendency of complete sticker pages to adhere to the coloring page behind it makes it doubly difficult to find.  If a copy is found with intact and uncut stickers, it is advised to place a sheet of wax paper between the sticker page and the coloring page to prevent them from sticking together.

This copy is a Western file copy.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Whitman Paint Book

Stock #2167-25, this copy is a Western file copy.  While this is called a paint book, today we would call this a coloring book.  I guess children in the 1950s used watercolors more than crayons.  
When I began collecting, this book was pretty much ever-present; you would find these at nearly every show and it seemed copies were quite plentiful.  The reason for this became clear when I found a complete copy of the 1974 campaign book offering these as part of the merchandise for the 1974 release.  

Western must have printed a boatload of these in 1951 to have them still available 23 years later.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Oak Rubber Company Oak-Hytex Balloons

Below is an except from the forthcoming book.


The Oak Rubber Company was one of the largest manufacturers of balloons for nearly 80 years, and a Disney licensee for 33 of those years.

Oak Rubber Company was founded by Paul Colette and John Shira in Akron, OH in 1916, but moved to Ravenna, OH the following year, which was already a rubber manufacturing center in Ohio.  The company started out, as most companies do, with a handful of employees, but grew quickly; this forced the company to expand into new and larger buildings in Ravenna.  But, on March 15, 1920, a fire completely destroyed their factory  as well as several other properties and many feared the company was finished.

Happily, the company reopened in November 1920 with a full complement of 125 workers, and immediately began to produce up to 150,000 balloons per day.  By 1921 company sales were over $1 million dollars, and by 1923 was the second-largest producer of rubber balloons in the country.

Initially producing only pure rubber balloons, in the 1930s they launched the “Oak-Hytex” line, which employed a new process using liquid latex (rubber tree “milk”) for making balloons.  The Hytex line became the predominant brand for all but the most specialized balloons.  Incidentally, Oak-Hytex was also the sole supplier of balloon “bubbles” for Sally Rand’s infamous “Bubble Dance” made famous at the 1934 season of the Chicago World’s Fair.  

The company continued to make balloons and other rubber products until the company closed in 1993.

The Oak Rubber Company received their Disney license in 1934 and held it for 34 years with a small break during WWII.  The company made a wide range of “toy balloons” featuring many Disney characters from the shorts and feature films.  Perhaps their most iconic creation was the Mickey Mouse “head” balloon which they introduced in the mid-to-late 1930s, a balloon that, while no longer produced by Oak Rubber, is still sold in the Disney theme parks today.

The balloons were sold in a variety of styles and packages including counter-top boxes and illustrated card sets.  All the various types of packaging were imprinted with their distinctive yellow and black logo.

The Alice in Wonderland line of toy balloons was released at the time of the film’s original run in 1951 (along with those sold by the Eagle Rubber Company oddly enough).  Prices for individual balloons ranged from $0.05 to $0.25 each, corresponding to $0.52 to $2.61 in today’s dollars.


While the balloons themselves are unlikely to exist in anything other than very poor shape, a wide variety of styles, sizes, and sets were sold.  Notice the advertising photos featuring several characters in the ‘head’ style like the famous Mickey balloon.

Display Packaging

Even though most, if not all, of the balloons have not survived, any display cards, boxes, or other packaging may still exist, but I have as yet been unable to locate any.