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Saturday, 12 May 2018

My 1930s American Mickey

1930s Mickey soft toy American.

In celebration of Mickey's 90th Birthday this year I thought I would post some blogs about my love of 1920s and 30s Mickey Mouse. My admiration of the  'Mouse Heaven' collection of Mel Birkrant led me to fall in love with the style of the original American Mickeys and so when I saw one on Ebay last December I thought he would be a fantastic Christmas project. He was definitely not in the best condition, he had lost stuffing from around his nose and had been patched under his nose with sticking plasters. He had also lost his little shoes and gloves. However, for about £12 plus a similar amount of postage from the USA I thought he was irresistible.

My American 1930s Mickey

There were a number of different Mickey dolls released under license in the very early years. I have researched online and can tell he was not made by the Knickerbocker company but with his original velvet shorts and mother of pearl buttons it is possible that he was factory made. My best guess so far comes from this article by Guy Hickey which pictures a doll that looks the same with the following description-

By George Borgfeldt (USA) in 1932, is the second in a series of Three dolls produced by Borgfeldt/Nifty Toys. Mickey stands approximately 12″ tall, features Yellow Felt Hands, Red Cloth Pants and a Black Cloth Body – complete with Mother of Pearl Buttons and printed Facial Features. 

 I managed to get a copy of the original McCalls pattern and use this as basis for making a new set of felt gloves and new shoes for my Mickey. This pattern was released under license from the Walt Disney Company because the factories were simply unable to keep up with demand. The pattern meant that anyone could make their child a doll of their own and the high quality of the dolls which have survived are testament to the fantastic sewing skills of those who made these home made Mickeys.

McColls Pattern for 1930s Mickey

 Happily I found felt of the right colour felt in the kids' craft cupboard and some calico for his nose in my own sewing kit so I had no need to buy anything extra in order to fix him up. I carefully removed the sticking plaster from under his nose and re-stuffed his pointy nose. I then used tea soaked calico fabric to patch him up more sympathetically, this has gradually continued to darken and blend in with his original colouring.

Repairing my American 1930s Mickey

My American 1930s Mickey doll

My American Mickey stands on top of the piano displayed in a large lantern alongside his equally old but much smaller English rat-faced companion- my Deans Rag Book Company Mickey, the first Mickey doll to be released in the UK. Despite being around 90 years old my American Mickey now looks complete and content once again with his new shoes and gloves, I hope to be able to preserve him for much longer, he's absolutely stunning.

My American 1930s Mickey and English Deans Rag Book Mickey

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