Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kindergarten Shoes Revisited

This past weekend I attended the first local large antique show of the season - as I've mentioned in the past, I've found these to be good sources for Oz-related items. In one of those strange little coincidences that happen, I ran across a boxed pair of Kindergarten Shoes! I was not aware of these shoes or the postcards connected to them before they were brought to my attention in an earlier posting.

This particular box uses what I will call the "adaptation" of Denslow's Baa Baa Black Sheep. There is the same "F. F." signature under the verse, and in this case the sheep appears to be a pretty direct copy of the Denslow animal. The boy, while in the same pose, has been completely turned to face away from the viewer. The more I view these, the more I'm convinced Denslow was not involved in their creation. The lack of any signature, or attribution to Denslow makes it very unlikely - he doesn't strike me as one to let a chance for self-promotion slip by.

According to the top of the box, "seven designs, of which this is one, in postecard (sic) style, will be mailed, upon receipt of 2 two-cent postage stamps. Smith-Wallace Shoe Co., Chicago". I find it interesting that seven cards were done, rather than six or eight. I tend to think of sets in even numbers.

I've posted the original W. W. Denslow image from Denslow's Mother Goose below for comparison.


Bill Campbell said...

I think this was left under the previous entry by mistake - so I'm posting it here! Bill

David Maxine said...

Those shoes in a show box are an extremely neat find!

It is clearly NOT Denslow drawn art - but I also feel sure that it was an official license. IMHO, the Kindergarten Shoe publicity campaign just seems too wide-spread to be "pirated". Denslow would have found out - and he was at the height of his wealth and fame at this point.

This kind of "official" adaptation of artwork happened and still happens all the time.

Great Shoes!

Bill Campbell said...

I agree that the ad campaign seems pretty bold to try without Denslow's approval - but I just can't see him allowing something so close to him to be used in this way without credit. The Mother Goose plates clearly state that they're from Denslow's Mother Goose. Of course, I also don't know exactly when these shoes are from. Denslow died in 1915, could these have been produced after his death? That would make a lot more sense to me. If anyone has a postmarked card, it would be interesting to know the year. It's all another one of those little mysteries.

AV said...

That box IS a great find--I never knew they existed! Did you notice that the shoes look a little like the ones the boy is wearing in the image? Now that I look at the 4 postcards I have, the shoes look quite different from the ones Denslow drew in his images. For ex, the Queen of Hearts is wearing a pair that looks a lot like the ones worn by the sheep boy. The Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe's shoes look a little like Denslow's, but the shoe she lives in looks a lot like a Kindergarten shoe...this gets more fun all the time!

The one Kindergarten postcard that is postmarked is dated 1907. The ones I have from Teddy Bear Bread (signed) are from 1909, and the ones from the Thanksgiving Humor series (signed) are from 1910...

Bill Campbell said...

Well, that smashes my theory of the cards being produced after Denslow's death!

Jane Albright said...

Once when Micheal Patrick Hearn was visiting me, a Kindergarten Shoe postcard showed up on eBay attributed to Denslow and referencing the Hearn/Green Denslow biography to substantiate that it was Denslow's work. Mike told me that had been a point of contention between the co-authors as he was certain they were not Denslow's work.

Meanwhile, I spotted one of these boxes at an antique show years ago, although the shoes were long gone. I bought it because it was so puzzlingly similar. But I have to agree that it's not the real McCoy. Jane Albright

Bill Campbell said...

Out of curiosity, which rhyme was pictured on your shoe box? I'm assuming they were done with different verses.