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Vintage Cartoon Buttons


Owning these 1930s cartoon character buttons is cool – but owning the original art for them is cooler!

Both are currently up for sale on ebay. Bosko’s Little Wilbur is here. Oswald’s girl friend Kitty is here. May the best man (or woman) win!

(Thanks, Dewey McGuire)

  • Keith Paynter

    Da-yum! How cool is that!?! Beats the hell out of those freaky vintage Halloween costumes you posted last year!

  • Would etchings been made based on these drawings by the printers, because obviously the original artwork isn’t represented perfectly on the pins? I think the shoddy wobbliness of the pin lines is more endearing than the clean mockups.

  • Zep

    “little Wilbur” is a dead ringer for Beans the cat, also in LT. I wonder if they’re one & the same?

  • Zep, Wilbur isn’t the same as Beans, but he is an enduring type that Harman and Ising used for a long time.

    He first appears nameless in some Disney Oswald shorts on which the pair worked, notably ALL WET and EMPTY SOCKS. He goes on to appear in H-I’s Winkler Oswald cartoons; as the title character of HOMELESS HOMER, and seemingly in SAUCY SAUSAGES as well (if one goes by the copyright synopsis and presumes the visual model is the same).
    After Harman and Ising leave Universal, Lantz continued the character with Oswald under another name, Pussy Willie (in the cartoon of that title and again in THE FIREMAN). Once Harman and Ising begin using him as Wilbur, however, Lantz drops him.
    In all cases he looks more or less exactly as he does on that pinback button—and is always played as an extremely needy, bratty, grumpy little kid. “I want an ice cream cone!”

  • Tom Bertino

    I can shed some light on why the button shown and the art don’t exactly match up. There were actually three series of these buttons: a small and a large size in black/white/red, and a large size only in black/white/red/yellow, as pictured. The b/w/r versions (presumably the original run?) had art actually done by the studio artists. I owned a few of these drawings myself back in the day, and they’re great. Look just like the onscreen characters; solid as a dollar. Then for some reason all the b/w/r/y buttons appear to be somewhat imperfect redrawings of the original studio poses. Nobody’s ever figured out why the different series, or why the one series is redrawn…why didn’t they just reuse the original art? They can’t have been made that far apart, timewise…they first appeared in 1931, and all the characters in the series would have outlived their shelf life by 1933. The button shown looks great until you see the original art of the studio pose next to it. Then it suddenly looks like some hopeful’s “Draw Wilbur!” exercise. Not that anybody but Jerry cares, anyway! 8-)