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Ron & Donna Miller - Publishers

Who Doesn’t Love This 80-Year-Old Duck

This Donald Duck figurine was made by Evan Shaw’s American Pottery in the early 1940s.

Donald Duck is 80 years old this year. And we have to say, he doesn’t look a day older than he did the day he was “born.”

Donald (whose full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck) made his first appearance on June 9, 1934, in The Wise Little Hen, one of the series of cartoons called Silly Symphonies. His popularity was immediate, and for many years he even surpassed Mickey Mouse as a favorite character.

And almost immediately, he appeared in or on all types of Disney merchandise. That means collectors have 80 years worth of Donald Duck memorabilia they can look for.

Donald’s girlfriend, Daisy Duck, is three years younger - she didn’t appear until 1937, in a cartoon called Don Donald. She also had a name change in 1940, when her original name of Donna Duck was changed to Daisy Duck in Mr. Duck Steps Out.

And Huey, Louie and Dewey, Donald’s nephews, were introduced in 1938 in, appropriately, Donald’s Nephews.

All of the Duck characters can be found on Disney merchandise, although not to the extent that one finds Donald.

So - if you’re in a mind to start singing - this is the time to sing Happy Birthday to the world’s favorite duck.

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No ‘Old Tired Water’ Available Here

This Revigator was made by the Radium Ore Revigator Co. of  San Francisco and patented in 1912. Thousands were sold in the 1920s and 1930s.  It is on display (in an approved and safe way) at the Ironstone Heritage Museum & Winery in Murphys, California.

One of the health fads promoted in the early 20th century was that radiated drinking water was good for one’s health, curing everything from cancer to impotence to senility, and a wide range of aches and pains in between.

To promote this good-health belief, the Revigator was invented by an invalid in California named R.W. Thomas. He patented it in 1912 and it was produced by the Radium Ore Revigator Co. Made from a clay which contained radium, Americans were encouraged to fill this ceramic crock with water and from it drink six or more  glasses of water a day. The water in the Revigator was also to be used for gargling and brushing the teeth.

As part of the advertising for their product, the company claimed that the public was used to drinking “tired, wilted, denatured water” and this irradiated water would restore the “vigor gas and vigor element, just as necessary as the hydrogen and oxygen in the water.”

Instructions that accompanied the Revigator pictured here included the direction to scrub it with a stiff brush each month to assure a continuous release of radium into the water.

A modern analysis of the Revigator indicates that the actual release of radium from the crock was quite low, with not too much health risk – and presumably not much in the way of health benefits either.

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Black Cats Not Always A Bad Symbol

The Black Cat Hosiery Company was one of the most prolific advertisers of the early 20th century that used the black cat as a symbol. This 3-dimensional trademark, 22 inches tall, could be used in a store window, on a countertop, or hung on the wall. He’s made of lithographed cardboard, and would certainly be a focal piece of any black cat collection.

Pictured in The Black Cat Made Me Buy It.

Black cats are one of the symbols often associated with Halloween, especially as a companion to witches. They’ve also been a popular advertising motif over the years. In most cases, the cat had nothing to do with the product - he was simply an eye-catching emblem. The companies obviously didn’t subscribe to the superstion that a black cat brings bad luck.

Among the companies that used black cats in their advertising were the F.H. Thomas Co., which made inks and household paste from 1885 to 1931; the Imperial Cigar Co., which sold a brand of cigars called Night Clerk; the James Van Dyk Co., which sold coffee and tea around 1900; the Ipswich Mills, which made hosiery until it went out of business in the 1920s; and the A.S. Boyle Co., which made floor cleaning products.

An entertaining book published by Crown Publishing in 1988, called The Black Cat Made Me Buy It, was written by Alice Muncaster & Ellen Sawyer and pictures the advertising examples of the above companies and many more.

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