Wealth Of Memorabilia Available For
Easter Bunny Collector
Far and away the most popular subject of Easter collectibles is the Easter rabbit (or Easter bunny, if you prefer.) In the United States, he is known to have been a part of Easter celebrations as far back as the late 1600s. Children of the early Pennsylvania German settlers would leave their bonnets o caps on their doorsteps the night before Easter, hoping the Easter rabbit would fill them with eggs overnight.
Easter bunnies come in a lot of different forms. One popular type for collectors is the candy container. The earliest rabbit candy containers were made of papier mache, by the Germans, in the 1850s. They could be found in either sitting or upright positions.
Flocked cardboard rabbit candy containers were being imported from Germany in large quantities by 1900. The better ones had blown glass eyes. The simulated fur on these rabbits was usually a cotton batting.
By the 1920s - 1930s, rabbit candy containers were also available in glass, celluloid, tin (either brightly painted or covered with a bright lithograph,) and pressed pasteboard. Later yet, and up tot he present, they can be found in plastic.
Easter rabbits also frequently took an edible form. Chocolate rabbits, ranging from two inches to three feet in length, were available beginning in t he late 19th century. Collectors can watch for tin and pewter chocolate molds. Also available are old ice cream molds and tin cookie cutters in rabbit shapes.
Paper memorabilia also make good additions to a collection of Easter rabbits. Easter greetings on postcards were popular in the early 20th century. And a nice old copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit should be in every collection of rabbits.
Toys with Easter rabbits are a lot of fun. Some of the best are the wheeled tin lithographed ones made in Germany in the late 1800s. The best known German manufacturer was Ernest Paul Lehmann; an E.P.L. logo on Easter toys is the mark of his company. In the early 20th century, Louis Marx & Company and the Baldwin Manufacturing Company made mechanical Easter toys in this country. Their pieces should be marked. Since the 1950s, most mechanical toys featuring the Easter bunny have been imported from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and, of course, China most recently.
Other toys include pull toys of wood, metal and papier mache. There are also a few games available, such as a version of bowling, which uses stand-up rabbits as the pins.
Stuffed rabbits have probably been made by every maker of stuffed animals, from Steiff and Knickerbocker to the more recent Annalee versions. There are also homemade ones, cut from pre-printed fabric.
Among the other forms in which the collector can find the Easter bunny are banks of flocked cardboard, cast iron or plastic; figurines in chalk, wood or fine porcelain; and even cast iron doorstops.
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