Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peter and the popular media

I don't remember a time when there weren't merchandise tie-ins--sometimes when I was growing up it seemed like every cartoon character appeared on a juice glass or in a Happy Meal--but I didn't realize how far back the practice went till I found this edition of Peter Pan released in conjunction with the 1924 silent film. It's printed with the 1911 copyright date of the original book, but as the movie was released in 1924, I suspect that may not be accurate. It does make it harder to track down a copy of the book, however.

Now with bonus Siamese! Owen says hi.

Let's try that again.

The book has eight illustrated plates from the film. Only one includes Captain Hook, though, you may as well know.

This Bonnie Television Book from 1953 isn't strictly a tie-in, although this line of books was no doubt printed to cash in on the new fad of television. The books originally came with a wheel mounted behind the cover that could be turned, in the manner of a pop-up book, to provide an illusion of a black and white TV show, as you can see below. Mine doesn't have the wheel, as I bought it for the art inside rather than spending three times as much for an intact copy.

In the middle of the book is a mystery:

This is Wendy, in the yellow nightgown she's wearing throughout the story. But there is not a cookie-baking scene in this book or any other interpretation I've found, or the play, or any of the movies that I can remember. Not in the beginning of the story, or in a game of imagination in Neverland. It seems like it must be an advertisement, but for what, I can't tell. Perhaps the secret lies in the missing cover feature, although given what I see of the "television" pictures in the image above, I am unconvinced. For now, I remain baffled.


  1. Yeah, I was surprised to find a copy of Sabatini's The Sea Hawk which includes plates from the silent film version of 1924 ("Illustrated with scenes from the photoplay, a First National Picture, produced by Frank Lloyd Productions, Inc."). I wonder if this was done before then, or if 1924 was the year marketing tie-ins were invented.

  2. Preliminary research gives me nothing at all. I know there were radio tie-ins-"five box tops for a super decoder ring"!--and before that there were "send in four soap wrappers to get a toy"- type promos in newspapers, but I have no idea when the first instance occurred. The limits of internet research strike again.

  3. According to this thread on a forum, it might be 1920/1921, with the release of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. So, only three or four years before the books we found.