Once upon a time in a far away and mystical land called America-some
of you may have heard of it-there lived a writer by the name of
Florence Pretz and she had a dream. And in the dream she dreamt a
mysterious figure and she gave the figure a name she gleaned from a
poem she had read written by a poet named Bliss Carman and the name
of the poem was “Mr. Moon: A Song Of The Little People” and the name
she gleaned from Mr. Carman’s poem was Billiken.
Ms. Pretz was an art teacher and an illustrator who lived in a remote
hamlet called Kansas City in the county of Missouri. And from her
dream she created a charm doll and gave the doll the name of
Billiken. And Ms. Pretz was also pretty smart. And she got herself a
design patent on the ornamental design of Billiken which she then
sold to the Billiken Company of Chicago. Don’t ask me how they got
Billiken had pointed ears and a mischievous grin and a tuft of hair
on his pointy head. And it was and probably still is known far and
wide that to own a Billiken charm would bring the owner luck.
Personally. I could use a handful of these guys. The truth of it is I
would make myself one if it weren’t for the fact that I’d be a tad
concerned about copyright infringement. especially when I take into
consideration that it is said there are more practicing attorney in
the U. S. of A. than there are collectively in the rest of the entire
world. I’ll tell you this. there must be quite a few somebodys out
there who are suing the hell out of quite a few other somebodys in
this country. otherwise those lawyers would be in trouble.
And so as the fame of Billiken grew. he became more desirable. Today,
the Billiken is the official mascot of Saint Louis University and St.
Louis University High School. He is the “no worry” icon of the
He appeared–as a good luck charm–multiple times with Vivien Leigh
and Robert Taylor in a movie called “Waterloo Bridge”. And then he
segued to Japan. And to Alaska. The Eskimo carvers took him on.
Alaskan ivory Billikens became the tourists’ rage. They even named a
movie theatre after him: The Billiken Drive-In.
What’s amazing about all this is that I suspect that very few of
you–dear readers–have ever heard of a Billiken. Unless of course
you have a child called William whom you endearingly call Billy and
when you’re in an exceedingly soft and loving frame of mind you call
to him and say “come here my little Billiken” which has nothing to do
with the doll but is rather more a fancy flight of my imagination.
Anyway. there was an amusement park in the Shinsekai district of
Osaka, Japan where–back in 1912–Billiken was enshrined as a symbol
of Americana and referred to as “The God of Things As They Ought to
Be”… hence the title of this Tidbits. All this from a teacher in
Kansas. who probably hung around as a child with Dorothy of Oz fame.
They both made it–each in their own way–pretty big.
Billiken charms abound in gold and silver and ivory. He came to be
the namesake of Billiken Shokai, a Japanese toy manufacturing company
established in 1976. So there you have it. But wait wait. One more
thing. Heh heh. Almost forgot. I have an image of a cast brass
Billken Head Brooch with six Oriental charms dangling on chains. Made
circa 1938. Unsigned. Worth around $150… maybe more. Any jewelry
aficionado would be proud to own one.
Okay. So go. Run. Fly. Vamoose. No dilly-dallying en route. Look.
Enjoy. Home page. http://www.tyler-adam.com. Scroll down. Left side.
Tel – 1-800-20-TYLER
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