Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Real facsimiles

I've been reading a couple of books put out by Disney (Disney Treasures and Disney Keepsakes) which give brief histories of Disney works, together with reproductions of various Disney memorabilia. Every page or two there is a removable piece which is a replica of something from long ago--a cartoon panel from a magazine, tickets from the opening of Disneyland, a menu from the studio cafeteria, paper toys distributed as promotional materials, and similar items. The books themselves are light, fun, and filled with pictures. I like perusing these before bed to wind down.

The memorabilia is odd in a way, and I enjoy them more than I thought I would. The replicas are often objects that (in original form) are collectors items, the sort of thing people would pay money for at an auction. I understand some of the allure, although I wouldn't be willing to pay what the originals cost by any stretch of the imagination. There is something about getting to hold and examine some little piece of history, even if it's an insignificant little trinket. I was holding one night a copy of a paper Pinocchio mask that was distributed as a promotion by Gillette (of all people) in 1940-1941. It's a weird feeling to hold that mask. Something that floated around almost unnoticed almost 70 years ago. Some child who is now significantly older than me probably played with one just like it. And here it is again, born anew.

Granted, these are fakes, reproductions rather than originals. But most of the originals were quick promotional gimmicks, not intended to be great works of art in any case. So really how much difference is there between the original and the copy? (Maybe the new copy is even made on better material.) So it's sort of cool to see and hold, and think about these being around so many years ago, seen and then quickly forgotten at the time.

I went through a similar phase with pennies once. Every time I found a penny (or really any coin), I'd check to see when it was minted. Then I'd try to think back to what was happening in my life that year. It's like a connection to that time. But sometimes I'd find a penny made before I was born. It's kind of weird and somewhat disturbing to be holding in your hand a penny, generally thought of as small and insignificant, which is older than you are.

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