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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Fala La La La: 1934

Fala La La La: 1934

December 1934. "No elephant toys for First Lady. Mrs. Roosevelt, on a Christmas shopping tour, had a hard time convincing Santa Claus that she did not want a toy elephant, a symbol of the Republican Party, as a Christmas present. She is shown here inspecting an assortment of toys at a Washington, D.C., department store Friday." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

More information re the toys

A friend of mine writes:

The following ones I recognized are listed below.

Upper right under Santa: Tin- Wolverine Drummer Boy, circa late 20's early 30's.
Right side: Tin- Structo Steam Shovel, circa 1929
Center: Composition- probably a product of Germany-Clown Roly-Poly some were also made out of tin, circa late 20's
Top center: Pressed Steel- Kingsbury Dump Truck, circa late 20's. Another one can be seen behind some other dolls.
Center left behind Mickey: Tin- Marx Rocket Fighter, circa late 20's up to the early 50's
Lower left: Tin- Street Car, notice the pull string hanging down. Not real sure of the manufacture but my guess would be Wolverine.

Shirley Temple Dolls

Probably the top selling toy of 1934 was the beautiful Shirley Temple Doll seen here in two different sizes (there were 4 or 5 sizes that first year). Made by the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company, Shirley Temple dolls topped the Christmas wish lists of thousands of little Depression-era girls from 1934 until 1939.

One of the amazing things about this doll is how quickly they were created, sculpted, licensed, patented, and manufactured. The concept to do the doll didn't happen until early 1934, so the rights had to be obtained, the unique sculpture (by Bernard Lipfert) created, molds made, fashions designed, advertising created, and production ramped up to have the dolls out by Christmas. As far as I know, the dolls didn't reach the shelves until late Fall 1934, just before the Christmas buying season started. Today toys being promoted for Christmas sales are on the shelves by late summer. Since they are almost all produced in China today, the "hot toys" of each year take a year or 18 months, or even longer, from concept to toy store. It takes many weeks for today's toys to arrive by ship to American and European ports. Hurray for American ingenuity and marketing skills, not to mention the good old-fashioned "made in America" tradition.

No batteries required

I don't think I see anything in the entire display that would need batteries or electricity. A few are wind-up toys and the rest just run on a kid's imagination. What a concept.

Aero Circus

The contraption behind Roosevelt is in fact made of Tinkertoys. Although it is sitting on a stack of Newton Aero Circus boxes, the latter toy looked very different when assembled.

Tinker Toys on Steroids

The only toy in that entire picture that looks interesting to me is that "Aero Circus" behind the first lady. It looks like a lot of fun for a dollar and change. (I have to say that that Santa Claus is about the seediest version of "the jolly old elf" that I've yet encountered. But there was a Depression on so I guess he fit right in.)

Edit (re post, above): I realized my error only minutes after posting: That the "Aero Circus" had been relegated to the position of being merely a base for the Tinker Toy creation. And, after looking it up on the Internets, I can see why.

The Busy Corner

According to the Dec. 14, 1934 Evening Star, this photo was taken at Kann's department store at 8th & Penn. NW.

Fala Precursor

Perhaps this hounds-tooth Scotty planted the seed for their famous real-life Scottie, Fala, several years later.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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