Rare Antique 1908 Brass Billiken Figural Vesta Case Match Safe
This is not a reproduction. This in an original 1908 Billiken Vesta Case Match Safe, Made in Germany. The Billiken is a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream. It is believed that Pretz found the name Billiken in Bliss Carman's 1896 poem "Mr. Moon: A Song Of The Little People". In 1908, she obtained a design patent on the ornamental design of the Billiken, which she sold to the Billiken Company of Chicago. The Billiken was monkey-like with pointed ears, a mischievous smile and a tuft of hair on his pointed head. His arms were short and he was generally sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him. Billiken is known as "The God of Things as They Ought to Be". To buy a Billiken was said to give the purchaser luck, but to receive one as a gift would be better luck. The image was copyrighted and a trademark was put on the name. After a few years of popularity, the Billiken faded into obscurity. Although they are similar, the Billiken and the baby-like kewpie figures that debuted in the December 1909 Ladies' Home Journal are not the same. Today, the Billiken is the official mascot of Saint Louis University and St. Louis University High School, both Jesuit institutions located in St. Louis. The Billiken is also the official mascot of the Royal Order of Jesters, an invitation only Shriner group, affiliated with Freemasonry. The Billiken also became the namesake of Billiken Shokai, the Japanese toy & model manufacturing company (established 1976).
Fully hallmarked "U.S.P. Oct. 6, 08 D.R.G.M." (1908) "Made in Germany".
Hinge is good and tight, and the lid closes properly. Still retains its original finish and patina.
This is an extremely rare piece from Michael's private, personal collection.