by Ronald E. Gray
The character depicted in this month’s stein is celebrating his 76th birthday in November. This stein does not talk, but do you know who provided Mickey’s voice on screen? The answer appears at the end of the column. While Walt Disney’s sketches were prior to this date, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in "Steamboat Willie" on November 18, 1928. This is one of a set of three Disney character steins, although they are officially called the Disney Character Tankard Series. The other two characters are Donald Duck and Goofy. For the story of Mickey Mouse visit the site shown in reference 1 or visit the Official Walt Disney site shown in reference 2.
I am sure all you old Mouseketeers out there recognize the song in the background:
"M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E Mickey Mouse…"
Yes the Mickey Mouse March! For those of you having trouble remembering the lyrics, especially those unable to sleep because you keep repeating the tune in your mind hoping to recall all the words, the complete lyrics can be found at the site in reference 3.
The Tankard Series was made by Ceramarte Ltda. for The Walt Disney Company. Ceramarte was founded in Rio Negrinho, Santa Catarina, Brazil by Klaus and Maria Schumacher, post-WWII German emigrants, in 1956. Klaus had the ceramic experience to make steins, while Maria had the modeling, designing and painting experience. The company began expanding outside of Brazil in 1970 and now bills itself as the world’s largest producer of artistic ceramic products for collectors, although it produces many other ceramic wares. Ceramarte’s steins are generally produced for others, so you will not find many steins or mugs listed on their web site shown in reference 4. The biggest customer for Ceramarte steins, which accounts for a significant portion of their production and thus a major factor for their world ranking, is Anheuser-Busch. Avon, Coors, Hamms, Miller High Life, Olympic Brewing, Stroh Brewery and Walt Disney have also been customers of Ceramarte. Kössinger, a German importer and distributor, also used Ceramarte. The Kőssinger steins are usually marked with the initials “C-Kö” under the capacity mark and sometimes are marked on the bottom with "Edition Kössinger."
The Disney Character Tankard Series was introduced in 1992 with Donald Duck, followed by Mickey Mouse in 1993 and Goofy in 1994. There apparently is no rhyme or reason to the order as it is neither alphabetical nor chronological (Disney introduced Mickey in 1928, Goofy in 1932 and Donald in 1934). Production figures are not available, but one dealer informed me that the shipment of the Goofy steins had a lot of damage and thus will be the rarest of the three in the series to collect. The same dealer also stated that the series was discontinued due to concern some parent’s expressed about the steins not properly representing the Disney image. It should be noted that the boxes for Donald and Goofy clearly state, "For decorative purposes only. Not intended for use with food products." A similar warning also appears on the bottom of Donald’s stein. I presume "food products" includes beverages, non-alcoholic or otherwise. I guess it is not necessary to warn people about lifting the head of a mouse to drink out of its body. The thumblifts have the script "D" for Disney.
This month’s stein is from the collection of Thomas Marshall Gray. His collection is not very big, but then neither is he. He just celebrated his first birthday last month. Thomas is also the newest and youngest member of SCI. A picture of him with his proud collection is shown below. Thomas usually has a big smile when the camera is on him, so I am hoping this is an indication he will become a serious collector.
Happy Birthday Mickey! And Thomas, I hope you enjoy your birthday presents from grandma and grandpa (oma und opa). Oh yes, the person who was Mickey’s voice for two decades was none other than Walt Disney himself.