Last week my partner, Dale, sent me an email about a gift he would not be buying me for Christmas (he does this from time to time): a 1915 signed patinated bronze study of ‘Peter Pan’ by George Frampton. The sculpture, 53 cm high, is based on the character created by J. M Barrie. The youthful figure is depicted in a short coat with pipes in hand, raised off a rectangular marble base with ‘Geo Frampton 1915’ and the inscription, ‘PP’, signed in cast. The original statue was unveiled on May 1st, 1912, immediately becoming a great public attraction of London. After reading about the statue I pondered what I could sell of Dale’s so that I might afford to bid on it. However, my good character took over my dark passenger and decided that I was going to be satisfied with my own Peter Pan statues. Mind you, these figures are not signed and cost a lot less than the Bonham statue. A lot less!
The first one I purchased in Norfolk, Virginia, about 12 years ago. An antique dealer friend of mine called me about a lamp he just bought and offered it to me before he placed it in his shop. Based on the Frampton statue, the bronze
lamp was probably manufactured in the late 1920s. The words ‘Peter Pan’ are inscribed on the back of the base. I purchased it and then bought the lamp shade at an antique lighting store, also in Norfolk.
The bronze Peter Pan lighter below left was purchased in 2004 from my friend, Simon (I think he might still have another for sale). The small knob on the stump pulls out and holds the flint.
Among other Peter Pan statues for the general public are that of silent screen star, Betty Bronson, Eva Le Gallienne, and Maude Adams which I shall include in a future blog. And of course, there are the beautiful wax statues of Jean Forbes-Robertson as Peter, one of which I featured in a blog a few months ago. All of these actresses were theatrical or film institutions in their own time.
Last week another institution of a different sort passed away, Esther Williams. (In addition to collecting Peter Pan ephemera, I also collect film soundtrack records.) One of my favorite films with the great swimming star is Neptune’s Daughter starring Ricardo Montalban and the great Betty Garrett. The film featured Frank Loessor’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” which Esther sung with Ricardo. Even better was a Carol Burnett take-off that she performed with Ricardo years later on her television series. As Esther, Carol first sang the duet with Ricardo and then walked out to her veranda and after diving in a pool, sang a second song while swimming above and under water. Very funny!
Isn’t it strange when one of our living institutions leaves us? They seem so permanent until then. Williams was a witty and sharp cookie who enjoyed her success even while she could not understand it. When I was in college, a friend of mine named Moira Berkeley wrote a beautiful poem about life; how precious it is and that the things we create remain while the creator eventually perishes. Yet, biblically speaking, the Creator remains while we, his creations, also perish. It all makes sense, the wonders of ancient Greece, Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s works; but sometimes I wish it was the other way around.