Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The Billiken was a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Ms. Florence Pretz of St. Louis, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream. In 1908 she patented the Billiken who was elf-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.

In its heyday, the Billiken enjoyed worldwide celebrity. In America he became the athletic mascot of Saint Louis University, because the figure was said to resemble coach John R. Bender. The school's athletic teams remain the Billikens to this day. A statue of the Billiken stands in front of the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University Campus and a junior version of the Billiken also became the mascot of nearby Saint Louis University High School. Bud Billiken was a youth-club mascot for the Chicago Defender, and was created in 1923.

At least two Billiken-themed songs were recorded, including "Billiken Rag" and the "Billiken Man Song."

The manufacturer of the dolls, Horsman Dolls, Inc., had earlier enjoyed success with the Teddy bear: a toy named after president Theodore Roosevelt. The Billiken was one of the first copyrighted dolls and the first likenesses of the Billiken, banks and statues, were produced in 1909. After a few brief years of popularity, like many other fad toys, the Billiken faded into obscurity.

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