Here is an unlicensed German figurine made as a joke by a worker at the Schneider Factory of a naked woman holding Mickey in her hand (1931) AND the story of how it was pulled from eBay for obscenity! This is a good example of the joys of collecting and how it is often the back-story that is most interesting...
We collect more than just cels and pencils - watches, lamps, lunch boxes, books, etc. In 2006, my wife, Jenny, had been looking for Mickey-related items on eBay when she came across this item being sold by a fellow in Germany. [Now, I should note that we also tend to pick up items that are considered "politically incorrect."] Jenny had put in a few bids and was getting ready to take on any snipers as the last hour started. Then, when she hit "reload," the item vanished! She emailed the seller trying to find out what had happened. After a disconcerting period of silence, he wrote back that eBay had pulled the item because it was considered "obscene." We gather that someone had seen the item, was outraged, and complained to eBay -- which triggered the removal by eBay. [Note: I remember browsing the eBay site and noticed that other figurines of naked women were still being offered for sale. Then I looked at the definitions that eBay was using at the time for offensive material. Since the only difference between this figurine of a naked woman and other similar figurines was the addition of a mouse, I came to the conclusion that the item was removed due to its 'bestiality". I should note that eBay never informed the Seller, as far as I know, of the exact reason his item was pulled.] Since Jenny had the highest bid prior to the item disappearing, the seller agreed to send her the figurine.
When "Steamboat Willie" (1928) was first seen in Europe, a number of factories produced unlicensed versions of Mickey Mouse, but since the film was in black & white no one really knew Mickey's color scheme and those doing knock-offs had to guess. This is not a small figurine -- measuring about 10-inches tall and with a diameter of 6-inches. The quality is excellent. The colors are muted, which was typical of figurines of that period, and the finish is unblemished.
During the sales process, the seller sent Jenny a short note on the figurine's background, which I thought was great. Here is the text in its entirety:
Dear Jenny,While many think collecting is about the items, it is really more than that. It is about the process -- the search, the knowledge gained, the people you meet, and, above all, the fun!
Thank you for your letter. I`m sorry about my bad English, but I hope you can understand me. So... the story of this figurine is:
In 1928 comes in your country the movie "Steamboat Willie" in black and white. It was a big success. In September in the same year the mouse was made by 3 different factories in Germany WITHOUT license. The 3 factories were SCHNEIDER, Leube, and WKC. All these 3 factories were in the middle of the Thuringian Forest, the area in there I live. Nobody has seen the Mickey in the color clothes, so the 3 factory made the mouse in black and white and in lilac and green clothes. This was the early mouse.
Around 1931 the Disney license was given in your country to the Borgfeldt. Now was it forbidden to produce the mouse WITHOUT license. You have now the first Mouse without License. Very rare.
Now the story is going on: In the Schneider factory was made a lot of art deco figurines, Bathing beauty and half dolls. Now has made an worker a JOKE. He has giving this naked woman the Mickey in her hand. He has made total 5 of this figurines, but the other are missing over this long time. This figurine was NEVER, NEVER in production. OH GOD, Disney would have heartbreak, if he has seen his cute mouse in the hand of a naked Girl. Do you understand, what I mean?
I have the last 2 figurines purchased around 1-1/2 years ago from nephew of this worker that made this joke. I`m ABSOLUTELY sure, you can NEVER find an similar item. This old man has one more rare early Mickey, a Mickey Mouse in an sport car, but he will this rare figurine not sell. But I have my 2 eyes on this figurine.
Have a good weekend,
----- DATABASE NOTES ----
Mickey and Naked Woman Figurine by Schneider Employee (1931). A figurine of Mickey in the hand of a naked woman. Produced as a joke by a worker at the Schneider factory in Germany. [10"Hx8"Diameter] Acquired 2006. SeqID-1846