Stan and Mardi Timm are serious collectors of Whoopee Cushions, Joy Buzzers, X-Ray Spex, Doggie Doodit, The Ventrilo, stink bombs, squirting flowers, and the other delightful gags and novelties that you might have seen in the back pages of comic books. The Timms are true scholars of these pop culture icons and the companies that manufactured the 1,800 items in their collection that the elderly men are now trying to sell as they downsize their lives. From Lisa Hix's profile in Collectors Weekly:
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“Novelties are so much more than goofy, silly things,” Mardi says. “Everything that comes on to the marketplace starts out as a novelty. They’re things that are not common, things that make you say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before!’ or ‘What is that thing?'”
The collection documents U.S. popular culture from the mid-1910s through today, Mardi explains. Exploring the Timms’ catalog, you can identify the problems that plagued Americans over the decades—particularly in the early 20th century, when most Americans lived in more isolated rural communities—and sometimes unintentionally hilarious ways they tried to solve those problems. (Is your bath cold? How about you plug an electric heating device into the wall and then put it in your water?)
“We have the Tark Electric Razor, which is a scary thing for me,” Mardi says. “You put razor blades in it, you plug it in, and the thing vibrates. Now, would you want to put that on your face if you were a man? I don’t think so.
Jonah White made a fortune selling misshapen novelty teeth. He tells his story of how he did it in Mel Magazine:
The guy with the Billy Bob Teeth, Rich Bailey, was in dentistry school at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Within a week, he gave me a lab coat, snuck me into the dental lab and taught me how to make Billy Bob Teeth. Over the course of the next semester, I made about 6,000 pairs of them.
We sold them at hundreds and hundreds of state fairs across the country — from Kentucky to Wisconsin to New York. Basically, we found that any outdoor family setting was conducive to good business and highly susceptible to our ruthless Billy Bob Teeth sales team. Our best single day performance was $17,000, but most of these events yielded at least $2,000 to $5,000 per day. Those were great times. Overall, four years after we started, we were earning $2 million a year in 1998. It helped, of course, that we got the deal to make Austin Powers’s teeth, and that later, Miley Cyrus started to wear them. We cut a licensing deal with her and split the profits.
Tour of a fake vomit factory
S.S. Adams invented over 700 practical jokes. Here's a great book about them Read the rest
Karswell is co-editor of the Chilling Archives of Horror Comic Books series (including Zombies, excerpted on Boing Boing). He also runs the fabulous blog, and everything else too. He recently scanned a circa-1960 novelty catalog, which is loaded with intriguing objects from a bygone era.
If you've ever read a silver age comic book in your life, chances are you've seen the ad for World Wide Diamond Co., once located in windy wacky Chicago IL. And if you sent away for one of their smallish, 48-page, newsprint mail order catalogs then you absolutely uncovered a world of REAL hidden treasure! For buried there among all the other pages of cheap, gaudy jewelry and marked down wristwatches are the NOVELTY gift and gag pages, crammed packed with a jaw-dropping assortment of magic tricks, prank gadgets, monster masks, 'bop' style glasses, toys and other various instruments of endless enchantment and far-out fun! Man, there's seriously so much good stuff to share from this guide that it'll take two entire posts to deliver it all-- ENJOY!!
I wonder how many people bought the tiny donkey tie clip, which emits a loud fart when the wearer squeezes a rubber bulb?
WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 1) | WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 2) Read the rest