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Mickey Mouse magic lantern outfit.

The Disney company very quickly began to exploit spin-off marketing opportunities for its cartoon characters, and operated a strict licensing policy allowing only products which came up to its exacting standards to depict Disney characters. The Ensign company of London produced this toy lantern set to project series of small glass slides showing images based on the early Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony and feature-length cartoons. This boxed set is marked "produced with permission of Walter E. Disney" rather than the later credit to "Walt Disney Mickey Mouse Ltd.," indicating an early copy.

Ensign Ltd. produced the Mickey Mouse slides as oblong glass strips as well as in the usual square format (3 1/4" x 3 1/4") to go with the larger magic lanterns. In both forms the images are printed on a kind of cellophane and fitted between two glass plates. The cellophane has become creased nowadays and the quality of the images is rather bad.


The Ensign Mickey Mouse magic lantern and its original box. The box measures 33 x 25.5 x 18 cm. When extended the lantern measures 41 x 20 x 15 cm.
 Ensign Ltd., London W.C.1, c. 1931.






Series J. 'Mickey Steps Out', Ensign Ltd., London, c. 1931, size: 13.5 x 3.5 cm.

Each adventure consists of two slides, packed together in a small cardboard box. An accompanying lecture note tells us the story in rhyme. Eleven of these adventures, marked from A up to and including L, are sold apart or are packed together in a blue/black cardboard box (see below).

The drawings on the slides are rather primitive. The black and white images are printed on a thin sheet of cellophane, the black mask is made of paper with punched holes. Cellophane and paper mask are mounted between two glasses and the edges are bound with a strip of red gummed paper.

A - Pioneer Days
B - Traffic Troubles
C - The Gorilla Mystery
D - The Cactus Kid
E - The Birthday Party
F - The Castaway
G - The Delivery Boy
H - The Moose Hunt
J -  Mickey Steps Out
K - Fishin' Around
L - The Fire Fighters
(There's no set I)

The eleven sets could also be sold in the large blue/black box without the small boxes. In that case two wooden blocks with grooves at the sides of the box hold the slides two by two at their places.
The adventure 'Mickey Steps Out' starts with:


Stropping his razor and shaving his face
Throwing his lather all over the place
Mickey was dolling himself up, you see,
For to-night with his Minnie he wanted to be.


Cardboard box of 'The Delivery Boy'.

Title Slide G1


Mickey had a job to-day
To haul a load quite far away
Of horns and drums and other things--
We'll see what his experience brings. 

" Hi-Yi ! Giddup ! " Bumpity, bump, bump, over rocks and ruts came Mickey Mouse with a big wagon-load of musical instruments. There he was, bouncing around on the piano keys and shouting at his old mule, as Pluto skipped and barked along beside him.

It began to look like a hard day for Mickey, until he heard a familiar voice singing gaily in the back-yard of a house he was passing. " Whoa! Hold everything! " And stopping his mule, he turned to Pluto and whispered, " It's Minnie. Let's sneak up and surprise her!"

Slide G2

They tiptoed over behind a fence and watched Minnie. She was skipping from the pump with a pail of water for her wash tub.

Rubbitty, rubbitty, rubbitty, rub-- 
She washed the clothes in a big wooden tub;
She soaped them well and rinsed them out,
While bubbles and suds floated round about.
Then she wrung them dry as dry could be,
As she sang " In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree."
But yonder, on linen and corset and coat,
Crunched a tattered and battered old billy goat.

Slide G3

And when Minnie angrily rushed over and yanked the clothes out of the old goat's mouth, Mickey giggled right out loud, and Pluto had to stick his paw in his mouth to keep from barking.

Then Mickey slipped over to the clothesline, and climbing into a pair of panties hanging on the line, he took the clothes prop and pushed himself quietly along until he came up behind Minnie. Reaching down he strummed her tail, like a harp.

Minnie turned around in surprise, and guessing that it was Mickey who was teasing her (he was always doing something like that), she pushed the panties over the tub, pulled the string and let Mister Smarty fall ker-splash, right into the water!

Slide G4

Soaked to the skin, Mickey was a funny sight as he climbed out. Then--

They sang and skipped and danced in glee
Under the spreading apple tree,
Till Mickey, seeing a hornet's nest,
And wanting to see how his punches would test,
Gave it a SOCK! and away it did sail,
To drop with a CRASH! on the sleepy mule's tail.

Slide G5

" HEE-HAW 1 HEE-HAW! " brayed the terrified mule, and BIFF, BANG, WHAM!-up went the old wagon with its load of instruments, scattering them in the air, and Mickey and Minnie just barely escaped being hit by the piano, as it came down with an awful bump.

While o'er in the barnyard the air was blue,
With " baa-a" and "yonk" and "quack" and "moo-o-o,"
As horns and fiddles and drums quite big
Fell on the cow, the goat and the pig. 

" Oh, Mickey, a PIANO 1 Can you play it ? " " A little bit," answered Mickey twisting a button off his pants. " Come on and play it," urged Minnie. " Aw,__

I have to be coaxed," said Mickey. So Minnie rolled her big brown eyes and leaning over she smiled sweetly in his face, saying, " Well, I'm coaxing you, Big Boy! " And Mickey just couldn't help himself.

Slide G6

He began to play and soon Minnie was playing too. Now when all the animals in the barnyard heard the music, each joined in with his instrument.

Old Bossy blew hard on the sliding trombone
While the lamb toodle-ooed on the saxophone;
The caterpillar jumped on the big bass drum
And stamped with his feet, rat-a-tit -Bum, BUM!
Down in the grass on the bass violin,
Three squirrels bowed merrily, chiming in.
Way up in a tree hung a banjo neat,
And the birds plink-a-plinked it with their feet.

You would have laughed to see the goat hanging by his horns from the tree, playing the drum with his hoofs. And way up on the barn roof a fat pig blew his horn and made the weathervane spin around. Mickey and Minnie sat on the piano, blowing cornets and tapping the keys with their feet. Then Mickey followed a turtle around the yard, drumming on its back while he yanked the mule's tail so that his ears whanged the cymbals together. Everybody was certainly having a glorious time. But meanwhile Pluto was 'way up the road, sniffing around some workmen. One of them threw some dynamite into a pile of rocks and Pluto, thinking it was a stick, chased it. When the workmen saw him coming with it in his mouth, they ran for their lives and jumped into a barrel of black, sticky tar.

So Pluto, hearing the music afar,
Left the roadmen in their barrel of tar,
And grabbing the sputtering dynamite stick,
Ran to Mickey and dropped it quick!

Mickey and Minnie were too busy playing to notice Pluto. So he lay down on the ground and began to chew the dynamite, not realizing what terrible danger they were all in.

P'raps you've heard that wise old rats,
When their ship is sinking, seize their hats
And swim for shore while yet they've time,
Ere the brave ship settles 'neath the brine.
And so it was with Pluto's fleas--
They heard their master chew and wheeze,
And leaped far out and hopped away
They preferred to die another way !

Slide G7

And Pluto, seeing them depart, got up and sniffing on the ground behind them, went along too.

BANG! CRASH ! exploded the terrible dynamite. Up into the air went Mickey and Minnie, the mule and the piano. And as the smoke cleared away, down came the piano and the mule lit right behind it. Then came Mickey, and finally Minnie-- with her tambourine stuck to the seat of her panties.

Slide G8

The mule had lost his skin-- but nobody was hurt. And Mickey kept right on playing, and Minnie continued her dancing.

Of course, the whole back end of the piano was gone, but the hammers were still there, only instead of striking the strings they played on the old mule's ribs. And, would you believe it, it sounded even better than before!

First Mickey by his job was peeved,
But now he felt gay and relieved.
They showed by playing until late
That music can't be stopped by fate.


See also:
Mickey Mouse toy lantern outfit
Magic Lanterns, Ensign.
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Last update: 30-10-2023.
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