KOOL Penguin Collectibles

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I have located two items that can be fairly classified in this category.  The first is the seldom seen set of Willie and Millie "scatter pins."  This item also has the distinction of being the only other "Millie" collectible, aside from the pepper shaker, that has come to my attention.  This pair is hard to find, particularly if still attached to the original card.  Their value?  Hard to say, but you could easily be hit for $100 if you can find them.

Although not strictly "jewelry," I also place in this category one of the oddest of all KOOL penguin collectibles -- the "Dr. KOOL" keychain.  One side depicts Willie with his medical bag and the other side the familiar medical symbol.  In case KOOL smokers didn't realize how healthy it was to smoke, this item served as a constant reminder.  One of these guys sold in March 1998 for about $58.


As you might expect, there are a number of KOOL penguin accouterments, which lend themselves specifically to the task of smoking cigarettes.  Among them are the handy cigarette tin, seen at left.  Yes, it is hard to see the little penguin there in the lower right corner.  Take a look at a larger image of one that sold for $150 in August 1998.

We also have the more upscale hardcase cigarette holder.  These are pricey too and finding one in really nice shape is no easy task. Both of these feature the early realistic-style penguin.

Other items produced with the dedicated KOOL smoker in mind, include illustrated ashtrays and special penguin figurine lighters.

The largest of the KOOL penguin cigarette lighters looks very much like the large papier mache counter-top figure seen above.  The one shown at left is also rendered in the earlier (mid-'30s) style.  These rare plug-in electric lighters are hard to come by.  They exist in at least two varieties.

The one above has the lighter in the top of the hat.  A similar variety has the lighter located in the middle of his chest!  Here it is as shown in the Brown and Williamson coupon redemption catalog.  I have seen a picture of a hat-lighter variation that does not have the decal on the chest.  Until I see it with my own eyes, however, I will suspect that this may just be a restored example having no decal. These large "plastic" lighters stand about 9" tall and will bring prices in the hundreds of dollars.

A smaller "Willie" lighter also exists, a metal one with a flip-back head that exposes the lighter's workings.  These are tough to find in nice condition.  The one shown here has a bit of paint missing from the beak and a little of the "Light Up A KOOL" decal on the chest has flaked off.  These little guys are just a bit bigger than the salt shakers and just a tad shorter than "Dr. Kool."  If you can find one, expect to pay $175-$225 or more.  If you have something to trade, I know someone (*cough*) who can probably help.

A third, more modern style, lighter is shown at left.  Your humble scribe attempted to buy this guy in an auction in July 1998, but was uncermoniously outbid by some guy who doesn't know the value of a dollar.

The illustrated KOOL penguin ashtray is known in at least three varieties.  The most common, seen here, is "milk glass" and can be bought (If you are diligent) for as little as $15 in nice condition.  The second most common is a variety that is imprinted "OPALEX Made In France" on the bottom.  The third, and seemingly least common, variety is a "porcelain" ashtray with a more rounded rim.  These latter two generally sell for several dollars more.  The lip of each ashtray is illustrated with four little images of Willie depicting his activities during the four seasons of the year.


The "boss" in this catagory has got to be the illuminated advertising clock, one of the very nicest and most scarce of all KOOL penguin items.   These are rarely found and cost a pretty penny when they are.   Expect to pay several hundred dollars depending on condition.  Indeed, a nice example of this clock sold in an Internet auction in February 1999 for the sobering price of $985.

[Take my word for it, you can also expect to pay some pretty pennies every time one of the little 7 ½ watt light bulbs burns out, too.]

Another extraordinary entry in the miscellaneous category is the "Willie the Penguin" comic book.  Click the image at left for an examination of this public relations coup.

There are at least four varieties of the KOOL Penguin hand-held fan.

The one on the left features an ad for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra radio broadcast.  This is an exceptional image, one of the very few in which we find the penguin with both his top hat and monocle.  You'd have trouble buying one of these for less than $75 to $100 in nice condition.  The one on the right features a nice image of Willie holding a pack of cigarettes with a pair of ice tongs.  The reverse side of has a listing of premiums that the persistent smoker could acquire in exchange for Brown and Williamson coupons that came in each pack.  This very fan sold in April 1998 for $36.

The third fan features the very early realistic penguins, indicating that it dates to the mid-'30s, possibly even as early as 1933.  The only other clue is the text on the back that tells us that a pack of twenty ciggies could be bought for 15 cents.

The fourth fan, which is from the same period as the third one, also features the early realistic penguins.  I have only seen one example of this one.  It was bought by some other bum, before I got a fair chance at it.

Among the most sought after miscellaneous items are the snappy Willie penguin drinking glasses.  Each has a picture and slogan somewhat similar to the images and poetry on the back of the cigarette packs.  A complete set of these consists of 12 different images.  Actually, there were two sets of these glasses which, at first glance, appear to be identical.  However, one variety has a relatively flat (only a slight recess) bottom.  The other variety has a deep indentation of a half-inch or more.  These tumblers have been known to sell for as much as $100 each, but are also sometimes found for significantly less.

One of the nicer miscellaneous collectibles is the adhesive decal that vendors affixed to a glass door or window, back in the days when air conditioning was a novelty.  There are at least two other KOOL penguin window decals, one with the slogan "Hot Coffee and KOOL Cigarettes."  One might presume there were also matchbooks featuring images of our little guy, but I have never seen one.

I am always in the market to buy or trade for items not already in my collection.  Please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail if you have an item to sell or trade.  Details may be found on my wanted and for trade page.


In addition to authorized KOOL Willie merchandise and collectibles, I have discovered a number of items which either deliberately or coincidentally resemble our little guy.  An illustrated survey of these may be found on the separate faux Willie page.

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This page created and maintained by Jim Lowe
First appearance: May 18, 1997
Last updated: October 22, 1999

© 1997, 1998, and 1999 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.