It is amazing how many people have sold me (or tried to sell me) "KOOL Penguin" items, that are not KOOL Penguin items -- the blatant little impostor below being a prime example.
Despite my disappointments, and occasional anger, there are a number of items so similar in design and appearance to "Willie" that they have a compelling attraction of their own.
Some may resemble Willie by pure coincidence. After all, a penguin is a penguin. Others, seemingly were produced with the deliberate intent to copy the look of our little guy. You may sort the following into these categories on your own.
One of the items that most resembles Willie is the wooden penguin "walker." As described on an Internet auction site in February 1998:
This little guy is too cute! He measures 4 1/2" tall, across the bottom of his feet is 1 5/8". The body, head, feet, legs and beak are all made out of wood. The wings and tail are cut from a very thin layer of leather. Wooden walkers were made from the 1920's through the 1940's.
This one does not show any markings as to who was the maker or where he was made. He is in great condition and soooooooo adorable!!
The best known of all KOOL penguin items are the plastic salt and pepper shakers, so it comes as no surprise that there are other sets of shakers that resemble the popular Willie and Millie.
The best of these is the ceramic set, shown at left. [A better picture will appear just as soon as I put my hands on a pair of these slippery little devils.]
These were obviously made in a conscious attempt to copy the KOOL penguins. "Willie" has a hat and cane. "Millie" is carrying a parasol. The pair shown at right may have been innocent impostors, but they still look enough like our guy to be worthy of mention.
Among the finest of the Faux Willie items is the impressive "Hubley" cast iron doorstop, shown at right.
I'm not a doorstop collector, but apparently this one is in demand. The example pictured here sold at auction in February 1998 for $431. Everything about this item says KOOL Penguin, except that it's not. It's close enough, however, to be worthy of a place in my collection, if I can find an owner who is somewhat desperate for quick cash.
Actually, just about any cartoon-like penguin is going to bear a resemblance to Willie if you throw in formal attire. The nice silver pin, at left, sold in an Internet auction in February 1998 for the seemingly agreeable price of $26.
Yet another variation on the theme is this little bakelite and metal pin. He doesn't really look all that much like Willie, but he serves as a nice example of that grey area between obviously KOOL penguin knockoffs and obviously not KOOL penguins.
What it comes down to is this -- there are many "penguin" collectibles and many collectors out there who are eager to collect them. But, if it doesn't say "KOOL" on it, or it isn't clearly licensed or authorized by the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, it's not "Willie the KOOL Penguin."
In addition to all of this, there is the underbelly of the collecting world -- those who deliberately manufacture "rare collectible" KOOL penguin items and attempt to pass them off as legitimate in such places as the eBay Internet auctions. I urge you to read the special page devoted to this subject.
I encourage you to e-mail me with your comments.
Go back to the "Willie" Penguin page.
© 1998 and 2002 by James R. Lowe, who reserves all rights to the content of this page not successfully claimed by others.