Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

A Short History by David Chown

Snow White is truly a European story told in many languages and dialects of Europe, the best version and now most famous, being from Germany and collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early part of the 19th Century.  Their first book published in 1812, included the story of Snow White, Schneewittchen and over 200 other fairy stories.  These stories were first published in the English language in 1823 with illustrations by George Cruikshank.   In their original published form, Grimm’s fairy tales were always very dark and violent, in contrast to the lighter, modern “Disney versions” of their tales. 

In 1912 there was a Broadway play “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” produced by Winthrop Ames who also wrote the dialogue under the name of Jessie Graham White. In this production the names of the dwarfs were first mentioned.  They were called Blick, Flick, Glick, Snick, Plick, Whick and Quee. The show opened at the Little Theater on West 44th St. New York on Oct 31st 1912  to favourable reviews.

Wade 1980's Snow White Set

In 1916 Winthrop Ames adapted his Broadway play to the screen for the 1916 silent film Snow White which was directed by J. Searle Dawley.  Walt Disney is said to have been influenced by this early silent film based on the Snow White story.  The running time for the film was 63 minutes.

In 1933 a cartoon version of Snow White was also made by Max Fleisher with Betty Boop as Snow White. This was directed by Dave Fleischer and animated by Roland C Crandall.  The cartoon short features Betty dreaming she was Snow White and is available to view on Youtube.

At Christmas 1937 Walt Disney released the first animated full length feature film of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs which premiered at the Radio City Music Hall in New York.  In this film which was directed by William Cottrell and David Hand, Disney give his dwarfs new names,Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Doc and Happy.   The film became one of the biggest box office successes of the era and gave Disney studios the basis to become what it is today. Walt Disney also collected an academy award for the film which is reported to have grossed the Disney Corporation a staggering £97,609,859.64   $184,925,486 to date. This film runs for 83 minutes.

To coincide with the release of the 1937 film, in 1938 Wade Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent commissioned Jessie van Hallen to design the Disney characters that sold originally for just over one pound per set.  This set is still sort after by Wade collectors although as they were produced with a cellulose finish, the condition has often deteriorated.

Between 1981 and 1986 Wade once again produced the Snow White characters, this time the modeller was Alan Maslankowski.  A perfect set can sell for as much as £500 at the moment.

2009 Wade Club Snow White Set

In 2008 The Wade Collectors Club also produced Snow White as their club set which came with a beautiful stand reminiscent of an art deco butter dish.  This set was very popular with collectors.

It is interesting to note that Wade have produced Snow White three times: twice with Disney licenses and once, the last from the original Grimm Brothers story. All are works of art and do justice to the long tradition of Wade excellence.  Many other world famous potteries have produced Walt Disney versions of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs over the decades, Hagen-Renaker of San Dimas, California, USA  and of Course the Royal Doulton Company of Stoke on Trent, England to name but a few.

Hagen Renaker 1950's large Snow White Set
Hagen-Renaker 1950's Miniature Snow White Set

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