Who was the original Billiken?
As we have shown on the Billiken History page, the Billiken character originally appeared in several stories by Sarah Hamilton Birchall that appeared in the magazine The Canada West. Florence Pretz was the illustrator of these stories. You can read the stories on the Billiken Stories page, but here we are presenting for the first time the actual illustrations themselves. You will be able to see how Billiken progressed from a tiny winged fairey to the form he later took in the patent issued to Miss Pretz in 1908.
Here is the very first ever published appearance of Billiken, in the story While Billiken Slept, May 1907:
You can see that the earliest Billiken had a few features that are missing from his later incarnation: wings, antennae and long pointy toes. Billiken’s second appearance, in the story Billiiken’s Umbrella, was two months later in The Canada West issue of July 1907:
The very next month, August 1907, was Billiken’s third appearance in Billiken and the Nasturtium Vine:
The next story, from the October 1907 issue of The Canada West is proof positive that our little Billiken is the very same fairey that appeared in the Bliss Carman poem Mister Moon. Here is Billiken, asking Mr. Moon “when are you comin’ down?”
The last Billiken story appeared in January 1908. Here is Nubbles and the Queen’s Supper:
Finally, here a picture of an original Billiken figure from 1908. You can see his wings are gone, but there are still grooves in his back where the wings once were: