Vintage European Disneyana
by Didier Ghez
One of the most interesting French manufacturers of vintage Disney toys has a name that always astonished me. When a French man pronounces the name Jouets Vera, it resonates to him as "male pig toys".
I have often wondered if this were due to the fact that some of the earlier jigsaw puzzles that this company produced featured the three little pigs. In fact, most of the small pre-war jigsaw puzzles boxes of Jouets Vera show Disney's Three Little Pigs hidden behind a fence along with Mickey and Minnie.
Jouets Vera seems to have started its Disney activity around 1933. The Blue Ribbon illustrations that it uses are very typical of the French production of the mid '30s.
As with Faienceries d'Onnaing, the first toys featured mostly Mickey, Minnie and the Three Little Pigs.
Later, Donald appeared, especially in the late '30s puzzles and block game showing a classical scene from The Band Concert.
In 1938 a Snow White puzzle was also produced, which added to the tens of small and large (from 6,3 per 7,9 inches to 9 per 11,8 inches) "standard characters" games that had appeared earlier.
Fortunately, the war did not stop the production of Jouets Vera jigsaw puzzles. In the mid '40s, Bambi, Dumbo and, of course, Pinocchio boxes were released.
Those boxes often contained more than one puzzle (as many as 6 for one Pinocchio box), which was seldom the case before the war.
The Dumbo set is particularly interesting as it shows a caricature of Ward Kimball as Casey Jr. driver.
In the early and mid '50s, Vera games were still as popular. Hence the Cinderella and Lady and the Tramp puzzles as well as the Mickey et Compagnie range (inspired by Gottfredson drawings) that were printed at the time.
No other games from Jouets Vera are know to exist after Lady and the Tramp.
Those wood puzzles have delighted three generations and will probably be enjoyed by many more collectors to come. When you see them, the reason why this is so is no longer a puzzle.
Un-published update (May 21, 1998): Yvan Pauli from Belgium contacted me recently to let me know that after Lady and the Tramp, Vera produced at least three puzzles of 101 Dalmatians (in the same box) and one from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
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