The 1906 Wonderland Ledger reports that there were souvenir stands at Wonderland, and that these took in a total of $972.75 in the first year of operation. But what were the Wonderland souvenirs? Certainly many of the souvenirs sold today wouldn’t have been around then. The inexpensive injection-molded plastic souvenirs and cedar wood carvings so familiar from the 1950s and 1960s didn’t yet exist. So what was there? Some of these are essentially what is still being sold.
There’s no need to post examples here — practically every webpage on this site uses postcards to illustrate Wonderland. They were the most widespread of souvenirs, because they were inexpensive and because they could very effectively show people what it was that the sender was seeing.
In this pre-radio day, with few recordings (the Penny Arcade specialized in phonograph recordings, after all), the only way that publicists could get music touting the attractions where people could hear them was to sell them the sheet music, so that they could play the songs on their own pianos or other instruments and sing them for themselves. (The songs were sung at Wonderland Park at the shows and parades, which created a market for them).
The Souvenir Programs provided information about the park, in addition to being reminders of the Park. Curiously, they included no maps of the park. For some reason, they only seem to have offered programs for two years that the park was open — 1906 and 1908. Perhaps they re-used the 1906 programs for 1907. Certainly the austerity introduced after the 1908 bankruptcy would have made the issuing of programs after 1909 less likely.
There are two slightly different editions of the 1908 program.
Separate program books were issued for the Fighting the Flames show. The show itself differed in 1907 from the 1906 edition, with a different script and cast. The covers, however, looked identical
(The names Fire and Flames and Fighting the Flames were used interchangeably for the show)
The Wonderland Photographer took souvenir photos, such as this one captured at the Japanese Village
Souvenirs that were not made of paper were less common
Souvenir spoons are still collected today, and usually put on display in special frames or holders. They’re not very useful as spoons
The back of the bowl says “Compliments of Wonderland”, which seems to be the standard way of saying “Souvenir of Wonderland”
The front of the bowl, too.
This souvenir spoon has a log cabin on the handle, because it’s also a souvenir of Log Cabin syrup.
Souvenir Celluloid Buttons
Modern souvenir buttons are created by sandwiching a paper with the words or photograph between a metal backing and a tough, clear plastic film. A hundred years ago the process was similar, but the plastic used was celluloid.
There was a Photo Button business at Wonderland. According to the 1906 ledger, it made $702.40 in the first summer. I haven’t found any photo buttons from the park, but I have found this:
The J.C. Ayer company made patent medicines. Apparently they, like many companies, had a company outing for employees at the park. July 19 was a Thursday. I can find no further details about what they did that day.
This is a very small ceramic dish, a souvenir of the Japanese Village
The dish was too small to be of any practical use. Here it is with a quarter for scale
Souvenir Golden Slipper
The big musical extravaganza of 1909 was Cinderella and the Golden Slipper (See the Musicals page for further information, and on why it wasn’t a glass slipper.) As a souvenir of the show, they sold a small slipper made of metal coated with gold coloring. It was almost certainly attached by the sole to some sort of base, which has become lost through the years.
Observe that, like the spoon, the shoe is marked “Compliments of Wonderland.” The hole in the slipper was probably where it was attached to a wooden or metal base.