Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Art of Play: “Fido” the Toy Lion, 1914

This plush lion is a testament to the love that children feel for their soft toys. Purchased in Calgary in 1914, “Fido” was named as such because he was initially believed to be a dog. He was purchased for a young girl, Nancy Mildon, by her mother. By 1916, as the First World War swelled, Fido was a source of comfort for Nancy, and served as he constant companion. He traveled with her across the ocean three times in 1916 on the RMS Alaunia, in 1921 and in 1929.  

Plush Lion, 1914
Calgary, Alberta
The Merseryside Maritime Museum

While on the RMS Alaunia, Fido was loaned by Nancy’s mother (against Nancy’s wishes) to another young girl aboard the shop, Ruth Merrington. So enamored by Fido was Ruth that she drew a picture of the lion and wrote a poem in his honor which she presented to Nancy upon returning Fido to his best friend.

Fido was so beloved that Nancy kept him (along with the drawing and poem by Ruth Merrington) until her death at age ninety. Today, Fido continues to delight people. He’s on display, with his poem and drawing, in Lifelines Gallery, on the 1st floor of the Merseyside Maritime Museumin Liverpool.

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