What Is It?

This is the most mysterious set of salt and pepper shakers in my collection.  I have no idea at all about what it’s supposed to represent. It appears to be a humanized creature of some sort holding a musical instrument.  But what sort of creature?  While it’s dressed like a human in what might be a jumpsuit, a vest, and a tie, it has wings like an insect–a fly or a wasp–and a beak like a bird.  Also, it’s wearing a fez–does it then represent a member of some sort of service organization, like the Shriners?  A bee or fly squad of some sort,maybe?  the Marching Winged Nuts Band?  The musical instrument is a sort of giant tuba, and its size seems disproportionate to the figure it accompanies.

But I’m fairly sure that the two pieces do actually go together, because the intense orangey-red colour of the giant tuba is the same as the creature’s fez, vest, and shoes; and in any case, the giant tuba nests nicely into the creature’s extended right arm, as if it were made to belong there.

So: what is it?  some sort of allegorical representation of a popular saying or catch phrase I don’t recognize, something like “busy as a bee” or  “blowing your own horn”?  Something more arcane, maybe, like “Tuba or not to bee”?   A representation of some long-forgotten tuba great named Wings Feston, or something like that?  What ties together a tuba and a fez-wearing bird-or-bee-like thing?  Who is this beaked stranger?  I’d be grateful for any and all suggestions.

Published by pernodel

Children’s literature critic and author of books for children

2 thoughts on “What Is It?

  1. I have 2 tubas. The 1st was found at an antique store in Kalama, WA. It is yellow with a red/orange stripe. The person at the desk said there was an occupying shaker but none could be found. The 2nd was bought from http://www.shopgoodwill.com. It is red/orange like yours, but came with a squeeze box, accordion/concertina. The colors match so they look like they might match. I like yours, but can’t find the “bug.”
    Any other responses?
    Thanks for posting, Jas

  2. No one else has ever offered any further information about this set, Jas. If you’re looking for companions to your tubas and are willing to send me pictures of them, I could do a new post about them and see if anyone else has anything else to add to this conversation or even maybe some partners for you. If you want to do something like that, you can reach me at perry dot nodelman at gmail dot com.

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