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ASI, American Souvenirs Inc.
Disneyland's First Souvenirs

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Dating Disneyland Souvenirs With ASI Trademarks

ASI American Souvenirs Inc. logo.Many of Disneyland's first in park souvenirs were from ASI, American Souvenirs Inc. an important, historic detail for many avid Disneyana Collectors. The ASI story started with Cornelius Vanderbilt "C. V." Wood, or "Woody", before the Original Disneyland Park opened. Woody was hired by Walt and Roy Disney aka the Disney brothers in 1954. He became Disneyland's vice president, general manager of the Disneyland project and Disneyland's first employee. Woody worked closely with the Disney Brothers particularly Roy Disney and hired some of Disneyland's first employees: set designers, artists, special effects technicians, talent and suppliers. Among them he hired "Brett Smithers and Bill Vanburgh in the form of a contract to provide Disneyland with souvenirs. Though Smithers and Vanburgh had absolutely no experience with either amusement parks or souvenirs, they hastily incorporated a new business, named American Souvenirs, Inc., and a few days later possessed a contract, signed by C. V. Wood, to be the exclusive provider of trinket souvenirs to both Disneyland itself and the various leased stores inside the park.... Woody justified his decision by claiming one distributor was necessary for the "strictest control of the source, appearance, quality and design" of souvenirs...".1

Things went well for a time, souvenirs were made and readied for the park. But soon evidence that the agreement had serious issues went public. Based on published accounts and court filings, shortly after the park opened, Wood and the Disneys parted ways. The fate of American Souvenirs Inc. appeared to be much the same as they filed suit in early 1956 claiming contract problems that began before the park even opened.2 Because of this short-lived relationship, collectors with an appreciation for the Original Disneyland Park and its "opening day" souvenirs, have a key mark by which to date these desireable early souvenirs. It's a small logo that tells them they have found a very early and very collectable bit of history featuring the Disneyland souvenir ASI trademark logo. As pictured on this page, the ASI mark is a triangular logo or hallmark, shaped in a rounded triangle much like the Disneyland railroad track and berm that bordered the original Disneyland park. The center of the logo features the letters "ASI" for American Souvenirs Inc. cascading down the inside left of the triangle. A welcome sight of beauty for those Disneyana Fans who have long searched for it. (Note: For attribution, relative / chronological dating purposes, AMERICAN SOUVENIRS, INC. incorporation date was 07/21/1954, the contract with the Disney brothers was reportedly signed July 24, 1954 and the suit between ASI and Disny was filed on Monday, March 26, 1956, sometime after the parties' dispute bagan. I have no conformations, but some knowledgeable people have said that the agreement had, in principle, ended before the park opened giving ASI trademarked merchandise a pre-opening date of manufacture by default.)

The American Souvenirs Inc, ASI logo hallmark, is present on several souvenirs displayed on our page of Disneyland sterling silver souvenir spoons. Souvenir ASI hallmarked spoons were waiting to greet Disneyland guests at the 1955 opening. Slightly later examples of the same items were nearly identical, but missing that very early ASI logo. Even after the ASI logo was no longer present, a © 1954 Walt Disney Productions still remained. Eventually the "1954" was also removed from the hallmarks leaving only "STERLING © Walt Disney Productions". Of interest is an early Disneyland acrylic store display that holds four silverware items each of which have had their "1954" hallmark mechanically removed before they were encased for display. (Not born with a silver spoon in your mouth? It's not too late to get one! :-)

 

Some published news about the breakup:

$2,700,000 DAMAGES ASKED OF WALT DISNEY
San Bernardino Sun,
Volume 62, Number 179, March 27, 1956.

LOS ANGELES Walt Disney Monday was sued for $2,700,000 damages in connection with the, sale of souvenirs and novelties at his nearby Disneyland amusement park. American Souvenirs, Inc., filed the suit in Superior Court, claiming it holds an exclusive contract to sell Disneyland souvenirs to the stores and stands at the Anaheim amusement park. The complaint alleges that Disney and others have trie'd to induce manufacturers to cease doing business with American souvenirs. The suit asks $2,000,000 actual damages, $600,000 for loss of profits and $100,000 punitive damages.



Souvenir Firm Suing Disney For $2,700,000
The Billboard, pages 82 and 107 April 7, 1956

ANAHEIM, Calif -A suit for $2,700,000 damages over the sale of souvenirs and novelties at Disneyland here was filed against Walt Disney Monday (26).
The suit was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles by American Souvenirs, Inc., which charges that it holds an agreement signed July 24, 1954, and modified April 11, 1955. Under the agreement it is claimed that the souvenir company had exclusive rights to sell the park's souvenirs and novelties to the retail stores and stands within the park.

The suit further alleges that shortly before the park opened in July, 1955, Disney and the defendants began a campaign to influence manufacturers not to do business with American Souvenirs. This was done, the suit states, to create the impression that the company did not have an exclusive contract to supply the Disneyland stores.

Disney Rep Comments American Souvenirs seeks $2,000,000 actual damages, $600,000 for loss of profits and $100,000 punitive damages. Contract is reported as being for five years. Alvin Hirsch is the attorney for American Souvenirs, of which William Vanburg (sic) is the president. A representative of Disneyland, commenting on the suit, said, "Our only knowledge of this action has been thru the newspaper story. We have not been served with any legal papers. In the event we are so served our attorneys will study the complaint and will proceed appropiately following the study." Defendants included in the suit are Disneyland, Inc.; Walt Disney Productions; WED Enterprises, Inc.; Frederick Schumacher, Richard Stoval, William DuMoulin and Jack Sayers.

1 From page 109 of "Three Years in Wonderland" The Disney Brother, C. V. Wood,
and the Making of the Great American Theme Park by Todd James Pierce. ISBN 978-1-62846-241-8

2 From: Google Books The Billboard, April 7, 1956
  Related source: C. V. Wood, Wikipedia.



From the April 7, 1956 edition of Billboard: ASI American Souvenirs Inc. Suit against Disney begins on page 82 and concludes on page 107. Also for a smile, read the article at the top of page 82 "Disney Adds Rides To End Long Lines". How would you spend your $2.29 at Disneyland? :-)

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