Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Clinton J. Holloway


There is a poem in English literature by the title “What All the World Is Made Of” by author Robert Southey (1774-1843). There was a time when every school child knew at least two verses by heart. One of which goes like this:


“What are little boys made of?/Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails/That’s what little boys are made of!”


In the original, “snakes” was “snips” or “snigs,” which was English dialect for a small eel. Other versions include references to frogs or other small, slimy creatures. The point? Boys are made from all sorts of wriggly things. Anyone who has had small boys in their lives would concur with Southey’s assessment!   


We usually do not think of antique and decorating malls, such as GasLamp and GasLamp Too, as being the domain of little boys. However, a closer look will reveal many boys playing hide and seek among the furniture and glassware at the two stores.


As a father of two young boys, I am myself, naturally drawn to the snakes, snails, puppy dog tails and other “boy things.” At Booth B-222, Larry Felts European Arts and Accessories has a 14-inch blackamoor boy on a marble base that caught my eye (photo, above right).


Raggedy Andy, the iconic redheaded doll wearing a sailor suit, was introduced by creator Johnny Gruelle in 1920, a couple of years after his sister, Raggedy Ann. This Raggedy Andy doll, paired with his sister, can be found for $18 for the pair in Booth B-175 at the original GasLamp.


In the photo, left, is a 5-inch figurine of angelic choir boys in Christmas Nostalgia, Booth 232, would be an accurate representation of my own cherubs (wink, wink). Though the truth be told, the masks in B-312, priced at $29-$65 with an astounding 75% off, are probably more representational of my own little guys (photo below)!                


Another pop culture boy is Poppin’ Fresh, more commonly known as the Pillsbury Dough Boy, who first emerged from a can of crescent rolls in 1962. The large Dough Boy cookie jar, issued in 1988, is sure to make you giggle every time you reach into his belly for another cookie (found at Too in Booth T-545 for $49.95 with a 25% discount).


In Booth B-225, we find a representation of the most famous boy of all time, the boy Jesus. A nearly three and a half foot tall antique plaster figure, surely originally from the niche of a church or convent, is priced at $3,685.


The new occupant of Booth B-206 at the original Mall is offering a handsome oil portrait of an unknown young man for $80. Whether he is a portrait of an actual boy or an artist representation of boyish good looks is unknown, but he is sure to be a strong addition to any art collection.


Whether it’s Poppin’ Fresh or Raggedy Andy, the boys at GasLamp remind us of why that rhyme from the early nineteenth century is still apropos today.

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