It is said that storks have been associated with delivering babies for centuries, starting with Greek mythology. According to myth, the goddess Hera turned her rival into a stork, after which the stork-woman attempted to steal her son in revenge.
From there the story evolved to one of a more benign nature, where dutiful birds pick up babies from a pond or cave, and then deliver them to expecting parents.
Thanks to the 1941 Disney film called Dumbo, we then have a more dapper and professional looking bird, replete with buttoned vest and cap:
Mr. Stork was Sterling Holloway’s first Disney role. He appeared in Dumbo in a blue uniform but reappeared in Lambert the Sheepish Lion in a red uniform.
This is not an official piece of Disney merchandise. It appears to be a DIY art project completed by a ceramic’s student, likely as a gift for a family member. If you look carefully at the image, above right, you can just about make out the words ‘Mom I love u’. I think.
I found another version of this mold on eBay. It is significantly bigger than the one I’m featuring and has slightly different colouring and pattern. For example, note the little pink flowers on the baby blanket. But the mold is identical. Pottery teachers can buy licensed molds from companies like Disney. These are then used over and over again for multiple students for many years. Therefore, it would be impossible to determine just how many of these things are out there!
The seller of this version claimed that her stork was made by a ceramic artist in the 1990s. Apparently her grandmother ordered it custom because she liked the movie Dumbo so much. It appears to have been personalized as it is signed on the bottom with the words ‘Granny Heather’.
My stork is about 4.5″ high while the one from eBay is about 14″ tall by comparison.
I picked this up at Goodwill for under $2.00 CAN. I knew it wasn’t really the Disney stork as it didn’t have a Disney trademark on it, but I thought it was at least inspired by Mr. Stork, so that was enough for me to add him to my collection!