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Winkie Spear from the Wizard of Oz

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the Winkies are a fictional race of people who have been enslaved by the Wicked Witch of the West to do her bidding.[1] Before their enslavement, they were a peaceful group of people who worked mainly as metalsmiths.[2] In the book, the Winkies are portrayed as somewhat cowardly. When the Wicked Witch supplies the Winkies with spears and orders them to “destroy” Dorothy and her friends, Baum explains that “The Winkies were not a brave people, but they had to do as they were told,”.[3]

In the movie The Wizard of Oz, the Winkies are portrayed very differently. Rather than being cowardly servants, they come across as stoic soldiers, dutifully guarding the Wicked Witch’s castle. Their costumes were designed by Gilbert Adrian, who was known simply as Adrian.[4] Although Adrian was familiar with Baum’s book, the original illustrations by John R. Neill were seen as too mundane for the magical whimsy being created in MGM’s version of Oz. Instead, Adrian drew inspiration from his old, childhood notebooks. When The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 Adrian was just a child, and the book quickly became one of his favorites. According to MGM, Adrian had doodled many characters from Oz as a bored student and when he began work on the film he “dispatched a wire to his hometown of Naugatuck, Connecticut, requesting that his box of old schoolbooks, in storage for many years, be shipped post haste to Hollywood…”[5]

Rather than the monochromatic yellow outfits the Winkies wear in Baum’s version of the story, Adrian based his costumes on traditional military uniforms from Eastern Europe like those worn by the hussars.[6] With one simple choice, Adrian transformed Baum’s timid Winkies into menacing creatures of uniformity. In addition to their military garb, the Winkies also carried intimidating spears with them as part of the costume. These spears would have fallen under the jurisdiction of the art department, but it is highly likely that Adrian had some influence at least over their design.[7] Furthering the argument that Adrian took inspiration from the hussars, is the fact that the Winkie spear resembles the intricately designed halberds carried by high ranking hussar officers. Halberds were long battle axes meant to be carried when hussars were in dress uniforms and serve symbolic purposes, similar to function of the spontoon spears carried by officers in the American Revolution.

The Winkie spear from the Mercury Collection is one of the original spears made for the 1939 movie. To create the spearhead, a model was carved out of wood and used to make a sandstone mold. Once the mold was made, the spearheads were cast in aluminum and then painted silver.[8] Each spearhead had a 4-inch iron pin at its base, so it could be inserted into the red staff. The spearhead alone is 32 inches tall, and when added to the staff the full spear is 8 feet tall.

Pictured below is the Winkie Spear from Mercury One’s private collection of artifacts.

 

Sources:

[1] Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Minister Classics. 1900. p. 146.

[2] Baum, p. 160.

[3] Baum, p. 145.

[4] Scarfone, Jay. Stillman, William. The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 MGM Classic. Hal Leonard Corporation. 2004. p. 64.

[5] Scarfone, p. 65.

[6] Scarfone, p. 79.

[7] Scarfone, p. 96.

[8] Scarfone, p. 96.

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