QUESTION: When the Collegeville Costume Company opened its doors in the 1920's, costumes were not part of their plan. What was their original specialty?
We return today to the exciting exploration of the masks displayed in our Toy Box. Yes, we immerse into the world of the ninja. The generic ninja, since this blog is inspired by the Collegeville Costume Company masks in our collection and CCC was famous for making generic characters. So, the ninja. If you know anything about 15th century Japanese figures - and who doesn't? - you are certainly familiar with the samurai. The noble warrior devoted to fighting for the honor of his clan or lord. At different times in Japanese history, up to ten percent of the population were samurai. Less prolific, less respected, but certainly not less cool by today's standards were the ninja. Generally recruited from the lower classes, ninja took on jobs that samurai would have considered less honorable, such as sabotage and infiltration. The spy stuff that works better under the veil of darkness.
History is fascinating, and the family dramas, fighting and power plays that occurred over the years, decades and centuries can make it extremely confusing, regardless of whether you're learning about goings on in America, Europe or anywhere else in the world. Japanese history is no exception to any of this. During the Sengoku period (spanning from the 15th through the 17th centuries), the Emperor of Japan did not maintain strong control of his islands, so different clans struggled to dominate their regions. While the samurai fought their wars on fields of battle, ninja were trained to steal information from the enemy, to gain the advantage through more underhanded means. This internal chaos essentially ended when the Tokugawa shogunate unified the warring tribes in 1603, but the legends of the ninja remained. Soon enough, ninja were described as being able to walk on water and control the natural elements under a supernatural veil of invisibility. Or, more importantly, convince their neighbors to give them candy on Halloween. For really, as far as we're concerned here at the American Treasure Tour, the ninja costume is pretty much where it's at.
ANSWER: B) Flags. They were initially called Collegeville Flag and Manufacturing Company and used leftover fabric from their flags to create costumes.