Saturday, September 24, 2011

Donn Tatum's Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks: Dimidus Asinus Genius

Donn Tatum (1913-1993) was a President of Walt Disney Productions, indeed he was the first President who was not a member of the Disney family. That's his name on the tribute window above Crystal Arts in Disney World.  Having one's name on a window on Main Street USA is of course considered a great Disney park honor.

A few years after his death, some of Tatum's personal Disney memorabilia was auctioned off by S/R Laboratories, an animation art gallery and restorer. At this sale, I discovered and purchased a pair of large blue enamel cufflinks depicting the head of Professor Ludwig von Drake and adorned with the Latin words "Dimidus Asinus Genius." Von Drake is wearing a laurel, as befits a Latin scholar.

Donn Tatum's Ludwig von Drake Cufflinks, Dimidus Asinus Genius

Now I myself am no Latin scholar, but for purposes of expediency I'm going to take it upon myself to translate this arcane phrase as "A Half the Genius of an Ass," which I take to be something of a corporate inside joke. When was the last time American businessmen made Latin jokes in the board room? I take it Tatum must have gone to a private school.

Since this sale some years ago, I've been very curious to learn whether there are other examples of cufflinks like this, but I've never come across anything even remotely similar. It even could be possible they are unique, although I would hazard it more likely that at least a few might have been made available to other Disney honchos, particularly if they were also "geniuses." I'm quite sure these were never offered for sale to the general public, with the exception of course of that one estate sale where I eagerly snatched them up! The thing is, there must be quite an interesting story behind these, but, for the most part, we can only speculate what that might be.  Certainly Disney's top corporate brass had a sense of humor and of humility.

Donn Tatum's Ludwig von Drake Cufflinks, Dimidus Asinus Genius

By the way, I firmly believe all men reading this should get in the habit of wearing shirts with french cuffs, so they can take full advantage of interesting cufflinks when they find them. Yes, my blog offers useful fashion advice, too!

Update October 2, 2011 Update: Today I found a site called Pin Pics which showcases images of Disney pins. Just released this summer for the fiftieth anniversary of Professor Ludwig von Drake is a limited edition (500) pin with this very same design. Wow! My cufflinks have to be between 18 and 50 years old, which means that this design languished somewhere in an enamel workshop for perhaps two decades or more before being reused. This could make sense. It's just possible the cufflinks were designed for von Drakes twenty-fifth anniversary and then the whole thing was reintroduced as a limited edition pin design for his fiftieth.

Here's the information from Pin Pics:

Pin 86408: D23 - 2011 EXPO Professor Ludwig Von Drake GENIUS
Class:Disney Pins
Type:Event Only
Limited Edition:500 Pins
SKU Number:Unknown
Original Price:
Categories:Cartoon/Short film; D23; Series
Members Trading:
Members Wanting:
Described by Walt Disney as "a renowned scientist, lecturer, psychologist and world traveler," Professor Ludwig Von Drake is the leading authority on absolutely everything. Cheerfully absent-minded and ever-oblivious to his surroundings, Ludwig's lectures most often go awry. For this commemorative pin, celebrating Ludwig Von Drake's 50th Anniversary of his premiere on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, the didactic duck makes sure everyone is listening for they may be scolded for their lack of attention. This 6 sided pin shows Professor Ludwig Von Drake wearing a laurel wreath on his head with the words DIMIDUS ASINUS GENIUS. The back has the D23 official symbol and limited edition 500.
Added 2011-09-06 10:34:12, Updated 2011-09-27 18:36:27

October 3, 2011 Update:  I went ahead and purchased this pin on eBay.  I'm sure I overpaid, but I just have to see how it compares to the Donn Tatum cufflinks. Blogging is getting to be expensive.
2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin
I may have to rethink my conviction that the cufflinks were never made available to the general public. I had assumed that the Latin phrase made this a somewhat elitist item suitable only for board members. Apparently I have underestimated the general public's regard for the classics! Either that or the world has changed a lot in 25 years.

October 23, 2011 Update:  Placing the cufflinks and the trading pin side by side yields a new surprise. I had always considered the Ludwig von Drake cufflinks conspicuously large, but they are dwarfed by the limited edition pin!

Side by Side Comparison of Ludwig von Drake
Dimidus Asinus Genius Cufflinks (Top)
and 2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin (Bottom)

Side by Side Comparison of the Backs of Ludwig von Drake
Dimidus Asinus Genius Cufflinks (Top)
and 2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin (Bottom)

Can you provide more information? If you have images of cufflinks or other Disney jewelry in any way similar to these, please get in touch with me through the comments or via the email address associated with this blog. So far, I believe these are the only Ludwig von Drake cufflinks described on the internet, but I'm curious whether more are out there. Similarly, any information about Donn Tatum specifically relating to these cufflinks would be welcome.

Note:  My most recent Disney post is here.



  1. i know i’m a little off topic, but i just wanted to say i love the layout of your blog. i’m new to the blogegine platform, so any suggestions on getting my blog looking nice would be appreciated.

  2. Thanks, Cuff Links. Under the design tab on Blogger there's a device for adding and arranging page elements. You can preview the various options until you get the page layout looking the way you want.

  3. Most likely the "correct" translation is "half-assed genius".

    1. Yes, precisely. The Disney executives were still schoolboys at heart!