The Billiken was a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Ms. Florence Pretz of St. Louis, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream. In 1908 she patented the Billiken who was elf-like with pointed ears, a mischievous smile, and a tuft of hair on his pointed head. His arms were short and he was generally sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him. One point on Billiken luck: To buy a Billiken gives the purchaser luck, but to have one given to you is better luck. The Billiken was auspiciously named after the newly elected President of the United States, William Howard Taft. The Billiken was one of the first copyrighted dolls and the first likenesses of the Billiken, banks and statues, were produced in 1909. After a few brief years of popularity, like many other fad toys, the Billiken faded into obscurity. The Billiken should not be confused with baby - like Kewpie figures that debuted in the December 1909 Ladies' Home Journal. Today, the Billiken is the official mascot of Saint Louis University, a Jesuit university, and St. Louis University High, both located in Saint Louis, Missouri. Many current on-line articles about the Billikens are based on an article by anthropologist Dorothy Jean Ray that first appeared in Alaska Sportsman (now Alaska) in 1960, with an updated version in Alaska Journal in 1973.
Billiken came to Japan in 1909.