Disney collectibles are memorabilia and collectibles associated with the Walt Disney company, especially those connected with the organisation’s iconic cartoons. Disney memorabilia is sometimes referred to as ‘Disneyana’.
Walt Disney was acutely aware of the benefits of merchandising and advertising. He began licensing the use of his first hit character, Mickey Mouse, very early on, producing merchandise. Even during the depression, items featuring the famous cartoon mouse were enjoyed and bought across America, indicating the success of the enterprise.
The company continued to market their characters assiduously, and the first feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was accompanied by a mass of merchandise. Everything from dolls to tea sets to drinking glasses to soap, was produced and sold to market the film.
The trend continued with all of Disney’s classic children’s films, and this genius for marketing resulting in a wealth of collectibles produced over the last century. This makes Disney collecting rewarding, affordable, and widespread.
Many different kinds of Disney collectibles are available to collectors, for all interests and price brackets. While children may begin collecting pencil cases and dolls, affluent adults are also collecting the more high-end investment grade items, such as original art cells used in the Disney movies and similar. Some examples of Disney collectibles include but are not limited to:
- Original drawings
- Replica models
- Original Art Cells
The rarer items of memorabilia, limited edition merchandise, the very earliest collectibles, and the original artwork produced for the films, are the most sought-after and valuable.
Starting out as a collector, especially on a budget, one might consider collecting Disney pins, buttons, dolls, t-shirts, coins, stamps, snow globes, figurines, pens, key chains etc.
Most Disney collectors choose to specify somehow. This could be for example in early Disney, pre-WWII, or Disney princesses, or Disney villains. Many focus on a favourite character such as Mickey Mouse. Others may focus on one type of merchandise, such as paper cups, plush toys, mechanical banks, clocks, cookie jars, or any of the endless array of items available.
There are many collectors clubs and online forums for Disney collecting all over the world – join one to share information, trade items, and discuss your collection.
Disney collectibles are as popular with adults as they are children. This is partly due to the baby boomer generation, buying up Disney collectibles that they owned, or wanted to own, as young children.
Much of the interest lies in nostalgia, and the memories of the cartoons and entertainment of youth.
The popularity of Disney collectibles prompted the company to launch its own auction branch in 2000, in conjunction with eBay. The offshoot closed in 2009.
The largest Disneyana collection in the world is owned by the Walt Disney Studios themselves, and is called the Walt Disney Archives. The owners are dedicated to preserving and celebrating unique and valuable items of museum-quality Disney memorabilia.
A letter from Walt Disney to Mickey Mouse co-creator Ub Iwerks in 1924 sold for $241,500 at a Profiles in History Walt Disney memorabilia auction in May 2011. In the letter, Disney asks Iwerks to come work for him at his Hollywood studio. Iwerks created Mickey Mouse alongside Walt Disney in 1928.
A Mickey Mouse poster from 1932 sold for $35,850 at Heritage Auctions in 2011.
In 2010 a 12-foot replica of the submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea made $1,200 at a William Bunch auction in 2010.
In 2009, the original Floyd Gottfredson art for a 29 April 1934 Mickey Mouse Sunday newspaper comic strip sold for $31,070.
A United Artists poster advertising The Mad Doctor, a Disney Mickey Mouse film from 1933, sold for $138,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2006, beating its $80,000 high-side estimate.
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