Earliest-known Walt Disney drawings to sell at Bonhams



2015-11-13 09:49:32

The earliest-known set of drawings by Walt Disney will be offered for sale at Bonhams later this month.

The auction will offer a collection of memorabilia from Disney's early days in Europe, as a member of the Red Cross.

Having been rejected for military service in WWI due to his age, Disney doctored his own birth certificate and signed up with the Red Cross in 1918. He was sent to France following the Armistice, and spent a year working as an ambulance driver before returning to the U.S  to begin his career as an artist.

Many items originate from the collection of Virginia Baker, Disney's former school classmate who shared his passion for art and with whom he corresponded whilst overseas.

First is a scrapbook dating from late 1918, which features five full pages of cartoons believed to be the earliest set of Disney drawings to ever appear on the market. The sketches include 13 different characters, including a sinister-looking trench rat bearing down over a much smaller soldier, and are signed numerous times.

The highly rare cache of drawings, believed to be the earliest still in private hands, is expected to sell for $150,000-$200,000.  

"We all think of Walt Disney maintaining a child's sense of wonder throughout his life, but it is wonderful to see him in these pages acting like a typical teenager: silly, naughty, and reckless," said Catherine Williamson, Bonhams' Director of Entertainment Memorabilia.

Further highlights from the collection will include the earliest known signed photo of Disney, wearing his Red Cross uniform and taken in 1918-1919, estimated at $25,000-$35,000; and a photo postcard sent to Baker, featuring Disney with his ambulance on one side and a cartoon sketch on the other, estimated at $40,000-$60,000.

The Bonhams 'Treasures from the Dream Factory' sale of classic movie and entertainment memorabilia takes place November 23.

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