Where History Meets Art - Stories Behind the Stuff

Mickey Mouse Still Charming as Ever

Mickey Mouse Still Charming as Ever

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Bonhams.

Mickey Mouse made his debut in New York City on Nov. 18, 1928 at the Colony Theater. Steamboat Willie was Walt Disney’s first cartoon talkie.  And Disney wasn’t sure if audiences would accept a talking mouse.  Talkies were new and still a mystery to audiences and movie executives too.   

But the audience did love Mickey.

“It is an ingenious piece of work with a good deal of fun,” wrote the New York Times. “It growls, whines, squeaks and makes various other sounds that add to its mirthful quality.”

Night after night Walt stood at the back of the theater and listened to the audience howl to his cartoon images.

Designed for ease of animation, Mickey was birthed out of two large circles, one for his body the other for his head.  Two smaller circles made up his ears.  Add to that an impish snout, plum-shaped nose, button eyes, a long skinny tail, plump hands and hose-like arms and you have the cartoon character many of us grew up with and dearly loved. 

This human-like black mouse typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves and has become one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in the world.  Some say Mickey was Walt Disney’s alter ego, a quick-witted, shy, adventurous soul. 

How Mickey came to be is steeped in legend.  Walt said he dreamed up the character on a train trip to Los Angeles.  He wanted to name his cartoon character Mortimer but his wife Lilly coaxed him to go with Mickey.  He also hinted the mouse idea came from a pet mouse that played around his drawing board as he worked. 

Both stories are based in fact but the actual Mickey Mouse character came to life through a partnership between Walt who envisioned Mickey’s personality and Ub Iwerks, who gave the mouse form and the ability to move.

Mickey Mouse went on to star in more than 130 films.  Nine of Mickey's cartoons were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.  Mickey often appears alongside his sweetie Minnie Mouse, his dog Pluto and friends Horace Horsecollar, Donald Duck, and Goofy.

Need I say Disney collectors love their collections.  Some focus on a particular figurine like Mickey.  Others hunt for Goofy or maybe Snow White or Minnie.  Still other collectors look for plush figures from one particular park like Disneyland or Disneyworld.  Or maybe they acquire Disney books, banks, snow globes or watches. 

If you’re collecting for future investment purposes it’s best to keep Disney items in the same condition in which you purchased them.  That includes keeping the price tags and any Disney tags.  If a packaged item has never been opened, that’s even better.

Condition is everything.  It's important to buy the very best example you can find, but this is especially important when buying newer collectibles.  It’s also important to think about refining your collection. 

On Jan. 30 Bonhams, San Francisco, featured “Disneyana Including Other Fine Toys & Collectibles” auction.  Here are some current values for vintage Disney items.

Disney

Cowboy Mickey; Knickerbocker; cloth; boxed; 1930s; 12 inches high;  $1,500.

Lunch Kit; Mickey Mouse; depicts Silly Symphonies graphics with early pie-eyed Mickey and characters; contains internal kit;  $2,000.

Mickey on Pluto; celluloid toy; by Modern Toys; occupied Japan; original box and paper label; 5 inches tall;  $3,125.

Train; Lionel #1536; scarce boxed 1930s era train with clockwork engine with Mickey stoker; and three lithographed circus cars;  $5,250

Postage Stamps; first day stamps from various countries; 30 binders; depict events within Disney and Disney World Space Exploration; Calvary Olympics; Disney Classics Fairy Tales; post 1970s era collectibles;  $6,875.       

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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