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Rare Disney Art to Be Sold at Auction

Auction house Bonhams announces the forthcoming sale of rare animation artifacts, including include concept artwork, three-dimensional maquettes, animation drawings and cels from Disney.

Oswald the Rabbit in 'Poor Papa'

Los Angeles -- On May 4 & 5, Bonhams will hold an auction of Entertainment Memorabilia featuring items representing the best of traditional animation, as well as original vintage comic and cartoon artwork. These magical artifacts from the era predating computer graphics include concept artwork, three-dimensional maquettes, animation drawings and cels.

Walt Disney Studios’ preeminence in the field of animation is reflected in a broad selection of rare and unique “Disneyana.” The earliest item in the section is a 16mm print of Disney’s Poor Papa (1928) ($15,000-20,000), the very first Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon and one of only three prints of the film known to exist. Original artwork by some of the studio's most influential artists include concept paintings by Eyvind Earle from Sleeping Beauty, depicting key images of the elegantly evil Maleficent ($9,000-12,000), and of the gallant Prince Philip dueling with Maleficent in dragon form ($8,000-12,000). Several outstanding paintings by famed Disney designer Mary Blair include a study of Alice chatting with the Caterpillar, newly metamorphosed into a butterfly, in Alice in Wonderland ($8,000-12,000), and another capturing one of Disney’s greatest fairy tale moments, the Fairy Godmother magically turning a pumpkin into a coach in Cinderella ($7,000-9,000).

Mary Blair concept painting from 'Alice in Wonderland'

Maquettes were created to give animators a three-dimensional reference for the character's physical appearance as well as their expressions. These models were usually discarded after production wrapped, and the few that survive are almost exclusively in Walt Disney Productions’ archives, making these statuettes highly desirable. Bonhams is proud to offer two maquettes in this auction, one of the nefarious Stromboli from Pinocchio ($5,000-6,000) and one of a Centaur from Fantasia ($4,000-6,000).

Walt Disney studios production celluloid from 'Pinocchio'

Bonhams is also pleased to offer prime examples of Disney’s exquisite celluloids and the drawings they were inked from, stretching all the way back to a sketch from the classic The Skeleton Dance (1929) ($500-700). From Disney’s first feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, come celluloids of Snow White with one of her woodland friends ($5,000-7,000) and the charming Dopey ($2,000-3,000), along with numerous animation drawings from the film (estimates vary). Other quintessential Disney cels include Dumbo and Timothy Mouse from Dumbo ($5,000-7,000), along with Pinocchio with donkey ears ($3,000-4,000) and the endearing Jiminy Cricket ($2,500-3,000) from Pinocchio.

In conjunction with its animation art offering, Bonhams will present an assortment of vintage comic strip and cartoon artwork evoking the heyday of syndicated comics and elaborate Sunday strips. Highlights include an October 1952 4-panel “Pogo” daily strip by the legendary Walt Kelly, which Kelly presented to a fan ($1,000-1,500); a “Flintstones” daily strip and a Donald Duck Sunday page ($300-400); many “Moon Mullins” strips by Frank Willard and Ferd Johnson (estimates vary); Merrill Blosser “Freckles and His Friends” dailies ($400-600); a “Toonerville Trolley” by Fontaine Fox and a strip by Cliff Sterrett of “Polly and Her Pals” ($400-600).

Preview days for the Entertainment Memorabilia including Animation Art auction are Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3 from 10am to 5pm.

The fully illustrated online catalog for this auction is available at

Source: Bonhams

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.