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‘Exploring the Disney Universe’ auction traces Disney history

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

The latest (and largest) Disney auction from L.A.-based Van Eaton Galleries – “Exploring the Disney Universe” – traces 100 years of Disney history, including original animation artwork and cels, original Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle theme park artwork, and even a Goofy costume character head.

Exploring the Disney Universe auction - Snow White cel
Images courtesy of Van Eaton Galleries

Day 1 of Van Eaton Galleries’ “Exploring the Disney Universe” auction will be Dec. 3, 2022, when 723 items will be on the block; Day 2 will be Dec. 4, 2022, with 836 items. Bidding will begin at 9:45 a.m. PST on both days. Click here for the entire auction catalog.

These are a few of the treasures from Day 1 of the “Exploring the Disney Universe” auction:

An original production cel of the Hag (with matching Production Background) from the 1:14:17 mark of Walt Disney’s 1937 Feature Film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” as the Hag presents the Poison Apple to Snow White (Item 82). The cel is estimated to sell for $40,000-$50,000. Also up for sale on Day 1 is an extremely rare original 1950 production cel of Cinderella in her pumpkin coach from Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” (Item 208), estimated to sell for $3,000-$5,000.

Mary Blair artwork, including an original 1950 concept painting for Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” (Item 205), estimated to sell for $20,000 – $30,000; an original 1951 concept painting for “Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland” (Item 222), estimated to sell for $10,000-$20,000, and an original 1953 concept painting for Walt Disney’s “Peter Pan” (Item 227) estimated to sell for $10,000-$20,000.

Exploring the Disney Universe auction - Mary Blair Cinderella artwork

Extremely rare Ub Iwerks production drawings, including Oswald The Lucky Rabbit from the 1928 Disney short “Rival Romeos” (Item 2) and from the first short in the “Silly Symphony” series, “The Skeleton Dance” (Item 23). Each is estimated to sell for $3,000-$5,000.

An incredibly rare 16-piece “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Earthenware Breakfast Set created by Wade Potteries (Wade Heath) in 1938 (Item 99). This is one of the most complete sets to come before auction, with four small glasses with tray, two condiment jars, a teapot, a coffee pot, creamer pot, porridge bowl, container with handle, one plate, two butter dishes (including the rare Dwarf’s Cottage) and even the scarcely-seen music box water pitcher, and is estimated at $800-$1,000.

Exploring the Disney Universe auction - Snow White tea set

These are some of the highlights from “Exploring the Disney Universe” Day 2:

An early 1954 original concept drawing by Herb Ryman for the Hub Restaurant and True-Life Adventure entrance at Disneyland estimated at $25,000-$35,000 (Item 1029), an original 1965 concept painting created by Disney Legend Mary Blair for It’s a Small World at Disneyland estimated at $15,000-$20,000 (Item 1297), and an original 1957 concept painting by Eyvind Earle for the Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough attraction at Disneyland estimated at $12,000-$15,000 (Item 1272).

Exploring the Disney Universe auction - Herb Ryman concept art

An extremely rare Minarik electric guitar that was custom-built in 2019 for the 50th Anniversary of the Haunted Mansion (Item 1194). Only 13 of these guitars were built, with the features of each one-of-a-kind guitar being unique to that instrument; this one (numbered “3”) is estimated at 18,000-$20,000.

An incredibly rare 1990s-era Goofy character head from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World estimated to sell for $4,000-$6,000 (Item 1425).

An extremely rare pair of 1970s-90s park-used Tiki Room and Tahitian Terrace Props (Item 1053) – an original prop figure of Kane the sun god displayed at Tahitian Terrace and a Tangaroa Baby that was part of the Walt Disney Enchanted Tiki Room pre-show – estimated at $2,000-$4,000.

Exploring the Disney Universe auction - Tiki Room props

Of all the items included in the auction, Van Eaton Galleries describes one in particular – A comprehensive archive of documents related to the loan application and appraisal of Disneyland performed for Bank of America (Item 651; estimated at $40,000-$50,000) – as “truly an amazing piece of Disneyland History.” The auction house also notes that they’ve “never seen such detailed documents offered for sale.”

(Disneyland, 1955 through 1958) A comprehensive archive of documents related to the loan application and appraisal of Disneyland performed for Bank of America and rescued from destruction by Richard Rawson. The appraisals include an “as is” valuation (prior to park expansion) and a separate valuation upon completion of the expansion. Excerpts from the Title Policy, dated Apr. 1, 1955, include the legal descriptions of land parcels acquired to create Disneyland Park. These are actual documents used by Bank of America to value and perform its analyses for loan underwriting purposes. The lot contains two binders and other documents, many of which were created by December of 1958. One binder contains schedules relating to income, real estate, renovations, leases, income from Disneyland Lessees and lease terms, and other capital. The other binder contains “News from Disneyland” releases spanning 1957 to 1958, Bank of America appraisals of livestock, lists of licensed vehicles and equipment, and reports regarding insurance policies for various parcels owned by Disneyland, Inc. In addition to the binders are numerous hand-written pages related to parcels of land around the periphery of the park, and other notes. Incredibly detailed and comprising well over 100 pages of documentation, the appraisal accounts for every part of the park down to the livestock. Also included are individual sheets with estimated costs for new attractions including the Monorail, Submarine Voyage, Matterhorn Mountain, and Bob Sled Ride, and other ride expansions including Fantasyland Autopia. The binders measure 11.75″x11.75″ and 3″ wide, while the large folders measure 13″x10.5″. The folders, binders, and contents are in overall very good condition, exhibiting creases, and wear to edges and corners, common to ephemera of a similar vintage. Truly an amazing piece of Disneyland History, we have never seen such detailed documents offered for sale.

“Exploring the Disney Universe” auction catalog description

Preview dates for the “Exploring the Disney Universe” auction are now through Dec. 2, 2022, at Van Eaton’s new gallery in Studio City, Calif. The auction will take place Dec. 3-4, 2022, both online and in-person. Click here for details.

Check out our video from a previous Van Eaton Galleries auction:

'Disneyland: The First 65 Years' auction of rare items and props
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