What is Mickey Mouse anyway? Most people will go to great lengths to avoid rodents, but this particular rodent has been popular around the world for almost 100 years.
He has appeared in over 130 films, starring in numerous films, and serves as a mascot for one of the world’s most successful companies. Hewon won an Oscar in 1942 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1978. Not bad for a half-dressed rat relationship with white gloves and big yellow feet.
And of course, Mickey is one of the most licensed cartoon characters and has graced such diverse products as watches, handbags, sneakers, and coffee mugs. Heck, even I love Mickey Mouse. So how did he do it?
In 1925, a 24-year-old Walt Disney was working as an artist in Kansas City when he came up with the idea for an animated mouse. As the story goes, he’s been inspired by the kindness of a tame mouse in his office, and maybe that’s even true. Anyway, his early versions were called Mortimer but his wife didn’t like him and encouraged a name change. Three years later, the newly renamed Mickey made his film debut in a short cartoon titled “Steamboat Willie”. Her appeal was instantaneous, aided by the emerging film media, and the first non-human movie star was born.
In 1929, Disney was approached by a manufacturer of writing tablets seeking to spruce up their line. He asked if Disney would allow Mickey to decorate their products in exchange for $ 300. Delighted with the offer, Mickey’s creator agreed, and the big-eared mouse became the very first character to be fired.
A year later, Disney connected with famous German manufacturer Steiff and a three-dimensional Mickey Mouse was born. And despite the onset of the Depression, Disney’s licensing success continued with the introduction in 1933 of the legendary Mickey Mouse watch by the Ingersol-Waterbury Company. Countless articles followed.
In the high end of the collectibles market, some Mickey Mouse items made over the years can fetch mind-boggling amounts of money. Original Mickey Pez dispensers can sell for $ 500 and up, while a 1930s poster can fetch several thousand. If you’re lucky enough to have a 75th Birthday Mickey Mouse figure dressed as Elton John, you might be sitting on a $ 50,000 statuette. And there is actually a Mickey Mouse figure made from 100 pounds of solid gold. Ordered by the Walt Disney Company in honor of its founder’s 100th birthday, it will set you back $ 4 million.
For the rest of us, Mickey Mouse collectibles run the gamut of merchandising, and the demand for the first Mickey Mouse faces has never been greater. On eBay alone, there are over 300,000 lists of Mickey Mouse items, including original animated cells, full Disney $ 172 collections, and first volumes of Disney-signed Mickey Feats.
Despite the large number of listings, most don’t need a massive checkbook to buy. Many versions of vintage Mickey can be had for the price of a modest dinner, and specialist collections can be built over time at surprisingly modest cost. Almost every antique dealer (including ours) will have an assortment of Mickey Mouse early items, and there are Mickey Mouse notice boards and fan clubs around the world that can provide expertise and advice. So what’s not to love about Mickey Mouse? Obviously nothing.
Mike Rivkin and his wife, Linda, are longtime residents of Rancho Mirage. For many years he was an award winning catalog editor and wrote seven books as well as countless articles. Now he is the owner of the Palm Springs Antique Galleries. His antiques column appears on Saturdays in The Desert Sun. Want to send Mike a question about antiques? Drop him a line at [email protected].
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