Original Disney art and rare Mickey Mouse scooter toy among the top lots in Hakes auction

A beautiful, full-color catalog packed with tantalizing early comic character items brought out the bidders in Hake’s Americana & Collectibles’ Auction No. 193, which closed for bidding on Jan. 31. Original pen-and-ink artwork for a pair of Sunday comic pages dated March 7, 1937 led the lineup of 2,307 premium lots, selling for $51,750 (inclusive of 15 percent buyer’s premium). The lot consisted of a Mickey Mouse strip by Floyd Gottfredson and an Al Taliaferro-drawn Silly Symphonies strip featuring Donald Duck, each measuring 17 inches by 27 inches.

Another important example of original art was the 9½-inch by 12-inch sheet of animation paper with 16 pencil sketches of a long-billed Donald Duck. The sheet was marked “Wise Little Hen,” referring to the 1934 Disney Silly Symphony cartoon in which the irascible duck in sailor’s jacket and hat made his animation debut. The lot sold for $34,500.

Art of another form, a 27-inch by 41-inch linen-mounted poster for the Oct. 17, 1927 Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon Great Guns also well exceeded expectations, settling at $23,000. Marvelous in its simplicity, the ultra-desirable Disney poster features Oswald in a World War I doughboy’s helmet, preparing to fire off a miniature cannon.

While graphic design made a powerful statement regarding its strength in the marketplace, results showed that early comic character toys, figurines and superhero items are also booming. An extremely rare circa-1931 celluloid and tin Mickey Mouse on Scooter wind-up toy with its even rarer pictorial box streaked to a winning bid of $37,041.73. Manufactured by Nifty and distributed by George Borgfeldt & Co., the Japanese-made toy with a Walt E. Disney copyright was described in Hake’s catalog as “the rarest boxed Mickey mechanical toy we’ve offered in four decades.”

Alex Winter, general manager of Hake’s, described the scooter’s selling price – which made triple the reserve – as “certainly the big surprise of the auction. We knew it was rare and the best one known with its box, and I felt $20,000 to $25,000 would not be unrealistic, but rarity and condition were the key here. It was one of those things that collectors knew they might not see again in that condition, so some who wanted to own an example of this toy obviously felt it was the right time to buy.”

Of the character bisques offered, top honors went to a German-made set of five figurines based on the very early Winsor McKay comic strip Little Nemo, which ran in the New York Herald and William Randolph Hearst’s New York American in the second decade of the 20th century. The set of bisques, with movable arms and detailing to replicate the distinctive features of characters Little Nemo, Princess, Flip, Doctor Pill and Imp, was pictured in the May 1914 issue of the toy trade publication Playthings. In its day, the set probably had a wholesale price equaling today’s typical pocket change. In Hake’s January 2008 sale, the complete set, with provenance from the Gary Selmonsky collection, brought $22,412.10.

The initial selection of auction items from the renowned Craig Warren Batman collection created a ripple of excitement felt throughout the sale. A 19-inch-long molded-plastic Batmobile with Batman and Robin passenger figures, presented in its original open-display box, achieved $2,993.83. Bringing almost as much money with a closing price of $2,706 was a 10½-inch Ideal hand puppet of Robin the Boy Wonder marketed in 1966. With a bright and clean vinyl head and silkscreen-printed body, the puppet was accompanied by its original red and yellow box with an image of a masked Robin above a Gotham City skyline. Alex Winter confirmed that much more will be coming from the Craig Warren collection in future Hake’s sales. “We had a great response, and we’re ready to roll out another big batch for next time.” Winter said Batman is a character whose appeal to collectors has never waned. “The TV show was so special to so many people, and the continued release of Batman movies keeps it in collectors’ minds. Batman is not quite Mickey Mouse, but he’s a character almost everyone recognizes.”

While the Caped Crusader made a big impression with bidders in the Jan. 29-31 Hake’s auction, Superman certainly was not be denied. A rare 5½-inch-tall wood composition promotional figure of the Man of Steel, designed by Wayne Boring, flew to $6,352; while an example of the rarest variety of 1941 Superman Secret Chamber premium ring realized $4,312.50.

A division of Geppi’s Entertainment Auctions, Hake’s – which is now in its 41st year – has enhanced its business model to cater to the preferences of today’s buyer. To augment the quarterly cataloged auctions containing higher-end comic character collectibles and art, the company now e-mails a weekly fixed-price sales list to those who sign up for the feature online at www.hakes.com. “These lists have become very popular,” said Winter.
“There’s no auction competition or buyer’s premium, and most of the items are priced under $1,000, with many in the $50 to $300 range.”

To consign articles to a future Hake’s sale or for additional information on upcoming auctions, call tollfree 1-866-404-9800 or e-mail [email protected] View full prices realized from Auction No. 193 online at www.hakes.com.