Animation Art – Collectible Cels and Drawings
It was a Saturday afternoon, back in the days of my youth, and I can still remember handing over my ten cents to the man behind the glass window, then getting a ticket to the greatest afternoon ever. I waltzed right through the theater doors and up to the refreshment stand and handed over my nickel for a Coke. If I was plush with money, I splurged on a five cent bag of popcorn. Scurrying on over to the room where the best afternoon ever would take place, I found a seat in the middle, about halfway back. There I sat, eagerly awaiting the beginning of a Disney film. I knew that real soon, the characters would be dancing before my eyes across the silver screen.
I must have seen all the Disney Cartoon Movies. I particularly remember Peter Pan flying through the air and Donald Duck chasing the children while his uncle threw his money around. What could’ve been better than that? I didn’t know I was poor. In fact, when I was able to attend the movies, I thought I was King.
In the heyday of the cartoon movie, there were hundreds of artists producing drawings and cels for movie producers, and the people who worked at the studios would often take these drawings and cels home by the handful, thinking they would some day be very valuable. Well, they were right. Today I wish some of my relatives would have worked for Disney and brought me home a hundred or so of these cels and drawings.
Drawings and Cels from the classic films can bring in the tens of thousands of dollars today. I don’t know the record high, and if anyone else does please let me know, but I’m guessing it would have to be in the hundreds of thousands.
Pieces from the 50’s or earlier will bring the greatest reward. I don’t think I have to tell you to be on the look out for these animated drawings, but be careful. There are drawings and cels being produced today by machine, and these have little value. There were several cartoon producers, but the greatest producer of these films was the Walt Disney Studios.
Let’s take a look at how the older cels were made. First, the artist would sketch the drawings and then these were photographed on to celluloid. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of these celluloid “pages” called “cels” for each feature length film. Each movement a character made had to be drawn, so that when they were put in sequence, you could see the action. This was a lengthy process, and even in the early days, it was an expensive process. Both the drawings and the cels are in great demand today.
The great thing about this merchandise is that most people wouldn’t know a machine made piece from an original. This is where you come in. Find a place where you can familiarize yourself with the originals, and when the time comes to find the treasure that others miss, you’ll have the knowledge to recognize it. If you’re on vacation in a large city, look for galleries that specialize in Animated Art, and don’t leave until you ask every question you can think of and have received an answer you can understand. This knowledge can mean big bucks to you in the future. Believe it or not, some of the best pieces I’ve ever bought were from auctions where everyone in attendance thought these items were new.
How things have changed since the time I paid my five cents for a movie. At the age of nine or ten, I picked up cola bottles and sold them as a way to pay for a special day at the movies. I walked to the movie house because my folks didn’t even own a car until I was twelve. I don’t think it even occurred to me to ask for money to see a movie, not to mention a ride to the movie house.
Movies were a real treat back then, while today, my 9-year-old son has numerous discs he can just pop in the television and have a movie whenever he wants one. Yes, I think people my age yearn for those olden days, the days when things seemed to have more value. Maybe this is one of the problems today — a lack of appreciation. Sitting there in that theater and watching a feature movie and a couple of cartoons made my afternoon one of the most memorable days of the year. I wonder what makes our kids’ days memorable.
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