Disney’s Magic Kingdom of Collectibles

Editor’s Note: There are collectibles, and then there are Disney collectibles. Mickey, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Little Mermaid—these keepsakes go across so many generations and bring such happiness to them. Learn more about Disney collecting.

Walt Disney once said, “We’re interested in doing things that are fun, in bringing pleasure, particularly laughter, to people.” His company has achieved this so splendidly that now it’s a rare, remote household that remains unacquainted with at least one or the other of Disney characters, and there’s a growing global network of collectors infected with the pleasure principal of doing things that are fun . . . like collecting Disney collectibles or Disneyana.

Types of Disney collectibles—What to choose

The thing with collecting Disneyana— a popular term covering all Disney collectibles —is that it’s too easy to get bewitched. So where do you start? What do you collect? Should you collect for pleasure or for investment?

Collecting for pleasure is where you buy items you personally crave and collecting for investment is where you collect items you hope other people will eventually crave. Nothing wrong with the investment aspect—although you do have to keep your purchase in mint, boxed, sealed condition with sales receipts, labels and stickers intact, and there is something rather comical about a well-preserved, unopened box traveling the whole A-to-Z collectors gamut at increasing cost—but as Walt Disney said about Disneyland, “[It] is a work of love. We didn’t go into [it] just with the idea of making money.” So why not have some joy alongside? Collect two of an item—one for now and one for the rainy rich day.

Collect by character, movie or product. Or by theme parks, rides and attractions. Here are some collectibles to consider—

Glass, crystal, porcelain and plastic figurines
Music and movie CDs/DVDs/tapes/records
Books, comics, park maps, Disneyland guidebooks and Disney passports
Original Disney artwork, cards, lithographs, serigraphs, animation cels and photographs
Stickers, badges, buttons and pins
Pen, pencils, sharpeners and erasers
Snow globes, coin banks, key chains, bells, candles and license plates
Watches, clocks, lamps, candle holders, ornaments and jewelry

Collectors’ plates, mugs, glasses, cookie jars, salt-and-pepper shakers, fork-and-knife sets, dishes, bowls, cake toppers and egg cups
Toys, puzzles, TV scenes, play sets, gift-box sets, store displays and theme-park souvenirs
T-shirts, dresses, coats, hats and ties
Towels, napkins, pillows and bed covers
Purses and bags
Paper cups, straws, sugar packets and so on

Disney collectibles—Manufacturers

As with any type of collecting, the more well-informed you are, the better your chances of amassing a notable collection. Research the Disney collectibles that interest you—read books and articles, visit/join collectors Web sites like the Walt Disney Collectors Society, the National Fantasy Fan Club and the Disney Pin Trading, subscribe to their newsletters and interact with other collectors. Find out as much as you can about history, artists, manufacturers, production, product types, materials, editions, prices and authenticity-defining marks or features. Stay tuned to news about upcoming conventions, new limited editions, secondary markets and auctions.

Know that many different licensed vendors produced Disney products over the years, some of the prominent ones being Chad Valley, Hagen-Renaker, Wade, Louis Marx, Harmony Kingdom, Vivid Imaginations, California Originals, Hummels, Lenox, Mattel, Royal Doulton.

The Walt Disney Co. began producing its own line of collectibles in 1992. The Walt Disney Classics Collection includes more than 100 figurines (each coming with a production-year backstamp and a certificate of authentication), the Enchanted Places line (background scenes from Disney animated films) and the Disney Villains Series.

Recommended Disney collectibles—

Disney collectibles fall under vintage (from 1928 to 1968) and contemporary (from 1968 onward) categories. Among those to look out for—

Chad Valley sets featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, first issued in the 1930s and rare and expensive now
The Hagen-Renaker figurines from Snow White, Lady and the Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, Cinderella, Bambi, Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse and Friends, and Fantasia
The Hatbox series of Disney figurines by Wade, introduced in 1956, featuring characters from Lady and the Tramp, Bambi and Friends, 101 Dalmatians, the Sword in the Stone, the Fox and the Hound

Disney Bears—Winnie the Pooh, Koda and Kenai, Baloo, Little John, Gummi Bears, Fozzie Bear, Plush Bear and JoJo
Disney Classics and Disney Traditions from Enesco
Disney Princesses from Lenox

Disney Collectibles—Where to buy

Apart from buying directly from the above-mentioned manufacturers, there are scores of online and offline places where you can shop for collectibles. Start with the Disney Stores at the various Disney parks, many of which cater to collectors and have items unique to that particular park. You can buy in person or over the phone using Disney DelivEars (800-362-4533).

Visit online sites like The Disney Store, Disneyana, GoAntiques and WorthPoint.

Try offline places like gift shops, flea markets, antique markets, garage sales and roadside sales.

What to keep in mind

Buy the best you can within your budget. Having a budget is important as Disneyana can carry you far and away. Prices of Disney collectibles, depending on type, rarity, company and where you’re buying, can range from $15 to more than $1,000.

Check the Worthopedia database here at WorthPoint for how much Disney collectibles sold at past auctions.

When buying online, check the seller’s profile, make sure you have a money-back guarantee, and ask for the item to be well packed and insured before it is shipped.

Take good care of your collection. To quote Disney again—”It’s something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing . . . and adding to.”

WorthPoint—Get the Most from Your Antiques & Collectibles

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  1. Chris Barry says:

    Sandra,

    I write a collecting column for MousePlanet.com. I’m working on a story about Disney and Lenox. Would you have any info on how long Disney and Lenox have been partners? Maybe, what was the first Disney/Lenox piece?

    Thanks for your help.

    Chris