Mirror, mirror on the wall, what is the greatest Disney memorabilia investment of them all?

Ask anyone to name a famous animator and the answer is invariably the same. Walt Disney.

Yet while Disney's name is synonymous with feature length animation, it's actually nearly 45 years since his death.

In December 1966 Disney passed away leaving a note which simply said "Kurt Russell," a rumour confirmed by Russell in a recent interview.

Since 1966, Disney has gone from strength to strength.

This week the company posted a net profit, of £820 million ($1.3 billion) for the period of three months up to July 3 which is almost a third up on last year's figures.

These figures have been partially fuelled by the box office takings of recent films like Toy Story 3.

But Disney's success and popularity also remains firmly rooted in their history.

With over fifty animated films made in the space of seventy years Disney are recognised as the Premier producers of the last century.

A Walt Disney signed photograph

And it's this seventy year legacy that has created a market of nostalgic memorabilia that is proving equally popular with fans and collectors.

According to the PFC40 Autograph index, a signed photograph of Walt Disney could have been bought for £450 ($670) in 2000.         
Today that same photograph would be worth £3,950 ($5,925), an increase in value of 777.8%.

And some signed photographs are even more valuable with one truly unique 10x8 matte-finish photo of Disney reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland now available for £4,950 ($7,425).

Based on the growth in value of Disney's signed photographs over the last decade, this piece offers an ideal starting point for anyone interested in collecting Disney memorabilia.

Yet when it comes to Disney collectibles, there is little to match an investment in collecting rare Disney celluloid.

The continued popularity of Disney's animation legacy, coupled with the finite amount of these celluloids makes them ideal purchases for Disney collectors and investors alike.

Fantasia marked an early film
appearance for Mickey Mouse

Combining art and nostalgia, celluloid was used in the creation of the iconic feature length Disney films throughout the golden age of the company's animation production.

And the good news is that the market for rare Disney celluloid is positively booming.

Back in June 2000, Sotheby's hosted the sale of a Walt Disney celluloid featuring Mickey Mouse from "Fantasia."

As one of the original Disney feature length animations, the film has enjoyed enduring popularity, having been re-released an additional eight times.

The framed multi-cell "set up" depicted the then relatively new character of Mickey Mouse bailing water during the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence.

Carrying an estimated price of £12,600 ($20,000), the celluloid sold for £22,325 ($35,250).

In November 2004, Bonhams also hosted the sale of rare celluloid from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Pre-dating Fantasia by three years, the film is arguably even more popular and enduring to fans. And four years on from the Fantasia sale, this was reflected in the sale price of £28,280 ($44,650).

Prices continued to go up in 2005, when a painted celluloid from the classic 101 Dalmatians also appeared at Sotheby's in New York.

The signed 101 Dalmations celluloid

Signed by Walt Disney "To John Jr. All the Best Wishes Walt Disney" the piece sold for £40,800 ($61,200).

The price was remarkable given that it had a pre auction estimate of just £4,000 ($6,000). Yet it was not a complete surprise given the growth of celluloid memorabilia.

Investing in golden era celluloid has clearly proven a wise choice. Especially given that these prices are already five to ten years old.

But the celluloid boom hasn't just affected Walt Disney era animated productions.

Back in 1993, Sotheby's hosted the sale of a two cell "set up" celluloid from the modern Disney production, Aladdin.

Aladdin is one of the most
successful Disney films of all time

The 1992 film has so far grossed over £319m ($504m) worldwide and is the third most successful traditionally animated film of all time.

It depicted the famous "Genie" voiced by Robin Williams, radiating magic swirls as he becomes free at the climax of the film and carried an estimated price of £4,000 ($6,000).

However, the auction house clearly underestimated the value of such a piece again, as the collectible sold for £50,350 ($79,500).

Today, it remains the world record price for Disney celluloid. But some seventeen years on from that sale, the market for these collectibles is set for big changes.

With the continued and growing success of computer animated productions like Toy Story and Shrek, Disney has moved further and further away from traditional animation productions.

Yet the enduring popularity of classic Disney productions remains strong, thanks to new generations of viewers who are able to access these works through mediums like DVD.

To date Disney have sold 3 million copies of Aladdin on DVD, while the Blu-Ray release of Snow White occupied Amazon's number one seller spot in the month of its release.

And with a back catalogue of over 50 years worth of feature length iconic animated productions continuing to appear through home entertainment mediums, the appeal of Disney celluloid is unlikely to diminish.

With the fiftieth anniversary of Walt Disney's passing to come and titles like "The Jungle Book" and "Beauty and the Beast" yet to make an impact on the market it's an exciting time to be investing in cartoons.

More importantly for collectors, it's a lot of fun.


Join our readers in 189 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today


Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock