Dating  Disneyana is often challenging, but there are hundreds of clues to help pinpoint a more exact age. Major indentifying factors include graphic style, nature of the copyright notice, the characters depicted, manufacturer’s name, country where produced, release date of films, and any association with dated pieces. Secondary indentifiers of significance include any incidental characters illustrated, reference to historical events, material used, background attractions appearing on theme park items, or the use of postal zone or Zip code in address appearing on item.

In the past there have been a number of oversimplified guidelines published in general antique books and magazine articles. People have been heard to say; “If it’s copyrighted by Walt Disney Enterprises, it’s old and valuable” ; or “A Mickey Mouse with pie-cut eyes is from the 30’s”. Generally, these statements are true, but there have always been exceptions- and the number is growing.

First, it should be acknowledged that Disneyana has been a popular target for rip-off manufacturers that create unauthorized merchandise. In a similar vain, reproductions of earlier items have been authorized with minor modification. Some one time licensees have used old molds or dies to produce authorized or unauthorized products years later. Specific attention is given to fakes at the appropriate classifications, and at the classification of “Unauthorized Merchandise”.

Counterfeiting of animation art and cels has been going on for years, with authenticating seals just as good looking as the artwork. In a recent Disney court victory it was estimated that an individual created over 18,000 phoney cels.

Secondly, there has been a new wave of the “30’s Mickey”. The biggest confusion may have been created by the “Pop Art” era of the mid-60’s and the decision to re emphasize the pie-cut eyes characters. Around 1970, Mickey and Minnie with the pie-cut eyes were used once again on Colorform playsets, and a wide variety of other merchandise. They were, of course, copyrighted by Walt Disney Productions. It was felt that the copyright notice would be enough to distinguish newer merchandise from the 30’s. Those early items were copyrighted by Walt Disney Enterprises-except for a period in 1939 when original pie-eyed characters were copyrighted by Walt Disney Productions. Certain books from the early 30’s were also copyrighted by “Productions”.

Exceptions to the generally accepted guidelines are many. And knowing that an item is simply from the 30’s isn’t very illuminating anyway.

In keeping with the definitive goals of this catalog, a Disney Time Line has been constructed to broaden the understanding of the many factors that can be used to accurately date Disneyana artifacts.

Excerpt from: Tomart’s illustrated DISNEYANA catalog and price guide Vol One by  Tom Tumbusch

Will add the “Time Line” in a future blog post- Terri