Disney "Snow White" Cels, ca. 1938
Appraised Value: $6,900 - $9,200
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (4:12)
GUEST: Came from an estate that I helped clear out in Belmont, California. We helped a lady with a lot of the furniture, a lot of bric-a-brac and then a lot of collectibles and unusual things.
APPRAISER: So did you pay for them?
GUEST: Yes, we did.
APPRAISER: And how much did you pay for the set of three?
GUEST: Probably about $50.
APPRAISER: For all three?
GUEST: For all three. At the time we weren't sure that they were originals or anything else about them.
APPRAISER: So you have three animation cels. Now, they've been re-framed at some point. On the back of these cels should be a label that we call the courvoisier label. There was a gallery in San Francisco that in the late '30s went to Walt Disney and said, "We would like to buy used animation cels." Walt Disney thought he'd found money in the street because they either threw them away or washed them and used them again. Disney did little airbrush backgrounds for them called courvoisier backgrounds. And he slapped this label on the back and he had what they call concessions in big department stores where he was selling these animation cels for like $25 apiece, which was huge money back then, but he was very successful.
GUEST: Oh, yeah.
APPRAISER: Well, the war put an end to that. But when these were re-framed, a lot of times the framers would be very nice and move the label out to the outside, but they didn't do that in this case. But we know they're courvoisiers from the backgrounds. Now, when you see an animation cel at an auction, it will give you the dimensions of the entire piece and then it'll give you what is called the site. The site is the actual size of the gouache painting of the cel itself that is being used for the image. So here we have an animation cel from Snow White, from 1938, and the site on this one is about six inches. That's the widest point. And the site on this guy is about the same. And that's fairly large for an animation cel.
APPRAISER: They're usually three or four inches. The site on this with all seven dwarfs is a foot. It is the largest site I've ever seen on an animation cel.
APPRAISER: I might note that it is the only animation cel from Snow White that I've ever seen with just the seven dwarfs in it. Now, you get the values. When we started ANTIQUES ROADSHOW nine years ago now, the boom was still on in animation cels. They would bring very high prices. The first few ROADSHOWs we began to notice a whole flood of animation cels coming in. And what happened was it began to drive the price of the market down and at the same time, the on-line auctions were beginning to have an influence on the market, so the values just drifted down and down. They call it the ROADSHOW effect, because nobody knew there were that many out there.
APPRAISER: Now, in the '90s when the boom was still on, a piece like this might sell for $2,500 to $3,000.
GUEST: Holy smokes.
APPRAISER: Now it sells for about $900 to $1,000.
APPRAISER: This is more unusual for a courvoisier because he mostly did the features, like Snow White, Fantasia, Dumbo. This cartoon could sell for about $1,000 to $1,200 now, whereas it would have sold before for close to $3,000.
GUEST: Sure, wow.
APPRAISER: But there're always exceptions to every rule. And this cel, this unbelievable site, is the exception. I would say that this piece would sell in the $5,000 to $7,000 range.
GUEST: Gee, wow.
APPRAISER: It's a major find. You have a little bit of damage in this piece.
GUEST: I noticed it.
APPRAISER: There's a little bit of bubbling in it. There are restorers who can do that. There are specialists in cel restoration who can bring that cel back. So you have a total value in your three pieces of $6,900 to $9,200. So that $50 is... is turning into a... quite a find.
GUEST: My wife might say they're good as gone, but I think they're great.
APPRAISER: They're super.
GUEST: Yeah, no, they're fantastic pieces.
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