Winsor McCay Original Art, ca. 1908

Value (2012) | $25,000 Auction$38,000 Auction

My father was born in 1893 in New York City, and he developed some talent in sketching. He followed the funny papers that were available to him as a kid. And as he got a little older, he asked somebody, either at the newspaper or from the artist himself, for some examples of how the pen and ink was put together. And so he was given three of these-- I don't know what you call them-- and one of them is not here, but it's about the same size as this.

Well, what you have here are two examples of Winsor McCay's works of art. Winsor McCay was one of the foremost cartoonists and illustrators in the world, also one of the first people ever to do animation when he did a series called, Gertie the Dinosaur. Just a phenomenal, groundbreaking event. If you look at the bottom part on the Rarebit Fiend, it's signed "Silas." It's not signed "Winsor McCay."


McCay was contracted with the New York Herald to do Little Nemo in Slumberland. He then went to the Evening Telegram to do Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, and the editor of the Herald insisted that he not use his name on that piece, so he signed them all "Silas." They're framed beautifully, but more importantly, they're clean, there's no foxing, there's no damage. The condition is just incredible. The other thing that's absolutely amazing is that for all intents and purposes, these have been in your possession since... Since they were drawn. Since they were drawn, basically right after that. So these have never been seen on the market. In terms of value, that increases the value dramatically. Now, a really nice Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which is that cartoon over there-- basically portrays a kid who has horrible nightmares-- on today's market, I would estimate it at auction at $5,000 to $8,000 on that one.



Oh my.

The Little Nemo in Slumberland is just spectacular. This is his premier cartoon. You have most of the main characters that he was very well known for. You have the Imp, you have Flip, and that's another big factor when people look at buying cartoon art, is that they want to see that the main characters are present. This has it all. At auction, I would put a fairly conservative estimate at $20,000 to $30,000. So the two pieces you have here combined are roughly $25,000 to $38,000 on a high estimate. And I wouldn't be surprised to see them bring every bit of that because the comic market and the comic art market is still an extremely hot market. When I saw it, I honestly... you know, I usually don't say this, but it really kind of knocked my socks off, because just when you think you're not going to see a new one come on the market... Something comes along.

Appraisal Details

Philip Weiss Auctions
Lynbrook, NY
Appraised value (2012)
$25,000 Auction$38,000 Auction
Boston, MA (June 09, 2012)
20th Century
Ink, Paper

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