A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney

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Lot 138
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney

US$ 150,000 - 200,000
£ 120,000 - 160,000
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney
A Scrap Book Made for our soldiers and Sailors by Citizens of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library. Chicago: the Chicago Daily News, [1918]. Folio album with printed cover, cloth spine. WITH FIVE FULL PAGES ILLUSTRATED BY WALT DISNEY: the front cover (signed twice "Disney 18"), the inside front cover, the verso of the last page (signed "W.E. Disney"), the interior back cover (signed "Disney-18") and the back cover (signed twice ("Disney-18"). The interior leaves were used as a scrapbook by Virginia Baker during the year of Walt's deployment, and contain samples of her artwork, dance cards and invitations from parties (some dated February and March 1919). Together with two 1977 typed letters signed of Disney archivist David L. Smith discussing the scrapbook with the family of Virginia Baker; one 2014 typed letter signed of Smith relating his memories of the scrapbook and the Baker family; a letter of authenticity of Disney autograph specialist Phil Sears; research materials from Disney historian David Lesjak; and other related reference material.
Provenance: gift of Walt Disney to Virginia Baker; to Leslie Riddell (Virginia's daughter) by descent; sold privately 2014.

SOME OF THE EARLIEST AND MOST EXTENSIVE DRAWINGS BY WALT DISNEY STILL IN PRIVATE HANDS. A RARE GLIMPSE INTO THE YOUNG WALT'S MIND. These drawings were executed around the time of Disney's enlistment and departure, though whether this scrapbook actually traveled with him to France is difficult to say. Nonetheless, it reflects his fascination with and immersion into military culture. The drawings include:
Front cover: the upper left features a portrait of a U.S. Naval recruit; the upper right a portrait of an Army recruit, with a waiving stars and bars between them.
Inside front cover: a doughboy standing on the edge of a cliff kicks the Kaiser (in uniform) off the ledge into a "very deep cavern," shouting "Get off and stay off" while the Kaiser cries, "Ach! Kamerad Kamerad."
Final leaf: Disney offers two comical portraits of ugly men, one in profile, the other full face, with the tag, "People say that all great men are homely—but all homely men are not great." He adds "From Polk and Wood" and "Fresh from Dunning," a reference to two Chicago area mental hospitals. Disney historian David Lesjak writes, "Dunning is an area on the far northwest side of Chicago, once fearfully associated with the Cook County Insane Asylum located there, and ... Polk and Wood Streets intersect near the old Cook County Hospital, in what is now the Illinois Medical District."
Inside back cover: A large trench rat looms over a doughboy, with the tag, "Comparison of a trench rat to the average soldier in the trenches / as the soldier sees it." Disney adds a dialogue bubble above the soldier: "And the worst part is that we have to sleep with e'm [sic]."
Back cover: featuring three distinct cartoons, the first a man consoling a widow: "From what I hear Mrs. Smith your husband died." "Yes." "Did he leave you much?" "Three times a week...." The second featuring two cigar chomping men in conversation: "At what age was your mother married?" "At the age of thirteen." "I can beat that. My Mother was married before I was born." The third cartoon is of a trench rat sniffing some explosive cheese.
The scrapbook features 13 unique characters drawn by young Walt Disney, and both Sears and Lesjak feel that these are the earliest Disney drawings ever to come onto the market, as well as possibly the largest cache of the same. Certainly it is significant that rodents figure heavily into two of the vignettes present here, a wonderful foreshadowing Walt's greatest creation, Mickey Mouse.
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney
A World War I era series of drawings by young Walt Disney
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