On November 18th, somebody we all know and love is celebrating a big birthday. That’s right: Mickey Mouse is turning 90 years old, making him just two years younger than the Queen. Can you believe that? The world’s favourite mouse was conceived in sketches by legendary animator Hugh Harman in 1925, which inspired fellow animator Ub Iwerks, one of the original Disney animators, to create arguably, the most famous mouse in history. Mickey debuted in the iconic Steamboat Willie in 1928. Since then Mickey Mouse has had a remarkable career. By 1938 – 10 years after the launch of Steamboat Willie – he’d appeared in 100 Disney cartoons. He’s made almost 300 appearances in Disney productions to date.
Mickey Mouse has appeared in film, on paper, in video games and even in person. His popularity is reflected in the variety of memorabilia created throughout the years. If you’re a Disney fan – as so many of us are – you could be sitting on a not-so-small fortune if you have any of these rare Mickey Mouse collectibles!
Rare Mickey Mouse collectibles
At the height of his career in the 1930s, Mickey Mouse appeared on a huge range of items. If you can think of it, there was probably a Mickey Mouse version of it in the ’30s and ’40s. Naturally, many of these items haven’t survived, or, being over 80 years old, are rather worse for wear. So, the pieces that have survived, and particularly if they’re in good condition, can be rather valuable to Disney collectors.
Watches featuring Mickey Mouse that use his arms as the hands of the clock have been popular since Mickey’s launch. Way back in 1932, Disney approached watchmakers Ingersoll (now Timex) and asked them to produce a promotional Mickey Mouse watch for Disney to take to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The watch they produced was a wrist watch that, if you have an original with its box, can be worth upwards of £5000. The design has endured, and watches with similar designs are still being made by Ingersoll and others today.
Ingersoll also produced a number of Mickey Mouse pocket watches for Disney, that today are considered rare and valuable Disney memorabilia. By the 1930s the pocket watch was much less fashionable than a wrist watch, which perhaps accounts for why there are so few still around. One that still works and keeps reasonable time can fetch up to £150. Considering Ingersoll were known for affordable products back in the day, it’s likely that this sale price means a tidy profit!
Dolls and figurines
A number of manufacturers made Mickey Mouse dolls soon after his launch in 1928. The first line of Mickey Mouse toys was made by American seamstress Charlotte Clark, whose velveteen-stuffed toys were sold at department store Bullocks & May Co. for $5 each. Now, they sell for upwards of $400 (roughly £310). And to think people thought $5 was steep! In 2007, a pair of Mickey Mouse toys made by Charlotte Clark sold at auction for over £100,000. These were a special case, though, as they were each over 1 metre tall!
Mickey Mouse toys were also made by well-known toy bear specialists, Steiff. Their vintage 1930s Mickey Mouse dolls have sold for over £1000. Another early manufacturer of Mickey Mouse dolls was Dean’s. These toys had an internal wire skeleton so they could be posed and stand up unaided. If you have one of these today, even in worse-for-wear condition you can expect to sell it for £75 or more.
Modern Mickey Mouse dolls
Of more recent Mickey Mouse dolls, the special edition “Walt Disney World 2000” collection have sold recently for around £20 each. This is a good price considering they aren’t that old. But, they may be worth hanging onto for a few more years yet if you have any. Another modern collection already proving valuable is the “Mickey Mouse Memories” collection. This launched in 2018 as a monthly series to celebrate Mickey’s birthday. Each set includes a plush toy, a mug and pins. Each month’s launch is only available during that month, making each set very limited edition. While the latest launches are available to buy on the Disney website for £25, that hasn’t stopped prices for previous months’ sets soaring. In October 2018, a collection of each set from January to September sold for £1,450 on eBay, over £1000 more than each set was bought for!
One of a kind Mickey Mouse collectibles
If you have a vintage item that features Mickey Mouse and you’re struggling to find another one to gauge its value, then you may be in possession of something extremely rare. Remember, Mickey Mouse was wildly popular in the 1930s and 40s. He appeared everywhere and on almost everything, so it’s not impossible that you might have an item that’s one of only a handful left. The most valuable one-of-a-kind item we’ve seen is a makeup compact which sold in September 2018 for almost £600. Other items like a toffee tin that sold for £365, Christmas lights, and even a vintage car radiator badge have also popped up, though!
Mickey Mouse was so popular when he first launched that a number of manufacturers used his likeness without the proper licenses. Naturally, these won’t be worth as much – if anything at all – as their genuine counterparts. To check that a Mickey Mouse item you have is the real deal, look out for the copyright. Even back in the 1930s when Mickey Mouse was brand new, authentic Disney items bore a copyright mar. In the early days, this was Walt Disney Enterprises, or Walt Disney Productions after 1939. Nowadays, any genuine Mickey Mouse item will have the copyright for Disney Enterprises somewhere on it.
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Disney Trading Pins
Trading pins are among the most popular Disney memorabilia that fans can buy. Pin trading has been an official activity at Disney parks since 1999. Cast members trade pins with the public, and visitors to the parks can trade with each other, too. Thousands of pins have been created over the years and each design is only available for a limited amount of time. On top of that, some designs are even more limited edition. Disney frequently release pins at special events, movie premiers and to commemorate the opening of new park attractions. But, they’re all released in very limited quantities. For collectors, pin trading can be a serious business. Rare special editions are, to them, worth spending some serious dough on. But which ones?
Mickey’s Mac Club pin
“Mickey’s Mac Club” pins were produced in 1991 as a cast member pin for Disney employees. They were exclusively handed out to employees who were part of the Macintosh User’s Group (MUG) at Disney Studios. The group was what you probably expect – a group of people who used or were interested in Apple Mac computers and worked at Disney at the time. At the time, it was against the rules for Mickey to be associated with any commercial product. So, the Disney powers that be stepped in and stopped distribution of the pins.
As the pins were essentially banned by Disney, there aren’t that many of them around these days. This makes them extremely desirable for pin collectors. In September 2018, one sold on eBay for just over £3000, which gives you a taste of just how rare these Mickey Mouse collectibles are!
Piece of history pin sets
Each year since 2005, Disney has developed and released a limited edition series of pins. Each one is particularly special because it includes a tiny piece of a Walt Disney World attraction. A maximum of just 2500 of each pin are released, with a new one available each month. At least one design a year features Mickey Mouse. This automatically makes them very scarce and desirable to collectors who want to get their hands on a full set. Pins from the 2005 series are the most rare, being the oldest. The “jungle cruise” design, featuring Mickey and a fragment of safari hat material from the attraction has been know to sell for over £100. Can you imagine if you had the full set?
Cast member pins
If you know anyone who has worked in a Disney theme park, then it’s likely they have a few exclusive cast member pins. If they’ve been there for any length of time, they’ll also have service award pins featuring Mickey Mouse or one of his friends. The first service award pins are given out on an employee’s 1-year anniversary. Then, they’ll receive one for every five years they stay with Disney. The longer they’ve been there, the more of these badges they’ll have. Pins celebrating 20 years of service as a Disney cast member have sold for upwards of £50 each. When the pins commemorating 1 to 20 years of service are sold as a collection, they can fetch hundreds of pounds!
However, it’s the pins celebrating upwards of a 45-year career at Disney that are the rarest and most valuable. As you can imagine, very few people reach this milestone. In fact, these pins are so rare that you’ll struggle to find any for sale to gauge their value, although they’re thought to be worth in the region of £4000 each!
Will 90th birthday Mickey Mouse collectibles be worth something one day?
Disney have brought out a few ranges of Mickey Mouse collectibles to celebrate this big birthday. Many of the new collectibles are limited edition and won’t be available to buy once 2018 is over. How valuable they become, though, depends on exactly how many of each range have been produced. As a general rule of thumb, what makes any kind of memorabilia valuable in years to come is how scarce it’s become, what condition it’s in, and how scarce good condition items are. Traditionally, when something becomes difficult to find in good condition, then that’s when the price shoots up. When this happens, even poor condition items can increase in value, although they’ll never be worth as much as better condition versions.
These days, people are becoming more savvy to what makes their collectibles valuable. Often, you’ll see people buy two – one to enjoy, and one to preserve! Disney are protecting against this by limiting the number of collectibles from their 90th birthday range you can buy, both as an individual and as a household. Chances are it’ll still be a number of years, if not decades, before these collectibles become rare enough to be worth the big bucks. But they’re worth holding onto if you’ve bought any!