American animation art of the 20th century traditionally has been one
of the hottest areas in the collectibles market. During the late 1980s and
early 1990s, animation cels and drawings were plentiful in the market and
their prices reflected many collectors' mania for images from their childhoods.
However, as with all markets, the cyclical nature of the collectibles
market must allow for the ebb and flow in values and availability of property.
Overall, the entire market is making an adjustment.
Today collectors have become more sophisticated and are looking for rare and unusual items.
For animation cels, the market is divided between two areas of
collecting: original artworks and limited editions.
Since original production cels were customarily destroyed, they're
considerably more valuable than limited editions. Even in today's market,
key set-ups of animation cels — a cel and background artwork that can be
matched to the film and are in the same time frame — are still highly sought after.
Prices for original production work vary according to many different
Important variables include the studio and the character, the movie or
cartoon that the artwork is from, and the date of that production.
Other factors include the scene in the cartoon or movie, the size and
position of the character in the artwork, and the condition of the art. Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs, for instance, is still highly sought after since it was the
first full-length animated feature by Disney.
At the high end, production art from the major animation movies from
the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s can range from $800 to $200,000. A good
example of an $800 cel would be a minor character from the 1951 Disney
in Wonderland, such as the Dodo Bird. The current auction record is held by Sotheby's, which sold a
White color cel for $209,000 in 1991.
Then there are those who are seeking more moderately priced artwork
from the heyday of their youth in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Prices for
cels from these animation movies are in the $500 to $1,200 range.
to look for - what is current