Hey, Which Witch is Which?
(what the heck should I collect and how should I get started)?!
1) Think about what you like and what your collecting goals are.
Who do I want to collect? I don’t think that one should limit oneself, but it’s not a bad idea to have a think about where your collection is going. You can pick studio (Disney), character types (Villains), or movies (Snow White). Or, you can just have fun, and collect any character or pose that takes your fancy!
What type of art do I want to collect? Original- cels, drawings, reproduction- limited editions, sericels, etc. Understand what you are collecting first, and it will save disappointments later.
2) Educate yourself to the differences about different kinds of art.
As I’ve said before, it’s very confusing in the beginning. Know the difference between original and reproduction art. Know the differences between key master, master, production, hand painted, and colour reproduction backgrounds. Know the differences between vintage, feature, short, television, and commercial animation. Be wary of adjectives such as “mint” and “rare”, they mean different things to different people. Mint has a different meaning for a Snow White cel (1937) than a Little Mermaid cel (1989). Also, “rare” is a Snow White cel from 1937, “rare” is not a sold-out limited edition that was made within the last 10 years.
3) Shop around a little bit for prices. Don’t think so much in terms of “will this be a good investment?”, as much as “is this good value for money?”.
Prices vary, and you should expect them to. Galleries get their art from different sources, and the prices are usually never the same for vintage pieces, even for similar pieces. Prices should be similar for newer art – Simpsons, limited editions, sericels, Batman, Disney television, etc. If you find a gallery that’s cheaper, that’s terrific, and you should stick with them. Don’t get talked into anything. Ask questions, but have the decision be yours.
4) Where do I find galleries?
In England, most of the new and reproduction animation art can be found at the Disney and Warner Stores. For vintage and also other sources of newer animation art, try a gallery which specializes in animation art. There are one or two in England besides myself. I recommend that you contact these galleries, interview them, compare prices, and see with whom you feel comfortable dealing.
The internet can also be a good source. I suggest looking for pages with a lot of art, educates collectors, is updated often, and has a good selection and prices. Also, a gallery that is used to dealing with overseas clients is a plus.
5) What is the deal with all these seals and certificates of authenticity?
Studio sealing is something that has come about in the last decade or so. For newer pieces, this acts as an extra assurance that the piece has come through the studio program. It is a similar situation for the certs. For vintage pieces, the studios are for the most part not involved (although recently the Warner Stores have been purchasing Tom and Jerry drawings, Red Hot drawings, and vintage Warner art from private sources to seal and sell in the stores). Vintage art comes from old animators, relatives of old animators and private individuals who bought them from Courvoisier or Disney years ago, etc. The cert comes from the individual dealer. This is the norm for the industry, and you should feel comfortable with a cert from any reputable dealer.
In conclusion, collecting animation art should be fun. And if you spend a little time in the beginning educating yourself, you’ll be much happier with your collection.