I was born without the "collector's gene", that genetic defect which compels some people to collect the oddest things. Even as a child I lacked the affliction. Since every Canadian boy was expected to collect hockey cards I gave it a try . . . but I just didn't see the sense in it. I got no pleasure from it. It all seemed pointless, so I quickly gave it up as a lost cause.
For years I smugly watched my friends with their collections, hockey cards, baseball cards, music and so many other things. I knew that I was immune; I was never going to catch the bug, I was above that sort of thing! I was normal and collecting would never be a part of my life.
But I overlooked one little thing. I forgot the perverse pleasure Mother Nature takes when she makes sure that a normal "non-collector" like me falls in love with a die-hard fanatical collector of all things Disney. So Carol came into my life, swept me off my feet and before you could say "Disneyana" we were married. It seemed like it was just a few seconds after I said, "I do" when she said, "Follow me" and dragged me off to a flea market. My dear wife is the epitome of the collection affliction. If there was an organization searching for a cure to the collecting bug I think Carol could be their poster girl!
In the eleven years since we were married we have covered a lot of ground and visited a lot different of places while she continually searches out new items to add to her collection of "Disney stuff". I am still not a collector (he said smugly) but I am certainly immersed in the activity.
So what have I learned in the past eleven years? There are Disney treasures everywhere. Just everywhere!
Carol has found some amazingly nice Disney collectibles at garage sales, at flea markets, at thrift shops and rummage sales. I think that old adage must be true; "One man's trash is another man's treasure" and Carol has collected a lot of treasure!
Mickey Mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie in November 1928 and people were clamouring to buy the first stuffed Mickey Mouse doll when it hit the stores in 1930. Walt Disney quickly proved himself to be a master marketer, licensing his copyrighted characters for all sorts of interesting products.
How successful was he? Try a few simple tests . . . first type Disneyana into a Google search bar - Wow, there are over 5 million items. Next go to eBay and type Disneyana into the search bar there. Yikes, there are over 275,000 items for sale. That's a lot of collectibles folks!
Everyone has had Disney toys and games at some point in their lives and often people outgrow them. Yes, I know that's a hard thing for we die-hard Disney fans to understand but it really does happen. And when it occurs it creates wonderful opportunities for collectors like Carol. Many people have no idea how valuable some of these old treasures are.
Here are a few examples:
1. Carol has the old Disney lunch box our son Rob took to school every day back in the 70's. It's a bit banged and battered from normal use but it's in pretty good shape. Check on eBay and you will see it selling for about $75.00.
2. At a garage sale she spotted a commemorative Wedgewood plate, in the original box, from Disney Cruise Line. It has a picture of Castaway Cay on the front. We have not discovered when or how it was sold, but similar Wedgewood plates featuring the Magic and the Wonder are selling on eBay for about $125.00. Carol bought hers for 25 cents!
Garage sales and Thrift Stores are full of this sort of hidden gold!
And Carol is not alone in her quest; our son Rob is always vigilant as he prowls for bargains! Hardly a week goes by that the phone doesn't ring and I hear this sort of conversation, "Yes, I already have that . . . no, that sounds interesting . . . how big is it? . . . Yes, I think I'd like it!" A few days later Rob shows up with his latest find. Of course if it's Jack Skellington our phone will not ring. Rob is a big Nightmare Before Christmas fan and has quite a shrine dedicated to Jack and other characters from the movie.
Here are some examples from her Disneyana collection. Most are in mint condition. This is just a sampling of the things she and Rob have picked up at thrift shops and garage sales.
Let's start with items from Value Village. In the USA you will find this group's stores operating under the trade names Savers, Value Village, Unique and Valu Thrift.
That classic Mickey Mouse telephone pictured earlier in this article cost Rob $24.99 at Value Village. If you like it there's a "buy it now" offer on eBay for $120.00
The inked stamp set (boxed at rear) cost $4.99; the Eeyore frame was $3.99. There are two sets of Mickey and Minnie figures, they were $4.00 each. The set on the right are salt & pepper shakers.
The Disney collector coins were $5.00 each, the silver spoons $3.00 each. The bottle opener and the pewter shovel spoon were $5.00 each. On the right is a bolo tie from Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. It features Musket Mickey, a park icon you do not see anymore. It's a real treasure; a friend found it in a Florida thrift store and picked it up for us.
Yes, those are genuine Snowbabies. Buy the set now for $125.00 on eBay or $29.99 at Value Village. Can you believe it?
Let's look at a few Garage Sale items.
That's the Disney Cruise Line plate I mentioned earlier, about $125.00 on eBay and $.25 at a garage sale. Brer Bear was $.50 and that wonderful Mickey clock was $2.00
My First Game is a Disney classic. This one, produced in 1955, was $5.00 at a flea market, all the other items came from garage sales. Trivial Pursuit (still on the shelves in the Emporium on Main Street USA) cost $2.00 and was still wrapped in its original cellophane. That terrific chess set came in a nice metal box for only $5.00
These Christmas ornaments were all $3.00 or less.
Here are some flea market acquisitions.
That little Donald figure is actually a stapler, only $2.99 - The Pinocchio Matchbox car dates back to the 70's and was $2.99 - The pewter item at the rear is a 100 Years of Magic picture frame and includes a Disney pin, only $8.00 - Snow White was $.50 and that little blue and red box on the front contains a Mickey Mouse Disneykin, buy it now for $11.99 on eBay but he cost only $2.00 at the flea market.
Another good hunting ground is the Salvation Army Thrift Shop.
The items in the back are a ring-coil notepad for $3.00 and a $.50 packet of Pluto pumpkin seeds. The standing Winnie the Pooh was $3.00 and the Pooh in the tree was $1.00
My last picture is a mixed bag.
Peter Pan, a Jim Shore creation, was $5.00 at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, the Tigger "Bouncy Fun" Christmas ornament is from Bradford Exchange. You can buy it online for $16.99 but it was $2.99 at Value Village. Lady and the Tramp cost $5.00 at a flea market.
While I don't have that "collector's gene" and I don't experience the joy that Carol does when she finds a "new" gem it always makes me happy when I see that big grin on her face. It's a good hobby!
I hope this gives you a sense of what is out there waiting for you. If you like Disneyana you should get out there Saturday mornings and scour those garage sales; track down all the thrift shops.
There are treasures to be found everywhere!
The previous post in this blog was Keeping the Disney Magic Alive.
The next post in this blog is These Are A Few Of My Favourite Disney Things.