Long lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon by Walt Disney sold for US$31,250 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium.
The only known copy of the Disney film ‘Hungry Hobos’ has been found in a social history film archive in Herefordshire, UK (Huntley Film Archives) and it has been sold in the Entertainment Memorabilia auction on 14th December 2011 at Bonhams in Los Angeles, USA.
The character of Oswald was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks for a series of cartoons introduced in 1927. After the “Alice Comedies” were finished, Disney signed a contract with Universal Studios to produce a new series for George Winkler and Charles Mintz. The first production featuring Oswald, “Poor Papa,” was rejected by Universal as the production and look of Oswald was deemed unsatisfactory. The second, “Trolley Troubles,” with a younger-looking Oswald, effectively began the series and it became a great success, with Walt Disney overseeing some twenty six titles. “Hungry Hobos” was released in May 1928 and is one of a number of the series that has been thought “lost.”
In 1928 Disney approached Mintz for a budget increase but Mintz countered with a demand for a cut, stating that he had already negotiated with most of Disney’s then employees to sign a revised contract. Disney refused Mintz’s demand and disassociated himself from the Oswald series. Iwerks and several others stuck with Disney and it was during this period that Disney and Iwerks produced the character of Mickey Mouse – a slightly altered Oswald – and the most iconic of Disney’s creations.
Stephanie Connell of Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia department comments, “Hungry Hobos” an incredible find, a lost masterpiece and a cartoon with a unique and vital place in animation history.”
Comprising a 16mm double perforated celluloid acetate positive print, silent, probably dating from around its distribution date of late 20s/early 30s, total running time 5 minutes, 21 seconds and 2 frames at a running speed of 24 frames per second.
Huntley Film Archives is a social history film archive, based in Herefordshire. They recently re-discovered the film and when they realised its significance they decided to sell it, and will devote the proceeds to their collection of 80,000 films, which are badly in need of restoration.
Amanda Huntley of Huntley Film Archives comments, “When we checked this film we couldn’t quite believe our eyes. For an archive, finding a lost masterpiece is incredible – you just don’t think it will happen to you. We are excited and delighted to offer this gem to animation aficionados and collectors.”
From the The Bonhams press release