Rare trove of Walt Disney drawings and family stocks show business was in his blood

An early Walt Disney illustration refered to as “Fill Up My Can” is one of dozens of Disney memorabilia to be offered Nov. 29-30, 2011 by Holabird-Kagen Auctions. Other selections include correspondence and stock issued to Disney before he became famous.

RENO, Nev. – A rare and unusual trove of stock certificates and family correspondence from the Walt Disney family crosses the block Nov. 29-30 2011. The collection, offered by Holabird and Kagin Americana, includes an original, autographed, very early illustration by Walt Disney.

The pen and ink work was done in the early 1920s, most likely prior to Mickey Mouse, who didn’t make his screen debut until 1928. The collection also includes several stock certificates issued by the O-Zell Jelly Company of Chicago, including what may be the very first stock ever issued to Walt.

“Everything in this auction is great stuff,” Fred Kagin told Antique Trader. “When I saw this I flipped. If you look at the history of the Disney Company – all of us my age and younger are all Disney fans. I was fortunate to visit Disneyland and shake Walt Disney’s hand in person.”

Kagin said the archive was discovered through a loyal client. A settlement more than 30 years ago cleared any legal issues surrounding ownership of the Disney items and it was only a matter of time before the items were offered at auction, he said.

These items were formerly owned by Walt Disney, his parents Flora and Elias, and his sister Ruth. They may be the only surviving O-Zell items known to exist. In the spring of 1917 Elias Disney, had tired of the newspaper delivery business and decided to make a career change, which also included bringing his youngest son, Walter into the venture. There is a distinct possibility that family revenue gained from work at the O-Zell Company gave Walt his first needed grub stake that allowed him to venture into the world of animation.  While it’s’ unknown what happened to the O-Zell  Jelly Company in later years, that 16-year old kid from Kansas went on to make quite a name for himself.

The archive represents the earliest Disney family material ever offered at public auction and was released as part of a settlement agreement between Ruth Disney Beecher (Walt’s younger sister) and Collector’s Exchange of Oregon 1975. The provenance from the Disney family is indisputable and contains material issued to many different Disney family members.

Elias Disney, Walt’s father, operated a delivery route for the Kansas City Star and Kansas City Times Newspapers. Walt and possibly his siblings helped deliver newspapers.

Elias became interested in the O-Zell Company in Kansas City about 1912 when Walt was about 11 years old. He began buying stock, putting much of it in his family member’s names, including Walters through at least 1918. Elias joined the company part time at first, then later full time. There is a distinct possibility that family revenue gained from work at the O-Zell Company gave Walter his first needed grub stake. Among the rarities:

O-Zell Company Stock Certificates: These stocks were formerly owned by Walt Disney, his parents Flora and Elias, and his sister Ruth. O-Zell Company Stock Certificates: In the spring of 1917, Elias Disney purchased $16,000 worth of stock in the O-Zell jelly factory. Later, Elias was hired as the factory’s Head of plant construction.

The O-Zell Company Stock Certificates
These stocks were formerly owned by Walt Disney, his parents Flora and Elias, and his sister Ruth. These items may be the only surviving O-Zell items known to exist. In the spring of 1917, Elias Disney had tired of the newspaper delivery business. He had managed to squirrel away some money and announced he was ready to return to Chicago where he had spent $16,000 to purchase a partnership in the O-Zell jelly factory. In addition to jelly, the company was producing a soft drink called O-Zell, which Elias claimed would make the family’s fortune. Elias had obtained a position as the factory’s head of plant construction.

The color of the certificates listed as items 1 and 2 are gray and black on white paper; the remaining stock certificates listed are orange on white paper. The size of each stock certificate is approximately 8 1/8” x 11 1/8”.

Correspondence from the O-Zell CompanyCorrespondence from the O-Zell Co.: collection consists of approximately 42 items, circa 1912 and is comprised of letters, receipts and contracts to and from Elias Disney.

Correspondence from the O-Zell Company
This correspondence consists of approximately 42 items, circa 1912. These are letters, receipts and contracts to and from Elias Disney. Several are notices to O-Zell stockholders. These items are for the very serious collectors, who are aware that Walt Disney was not only a stockholder in the O-Zell Company at the age of 15, but that he was employed there “part-time” later; and that Walt Disney’s father, Elias Disney, bought heavily into stock of The O-Zell Company. Correspondence praises Elias, then asks him to see what he can do with the “Star”, and if it was possible to raise money ($3,000) by means of a loan, which he complied. Many documents are signed by Elias Disney. The collection is expected to bring $15,000 to 25,000.

Walt Disney Drawing with Original Disney Signature
This circa 1921 original Walt Disney pen and ink drawing is titled “Fill Up My Can.” Measuring 8 inches by 4 3/4 inches, it is attached to a blue page with a heading titled “miscellaneous” from “The Girl Graduate’s Record Book” that belonged to Ruth Disney Beecher. The drawing is expected to bring $35,000 to $50,000.

Visit Holabird-Kagin Americana for more information on its fall auction.

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