We all know Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, but among the other famous characters of Walt Disney are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
According to Collectors Weekly, “At the end of the 1930s, Disney began modernizing its familiar characters with contemporary outfits and softening their physical features to achieve a more human silhouette. The market for Disneyana really went wild after the 1937 release of Disney’s first full-length animated fantasy musical film, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ with the princess and her little friends appearing on every imaginable household product. The film was originally released by RKO Radio Pictures and based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.”
Today, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be found, along with other Disney toys, with little to no effort at flea markets, garage sales, local antique and toy shows as well as online and through auction houses and specialty catalogs. Disney material from the pre-war 1930s through the 1960s is by far the most desirable. Local collector Ramona Metz, of Rushford, got started about 32 years ago.
“I always loved seeing the ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarfs’ movie,” Metz said. “Once I realized Snow White and I are the same age, I decided to start a collection. I now have about 200-plus pieces to my collection. My oldest pieces and the most valuable are my three dwarf dolls, Sleepy, Happy and Bashful, with 1937 Ideal tags attached.”
What’s it worth?
There are many manufacturers of these items. They include, from Lenox, a complete set selling for around $479. A Lladro #07555 Disney Snow White with Birdie, made in Spain, sells for about $425.
Then we have a set of Schmid Snow White and all seven of the Dwarfs music boxes selling $230. But looking back with the Antique Trader 2017 Price Guide, we see the value on an original art piece of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1936 around $2,151 and by Marx, 1938 Dopey walker tin litho wind-up with original box around $278.
A 1937 Dwarf Doc celluloid holding a lantern followed by Bashful and Sneezy, applied to airbrush background valued around $605. We are seeing the value and the selling prices jumping around. Of course, condition is everything, and some rubber items have deteriorated, making it hard for collectors to find those from 1937. Reproductions, including reproduced tin dolls, are also on the marketplace, so be aware.
Snow White Matryoshka Dolls — vintage nesting dolls — would make a fabulous gift for Christmas. They are selling on the market for around $40 on up. For Madam Alexander dolls, the selling prices and values jump, mainly because so many are on the market and finding the right individual to purchase may take some time.
More collectibles came out in the 1960s. Even McDonald’s came into the act, with Snow White and the Dwarfs clip-ons in Happy Meals. Metz took advantage of that deal to add to her collection. These are going as low as $14 for a complete set, including the queen and witch, unopened.
Starting a collection
I asked Metz what a beginning collector needs to know. She said, “When a person decides to collect something such as mine, you need to have time to search out items at antique stores, auctions and in my case, stores carrying Disney items. They should also have a place to display the collection.
“I consider my collecting a hobby and I suppose it is a ‘true love’ and also exciting when finding items,” she said. “Some friends and family have also contributed to my collection.”
Since Metz displays her items and folks have given her items, I would say they are probably impressed with all.
“Yes, they are very impressed, and I have received lots of satisfaction and enjoyment from the challenge of adding to my collection,” she said. “When the time comes that it is necessary to move to smaller living quarters, I will consider selling some items and passing some on to family members.”
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