Jun 09, 2022 - Sale 2608

Sale 2608 - Lot 234

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000


Cartoon characters flying over a European city.

Original illustration for a possibly unrealized King Features Mickey Mouse calendar for 1930. Pen and ink on paper with archival backing paper. 1003x750 mm; 39 1/2x29 1/2 inches. Partial signature visible, lower right. See condition report.
Provenance: Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc.; Geographicus Rare Antique Maps.

This is one of eight known and twelve presumed illustrations by Biedermann for a large-scale King Features annual calendar. Noted Mickey Mouse collector and toy designer Mel Birnkrant, who owns the four others from this same series, notes on his website (melbirnkrant.com) that the images can be dated to 1930, which was the year King Features licensed Mickey Mouse from Disney as a comic strip. Each of the scenes shows a newly-arrived Mickey and his cartoon friends in a different foreign city "taking on the world," as it were.

Biedermann was a prolific artist on the staff of Joseph Pulitzer's and William Randolph Hearst's syndicated newspapers, and illustrated many of their numerous book, magazine, and calendar publications. His crowd scenes and views from a bird's eye perspective, like this image, became his trademark. In 1926, he co-created the book All The Funny Folks for which he made detailed drawings featuring dozens of famous comic characters by other cartoonists. The success of the book led to a commission by King Features Syndicate to illustrate annual calendars with the complete roster of the company's comic strip characters.

Here, along with Biedermann's giant-eared Mickey, we see Felix the Cat, Bonzo, Jiggs and Grace Drayton's Dolly Dimples among other famous faces.

A fascinating example of Biedermann's work and among the earliest artworks related to the Mickey Mouse comic strip. The whereabouts of the remaining four illustrations is unknown.