An auction of Disneyland memorabilia, set to take place this weekend, showcases a treasure trove of costumes and uniforms worn by the Anaheim park’s employees and performers, including elaborate gowns worn in the Golden Horseshoe Revue and a three-quarters-length toggle-button coat worn by those working on the Matterhorn Bobsled attraction.
Organized by Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, the Story of Disneyland collection, which goes under the gavel Saturday and Sunday, includes dozens of wearable artifacts stretching all the way back to the theme park's early years.
The collection includes an assortment of floor-length dresses and feathered headpieces worn by Betty Taylor's Slue Foot Sue character in the Golden Horseshoe Revue, a complete Disneyland Railroad conductor uniform and cast member uniforms from Autopia, It's a Small World and the Haunted Mansion (a three-piece cast member butler costume from 1969 -- the year the attraction opened).
There's even a hilarious Disney fashion fail -- a photo-collage polyester disco shirt by Kennington (1976) -- that makes us wonder if there was a short-lived disco attraction at the park no one told us about.
Other pieces of note include a piece of Imagineer-designed Tomorrowland souvenir fabric (1955) that reminds us of our favorite Paul László textile design, a retro-futuristic blue and white vinyl shoulder bag celebrating the opening of Space Mountain (1977) and an assortment of embroidered cast member uniform patches (our favorite one includes a reference to an attraction's corporate sponsor: “Monsanto, Adventure Thru Inner Space”).
But the fashion component barely scratches the surface of the impressive collection of Disneyana -- some 859 lots in all -- that will go up for bid this weekend and seems to have just about one (or more) of everything, including ashtrays bearing the Disneyland coat of arms (1958), psychedelic mouse-ear shopping bags (from 1969, not surprisingly) and a 1955 "Merry Christmas" gift box designed to mail a bag of corn chips from the Casa de Fritos restaurant.
The collection is also heavy on printed graphics -- especially the brightly colored vintage 54-inch by 36-inch posters for the various attractions (examples include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the Jungle River cruise and the Country Bear Jamboree), and a whole lot of behind-the-scenes ephemera such as press kits, internal planning documents and some real random items such as a complete 1967 park staff roster (including vacation status) and a "Men of the Park" employee calendar from 1984.
Gallery owner Mike Van Eaton told us that all of the items up for bid belong to a single private collector who preferred not to be identified, but who wished to have a permanent record made of the collection. The result of that collection, Van Eaton said, is a 295-page, extensively detailed, richly illustrated catalog that can be purchased (no bidding necessary) for $30.
According to Van Eaton, the anonymous collector also happens to be a collector of all things tiki, a fact that helps explain the deep bench of items related to the Enchanted Tiki Room that will appeal to the Polynesian pop enthusiast crowd: aloha shirts and dresses worn by cast members, actual animatronic birds, carved figurines and even a 144-inch by 44-inch piece of blue and white aloha floral print fabric.
Some of the above-mentioned Enchanted Tiki Room pieces are among the items currently on display at Van Eaton Galleries, 13613 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, which will be open to the public 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday.
Lots 1 through 479 are scheduled to go up for bid starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time Saturday, followed by lots 480 to 859 on Sunday, with in-person bidding at Van Eaton Galleries and online bidding at icollector.com. Additional information, including bidding instructions and an online version of the catalog, can be found at www.vegalleries.com/storyofdisneyland.html.
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