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The Wonderful World Of Disney FDCs

by Marjory J. Sente

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal noted that at Walt Disney World in Florida there is a statue of a man holding a mouse. Everyone recognizes the mouse — but don’t you think that it is surprising that far fewer passers-by today are able to recognize the man?

He is Walt Disney, of course.

Sadder still, perhaps, is the fact that so many of those visitors to the world he was instrumental in creating have no idea of who Walt Disney really was, and what he accomplished.

As I read the newspaper article, I could not help but think that most United States stamp collectors should know that Walt Disney is, indeed, a man — not (as so many at Disney World opined) a marketing department fabrication such as Betty Crocker, the Energizer Bunny or Ronald McDonald.

Walt Disney, of course, was honored on a 6¢ commemorative stamp in 1968, just two years after his death in 1966. That’s a time lag of the sort ordinarily accorded only to deceased presidents of the United States.

But why was the story in the Wall Street Journal in the first place? Well, yes — the Disney parks are worried about attendance, which has suffered (as it has everywhere else on Earth since Sept. 11). In fact, Disney has offered many of its employees an opportunity to work fewer hours in order to save jobs.

The article’s focus, however, was Walt Disney’s 100th birthday anniversary, slated to have been celebrated on Dec. 5.

Walt was born Dec. 5, 1901, in Chicago, Ill. Five years later, the family moved to Marceline, Mo., where he spent most of his childhood living on the family farm.

Some 33 years ago — on Sept. 11, 1968 — the United States Post Office Department issued the 6¢ Disney stamp at Marceline, near the family farmstead.

Two Walt Disney Productions staffers designed the stamp. C. Robert Moore supplied a procession of children and Paul E. Wenzel painted Disney’s portrait. Significantly, none of the familiar Disney characters were featured on the adhesive.

According to a stuffer in an FDC by the Marceline Chamber of Commerce, “On the farm, Walt learned that animals, as people, have separate personalities, a valuable lesson reflected in his creative work.”

Figure 1 shows the cacheted FDC that accompanied the stuffer produced in Marceline. It featured a farm complete with animals and an apple tree. Walt appears in the foreground as a boy fishing and sketching. A photo of him later in life is included in the design. The local Lions Club used a similar design that included a reference to the local organization.

The issue does not lack for cachets, and many feature animal characters that Disney created. Prominent in a number of the designs such as House of Farnum and JN is the most famous of these, Mickey Mouse.

Mickey made his screen debut in Steamboat Willie, the world’s first synchronized sound cartoon. It debuted at New York’s Colony Theatre Nov. 18, 1928. House of Farnum made a handsome, colorful special events cover for Mickey’s 50th birthday in 1978, with Mickey as he appeared in Steamboat Willie and a more modern version of him. It is shown in Figure 2.

In 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney’s first full-length animated musical feature, premiered in Los Angeles. Cachet Craft highlighted the movie on its cachet for the 1968 Disney commemorative, seen in Figure 3. The design features Snow White surrounded by all seven of her diminutive friends.

This milestone movie also was commemorated in the 1930s Celebrate the Century commemorative pane. And one of my favorites is the Jackson cachet that includes Goofy as the Overseas Mailers Marking. Goofy is Disney’s everyman. He is always cheerful, loyal and ready to help his friends.

Disneyland, another brainchild of Walt’s, also is portrayed on FDCs. The most memorable covers are those prepared using Disneyland stationery, complete with Tinkerbell and the trademark Disney castle.

In 1970, San Marino became the first foreign country to issue a set of stamps honoring Walt Disney and his characters. It includes 10 adhesives — one portraying Walt, and the balance showing key members of the stable. An FDC with five of the 10 stamps is shown in Figure 4.

And that was just the beginning.

Today, the wonderful world of Disney is indeed part of the wonderful world of stamp and cover collecting.