EXTRAORDINARY SNOW WHITE ILLUSTRATED STORYBOOK, FIRST EDITION, 1937, ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF KNOWN COPIES SIGNED BY WALT DISNEY AND 51 OF THE SNOW WHITE ANIMATORS
(DISNEY STUDIOS). Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Adapted from Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1937. Slim folio, original half black cloth, pictorial paper boards, pictorial endpapers, original dust jacket.
First edition of this wonderfully illustrated storybook of the first full-length animated feature film, with numerous full-page and in-text color illustrations, boldly signed on the front free endpaper and title page by Walt Disney and 51 of the 64 animators who contributed to the ground-breaking movie.
“Walt Disney retains a centrality in American culture granted to few 20th-century figures… [and he] remains the central figure in the history of animation” (ANB). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs graced the screen in 1937 as Disney’s defiance of the prevailing industry wisdom that “animation could never sustain a feature-length film. Disney proved [critics] spectacularly short-sighted” (Silvey, 204). Snow White continues to command respect, “its animation still impressive, its characterization generally excellent, its narrative drive compelling and its sense of quintessential fantasy strong” (Clute & Grant, 883). Disney originally intended to spend half a million dollars on production, but ultimately spent $1.5 million. He was therefore eager to take advantage of the significant European presence of RKO, his distributor. On September 5-6, 1938, RKO held its first International Sales Convention at the Hotel George V in Paris, inviting 24 potential European distributors (dubbed “The European Foreign Legion”). The agenda included a screening of Snow White. For this important two-day business meeting, Disney orchestrated the signing of a number of copies of the book version of Snow White to be given as gifts. He signed boldly at the bottom of the title page, instructing the movie’s animators and other creative personnel to sign the title page and opposite, as well as on the front free endpaper. This is one of those few, wonderful signed copies, boasting, in addition to Disney’s, signatures from 51 of the film’s 64 principal creators. The majority of images for Snow White have been attributed to noted artist Gustaf Tenggren, whose signature appears at the top of the front free endpaper (verso). “Tenggren gave Snow White the Old World look that Walt Disney sought for his breakthrough animated feature… His Scandinavian heritage influenced his work in the scenes he created for Snow White” (Library of Congress). In addition to Tenggren, signees include six others of the nine lead animators, later affectionately called by Disney his “nine old men:” Les Clark, Milt Kahl, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, Wolfgang “Woolie” Reitherman and Frank Thomas. The remaining autographs include those of character designers, art directors and supervising animators. Other notable signatories include character designers Albert Hurter and Joe Grant; art directors Charles Phillippi, Terrell Stapp, McLaren Stewart, Harold Miles, Gustav Tenggren, Ken Anderson, Kendall O’Connor and Hazel Sewelll and supervising animators Ham Luske and Vladimir Tytla. With publisher’s cipher “M-M” (December 1937) on copyright page. Gift inscriptions to copyright page.
Scattered light foxing and soiling. Closed tear to pages 63-64 restored. Boards lightly rubbed. Bright original dust jacket lightly rubbed with small repair to rear panel. An excellent copy, one of only a handful known to exist, of this extraordinary prize of Disneyana.