Lost 'Oswald' work of Walt Disney found in UK vault


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An archivist in Herefordshire has uncovered a previously thought lost animation which reveals the early work of Walt Disney.

Robert Dewar, of the Huntley Film Archive in Ewyas Harold, was in the organisation's vault when a film that had been sitting in the archive for over 20 years "attracted his attention". The film happened to be an animation of Oswald the Rabbit, part of a series of 26 that Universal had asked Disney and his team to create, some of which had been thought lost.

"It had previously been thought, or even possibly had 'Mickey' written on it, so we just thought 'oh it is just a Mickey Mouse' but when I had a look at it I thought hang on a minute, this is an Oswald film."

The film is considered historically significant as it helps show how Oswald the Rabbit's appearance starts to change to more resemble Mickey Mouse, Mr Dewar said. "We can genuinely use the phrase that Oswald is a proto-Mickey," he added.

The money raised from the sale will help with the preservation of films in the archive. It contains 80,000 films, but only 44,000 have been catalogued,

"Who knows what is in that vault," Mr Dewar said.

Auction house Bonhams, who is handling the sale on 14 December, expects a lot of interest for what is possibly the only copy of the film. Stephanie Connell, its head of entertainment memorabilia, said: "We have hundreds of people who collect things to do with Disney in LA or it may be someone who is interested in the history of cinema of which this is a very important piece."