NEW YORK, NY -- In the 1930s and 40s the beloved world of Disney collided with the legendary Parisian jewelry house of Cartier. The result of this happy collaboration was imaginative jewelry that referenced the classic Disney films we know and love -- princesses finding true love,fairies granting wishes -- and the chance to be part of the fantasy once more.
Like many of our favorite fictional characters, brothers Roy O. and Walt Disney rose to prominence from humble beginnings. In the 1920s, the behemoth we know today as The Walt Disney Company was a young enterprise very much in need of revenue. They began mass-producing Mickey and Minnie Mouse figurines with the George Borgfeldt manufacturing house in New York in 1929. Though the toys brought Disney much-needed income, Walt and his brother soon began to dream of higher-quality products stamped with the Disney name. Enter Herman “Kay” Kamen, whom the duo met in 1932. Kamen secured the licensing agreement for all Disney merchandising, a contract his firm would hold for over two decades, and quickly monetized Mickey Mouse’s image to aid the cash-strapped company.
One of Kamen’s first projects for Disney was a Mickey Mouse watch produced by Ingersoll-Waterbury Clock Company. The success of the product proved that Disney characters could live in homes across America not just as toys, but as apparel, accessories, and even jewelry. As these collaborations revealed themselves to be enormously profitable, more companies became interested in working with Disney Productions. The success of the merchandise allowed Walt Disney to focus on his first love -- animated films.
On December 21, 1937, Walt Disney Productions premiered its first animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. To celebrate the release of the film, Cartier created a limited-edition gold and enamel charm bracelet featuring the iconic characters sold exclusively at Cartier in New York, Paris and London. On the night of the premiere screening at the Carthay Circle Theater, the bracelet was advertised in the evening’s program for a retail price of $100. Lilian Disney, the beloved wife of Walt Disney, was photographed wearing the Cartier charm bracelet that very night -- an image that has inspired generations of Disney jewelry collectors.
The film was a worldwide success, both critically and in terms of its marketing campaign. With the money made from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs merchandise, Walt was able to build a new state-of-the-art studio in Burbank, California, where even bigger dreams were about to come true.
On February 7, 1940, Walt Disney Productions released Pinocchio, their second animated feature film. This time they opted to premiere the film at the Center Theater in Radio City. A Cartier advertisement with an exclusive Pinocchio charm bracelet and clips were featured centrally in the program.
These rare-to-market bracelets present an exciting opportunity for any Cartier or Disney collector to own their own piece of Disney’s wonderful world. Jewelry is and can make us feel like we are manifesting our sweetest dreams. Now, you can make your dreams come true.
The auction of Important Jewelry on October 1, 2020 offers two examples of these rare bracelets by Cartier in collaboration with Disney.