Friday, September 30, 2011

Standard Gasoline

This poster sold at Swann Galleries on August 3 for an impressive $6,500, no doubt because of the image of two very well-known Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Over the years, Walt Disney licensed his cartoon characters for use in a wide variety of advertising. This 1939 poster with Mickey and Minnie taking a moonlit drive to hawk Standard Gasoline strikes me as one of the odder campaigns. Today we're used to seeing these iconic characters primarily in children's and family advertising. There was a time, though, when Disney's characters were used to market gasoline to adult drivers.

Sale 2252 Lot 374
42x28 inches, 106 3/4x71 cm. Walt Disney Productions.
Condition B+ / A-: minor restoration along sharp vertical and horizontal folds; creases in top margin.

Estimate $3,000-4,000
Sold for $6,500

Notes:  Here is my most recent Disney post.

Here is my latest post on poster art.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tête d'homme by Picasso

Pablo Picasso's drawings from the 1920's are among the most beautiful I know of.  Here is one that sold at Christie's New York last year, along with the full auction house listing:

Tête d'homme
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête d'homme 
pastel on paper
27 1/8 x 21 1/8 in. (68.9 x 53.7 cm.)
Drawn in Fontainebleau, summer 1921

Price Realized

  • $6,130,500
  • Price includes buyer's premium
    $5,000,000 - $7,000,000

Sale Information

Sale 2352 Lot 26
Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale 
3 November 2010
New York, Rockefeller Plaza


Marie Cuttoli, Paris (by 1951).
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Mr. and Mrs. George Friedland, Merion, Pennsylvania.
Private collection, Japan.
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Pre-Lot Text
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection: Four Modern Masterpieces
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1951, vol. 4, no. 336 (illustrated, pl. 130).
W. Boeck and J. Sabartes, Picasso, New York, 1955, p. 386, no. 194.
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Neoclassicism I, 1920-1921, San Francisco, 1995, p. 252, no. 21-269 (illustrated).
J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso 1917-1926, Cologne, 1999, p. 302 (illustrated, pl. 1123).
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., Picasso: An American Tribute, April-May 1962, no. 19 (illustrated).
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Collects Twentieth Century, October-November 1963, p. 29 (illustrated, p. 31).

Lot Notes

Picasso drew the pastel Tête d'homme at Fontainebleau near Paris, where he, his wife Olga Khokhlova, and their infant son Paulo spent the summer of 1921. This sojourn proved to be extremely fruitful for the artist. He continued his cubist investigations of the previous decade, completing two versions of Trois musiciens, both masterpieces of synthetic cubism (Zervos, vol. 4, nos. 331 and 332). At the same time, he painted a series of massive, neoclassical female figures, including colossal bathers, giant seated nudes, iconic images of a mother and child, and the greatFemmes à la fontaine (Zervos, vol. 4, no. 322; fig. 1). Whether draped or nude, these figures have the sculptural solidity and idealized features of ancient statuary. Their coiffure, parted in the middle and gently waved, is that of classical goddesses, while their crisp brows and heavy lids look as though they had been carved from stone. Concurrently, Picasso also executed a dozen pastels of heads and busts. Given the powdery texture and subtle tints of this delicate medium, these images are softer, more refined and sensual in their aspect, and it is perhaps not since Picasso's Blue and Rose periods that Picasso drew the human visage with such exquisite sensitivity and charm, even while rendering these images on fairly large sheets of paper, with the heads appearing substantially larger than life-size. Tête d'homme, whose appearance suggests more a downy cheeked boy in his late teens than a grown man, has the distinction of being the only male subject among these hauntingly introspective figures. Stemming from a creative and highly personal synthesis of various classicizing strands in the history of art, this pastel, like its companion works and oil paintings done that summer in Fontainebleau, marks Picasso's ongoing quest to define his own position among ancient and modern masters, as well as his broader meditation on enduring cultural values in the period following the First World War.

Picasso first began to integrate classicizing forms into his art in 1914, after seven years of working in an exclusively cubist mode. His earliest foray into classicism was a series of Ingresque portrait drawings, of which Picasso's dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler later recalled: "He showed me two drawings which were not cubist but classicist: two drawings of a seated man; and he said, 'Better than before, eh?'" (quoted in P. Daix, Picasso: Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 138). In 1917, Picasso made his first realistic figure paintings in more than a decade, a group of portraits depicting his future wife Olga. From 1918 until 1924, he worked simultaneously in two visual idioms, producing classical and cubist masterpieces side-by-side. Despite his sustained commitment to cubism, Picasso's burgeoning neoclassical style prompted accusations from more dogmatic members of the avant-garde that he was repudiating modernism. The poet Pierre Reverdy, for example, published an article in 1917 in which he declared, "Cubism is an art of creation, not of reproduction or interpretation. No cubist painter should execute a portrait" (quoted in M. FitzGerald, "The Modernists' Dilemma: Neoclassicism and the Portrayal of Olga Khokhlova," in Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1996, p. 301). Picasso, in turn, rejected this teleological view of art history, proclaiming in an interview in 1923, "The several manners I have used in my art must not be considered an evolution. If the subjects I have wanted to express have suggested different ways of expression I have never hesitated to adopt them" (quoted in D. Ashton, ed.,Picasso on Art, New York, 1972, p. 5).

During the 1920s, the classicizing of pictorial styles became commonplace among Parisian artists as a response to a general rappel à l'ordre ("call to order"), an invocation of humanism and rational ideals as the necessary antidote to the violent upheaval and mechanized slaughter of the First World War. The return to order was a return to the figure, as one would recognize it in historical forms. In this context, Picasso's renewed exploration of a representational style has sometimes been considered a retreat from modernism, and it has even been suggested that the artist's move toward legibility was a response to chauvinistic attacks on cubism as a product of German culture. Analysis of Picasso's neoclassicism as part of a conservative post-war movement, however, fails to take into account both his continued exploration of cubism during this period and the fact that his earliest classicizing works actually pre-date the outbreak of hostilities. Offering a more nuanced reading of Picasso's neoclassicism, Michael FitzGerald has written, "Among the many phases of Picasso's work, neoclassicism is perhaps the most controversial, because its stylistic eclecticism and widespread popularity have led some writers to criticize it as a reactionary departure from modernism. When placed in the context of cultural developments during World War I, however, Picasso's neoclassicism is better understood as a renewal of the avant-garde. By explicitly embracing history, Picasso escaped the strictures of an increasingly rigid modernism to define a more vital alternative. He repudiated the convention of modernism's ahistoricism in order to acknowledge its maturity, as well as his own, and rejuvenate the avant garde by immersing it in the rich humanistic traditions that many cubist artists and theorists denied in a search for formal purity" (op. cit., p. 297).

The sources for Picasso's neoclassicism are extraordinarily rich and varied. In 1917, during a trip to Rome to design stage-sets for Diaghilev's ballet Parade, Picasso made excursions to see the ruins of ancient Pompeii. The dancer and choreographer Léonide Massine, who accompanied Picasso to Pompeii, later recalled the artist's exhilaration at the site: "Picasso was thrilled by the majestic ruins and climbed endlessly over broken columns to stand staring at fragments of Roman statuary" (quoted in J. Clair, ed., Picasso, 1917-1924: The Italian Journey, exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 1998, pp. 79-80). He visited the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, and probably purchased a postcard of the Farnese Juno (fig. 2), now thought to be the goddess Artemis, a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture made in the fifth century BC. This sculpture would provide the basic model for Picasso's female Fontainebleau heads. Picasso also took the opportunity to study examples of ancient fresco painting; a photograph taken by Cocteau at Pompeii shows Picasso pointing to a painting of Bacchus and Silenus, and the artist brought home postcards, now in the Musée Picasso, of other Pompeian wall paintings. The muted, earthy palette of Picasso's Fontainebleau canvases and pastels suggests the tones of ancient fresco technique. Before returning to Paris, Picasso visited Florence, where he admired the primitives in the Uffizi, the paintings of Raphael, and the sculptures of Michelangelo.

In addition to referencing Greek and Roman prototypes, Picasso's paintings from the early 1920s acknowledge the neoclassical tradition of Poussin, Ingres, and Puvis de Chavannes. He was also drawn to the carved stone reliefs of the 16th century Fontainbleau sculptor Jean Goujon, and attended an exhibition of Fontainebleau school drawings on view in the town chateau. He had in mind voluptuous, classicized nudes of Renoir, which took center stage at the Galerie Paul Rosenberg, where Picasso began to exhibit in 1919. In his first show at Rosenberg's gallery, Picasso included a drawing titled D'après Renoir, and he purchased at least seven of Renoir's late nudes. Finally, Picasso's Fontainebleau paintings and pastels hark back to his own paintings from the summer of 1906 at Gósol, which drew heavily on classical models. Commenting on the range of pictorial and thematic possibilities that he quarried from the history of art during this period, Picasso himself stated, "To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was" (quoted in D. Ashton, ed., op. cit., p. 4).

In their rich amalgamation of historical sources, the visages that appear in Picasso's paintings and pastels during his Fontainebleau summer transcend any conventional definition or function of portraiture, even if they ostensibly bear a recognizable resemblance to Picasso's wife Olga. Indeed, it was the figure of Olga that had inspired Picasso in 1917 to make his first oil paintings in the neoclassical mode, and her image continued to permeate his unique brand of classicism for the next six years. In a photograph that Picasso took in his Fontainebleau studio, Olga is posed in the midst of a group of five pastel heads related to Femmes à la fontaine, all of which share her crisply defined features, parted and waved coiffure, and air of poise and reserve (fig. 3). Elizabeth Cowling has written: "the volumes of the head are simplified and idealised; the nose and forehead are continuous; the hair is arranged in the traditional Greek manner; the eyes stare blankly; the expression is impassive [Zervos, vol. 4, no. 347; fig. 5]," (On Classic Ground, exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1990, p. 213).

Having passed the image of Olga through the lens of history, Picasso has idealized and ennobled his wife. In the present Tête d'homme, the artist has subjected her to a further transformation, remaking semblances of Olga's visage into the face of a masculine youth. Here Picasso used as his model from antiquity the Farnese Head of Antinous which he had seen in Naples (fig. 5). Pastel was indeed the perfect medium for this image; the boy's softly androgynous features lend his expression a quality which is more intriguingly enigmatic--and most engagingly so--than nearly any other among the female heads. Robert Rosenblum has written, "Picasso's backward evolution to the pure and vigorous origins of classical art has a more personal inflection than that of his contemporaries; and his familiar quotations from ideal beauty are imbued with a quivering physical and psychological life that reflects his mysterious, Pygmalion-like power as their creator" (in Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 270). Picasso appears to have been fond of this male head, and during 11-12 February 1923 he made from it a charcoal drawing (Zervos, vol. 5, no. 13; fig. 6), which furnished the male persona who took on roles as a lover, ballet dancer, saltimbanque and harlequin in paintings completed during the remainder of that winter.

The very scale of the head contributes to the aura of mystery surrounding this mild youth who has been cast adrift in art history. Picasso's enlargement of the normal dimensions of the head was indeed intended to lend a heroic, monumental character to his classical figures, so that they would stand apart from conventional portraits and evoke hauntingly ambiguous dimensions of time and place. John Richardson has put his finger on a pressing interest that also motivated the artist in this regard: "Picasso was still very eager to work on a heroic scale and challenge Matisse's magnificent murals for Shchukin. The experience of designing theater decors had taught him, among other tricks of the trade, how to gauge effects of scale at varying distances; so had the experience of seeing François I's decorations in situ as well as up close. Some had been taken off the wall and were on exhibit in Fontainebleau's Jeu de Paume. Picasso now felt ready to tackle subjects far larger than himself. The lure of sculpture, or, rather, the lure of becoming a sculptor should also be taken into account. Since Picasso lacked the requisite facilities--space, equipment, and above all, time--that monumental sculpture requires, he set about doing paintings in a classical vein that would double as conceptual sculptures. To simulate the matte look of stone, he executed his nudes and heroic-sized heads in pastel or sanguine, sometimes on canvas" (Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, New York, 2007, p. 196).

Like his earlier preoccupation with cubism, Picasso's classicism reflected an inner imperative, but to a greater extent than his cubism, the artist's classical heads were a grand public statement that addressed the culture in which he lived and worked, and consequently were less revealing of his private emotions. This outward-looking approach and externalized embodiment of shared ideals was in keeping with the "call to order." Picasso consequently offered his take on the repertory of classicized female deities who represented the French nation in popular patriotic imagery during the war and post-war period. Although Picasso's classical matrons are far too generalized to function as explicit allegories, they nonetheless stand as an evocative counterpart to the ubiquitous VictoriesGlories, and Patries of the popular press. Kenneth Silver has written, "Just as the French nation during the war turned to l'histoire--in its dual aspect of history and 'story' or myth--for moral support, so Picasso creates a mythic antique world that nonetheless has the weight and reassuring gravity of truth" (in Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, Princeton, 1989, p. 278). His imposing female figures and heads exude a sense of ripeness and fertility; Picasso's maternity subjects, beneath the veneer of their traditional genre charm, could be read as a subtle reminder to the survivors of the Great War that it was now time to be fruitful and multiply, to replenish the vast legions of fathers and sons lost in battle. Picasso, for his part, had accomplished just that with the recent birth of his son. In depicting a male head, that of a strong but gentle youth, innocent and as yet untested, but with a serious and determined gaze, Picasso has created an even more potent symbol of regeneration and cultural renewal. Moreover, looking beyond the past and present and well into the future, Picasso may have visualized an idealized image of Paulo, as his own son might one day stand before him.

(fig. 1) Pablo Picasso, Trois femmes à la fontaine, Fontainebleau, summer 1921. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Barcode: 2800 0334

(fig. 2) The Farnese Bust of Juno, copy of the original Alkamenes, 5th century BC. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples.
Barcode: 2800 0112

(fig. 3) Pablo Picasso, Olga Picasso in the Fontainebleau Studio, photograph, autumn, 1921. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.
Barcode: 2800 0105 FIG

(fig. 4) Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme, Fontainebleau, September 1921. Formerly in the collection of Billy Wilder; sold, Christie's New York, 13 November 1989, lot 30.
Barcode: 2800 0327

(fig. 5) The Farnese Head of Antinous, Roman copy, second century AD from the Greek original, first half of the fifth century BC. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples.
Barcode: 2800 0112

(fig. 6) Pablo Picasso, Tête de jeune homme, 11-12 February 1923. Private collection.
Barcode: 2800 0143
[Figures not included]
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Tête d'homme 

pastel on paper
27 1/8 x 21 1/8 in. (68.9 x 53.7 cm.)
Drawn in Fontainebleau, summer 1921

Note:  My previous post on Picasso is here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A John Adams Letter from 1776

Having just finished David McCullough's fascinating biography John Adams, I was intrigued to see this ALS (autograph letter signed) coming up for auction at Bonhams on October 10. The U.S., of course, was singularly blessed in its Founding Fathers, some of the most remarkable men of their time, or indeed of any time. They were educated, totally dedicated to the cause of freedom, and not incidentally prolific letter writers.

There are collectors today who seek out autographs by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. There are also those who collect signatures of the U.S. Presidents. For them, and also for anyone with an interest in American history, what could be more desirable then a full two-sided letter written by John Adams in the year 1776? Adams, in addition to his many other services to the emerging nation, was the father of the Continental Navy. This letter to William Cooper of the Massachusetts House of Representatives informs him of the construction of new ships for the Navy. It also suggests obliquely that the second Continental Congress may be coming close to agreement on declaring independence from Great Britain. This, then, is an important letter that is evidently fresh to the market. I have no idea what this should sell for, but the estimate of $50,000 to $80,000 barely seems to acknowledge its tremendous historical significance.

Lot No: 1221
ADAMS, JOHN. 1735-1826.
Autograph Letter Signed ("John Adams"), 2 pp, 4to(conjoined leaves), Watertown, January 4, 1776, to William Cooper, light dust-soiling, lower edge uneven, neatly repaired tear in margin.

ADAMS COMMUNICATES NEWS OF THE FIRST DEDICATED CONTINENTAL NAVY VESSELS: "the Honourable House will soon receive authentic Intelligence of a considerable naval Force ordered by the Congress to be prepared, as I am well informed they have resolved to build Thirteen Ships five of Thirty two Guns, five of Twenty Eight and Three of Twenty four."
Adams asks Cooper, a member of the House of Representatives in the Massachusetts provisional government, to pass this news on to the House. The Continental Navy was created in October of 1775, with a number of merchantmen refitted as men-of-war, and with regulations drafted by Adams himself. In mid-December, Congress ordered the construction of a number of new vessels, "which together with those fitted out before by the Continent, and by particular Colonies as well as private Persons, it is hoped, will be a security, in Time to come, against the Depredations of Cutters and Tenders at least, if not against single ships of War."
Otherwise, he writes, he has "no particular Intelligence to communicate from the Honourable Congress ... only I beg leave to say that as much Harmony and Zeal is still prevailing in that honourable Assembly as ever appeared at any time, and that their Unanimity and Firmness increase."
Until now the letter has been known only from a transcript in the hand of W.C. Ford held by the Massachusetts Historical Society, published in the Papers of John Adams (Harvard University Press, 1977).

Estimate: US$50,000 - 80,000

October 10, 2011 Update: Unsold.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The King's Stilts

From Illustration House comes this listing for a rare children's book illustration by Dr. Seuss from The King's Stilts.  Few original book illustrations by this favorite artist come to the market for reasons explained in the listing, but it nevertheless may be a stretch to ask $130,000 for this one.  Still, there's simply not much out there for avid collectors, and some enterprising individual just may be willing to pay the steep price.

This piece is part of an exhibition that opened on February 27, 2010.  I do not know whether any of the illustrations are still available.

Dr. Seuss, Original Illustration from The King's Stilts, 1939

Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel


Boy tries to warn the King, but is intercepted by Lord Droon.

Book illustration: The King's Stilts, by Dr. Seuss; Publisher: (Random House), 1939;
Ink and gouache en grisaille, 13 x 9", signed ll


Published children's book drawings by Dr. Seuss are extremely scarce on the market, as the artist made a bequest of virtually his entire such output to the Geisel Library at UCSD.
Provenance - Los Angeles literary agent Frances Pindyke.

Condition - Good overall: slightly trimmed at top; matted and framed.

This illustrates the passage where the page boy Eric tries to warn the King of Lord Droon’s nefarious attempt to usurp the King’s power, but is intercepted by Droon himself, who locks Eric up in quarantine, pretending that he sees symptoms of measles. It’s a full page illustration, a fine one, from a memorably dramatic moment in the story. This drawing sold at an Illustration House auction in December 2007 for $80,500.
Dr. Seuss, Book Cover, The King's Stilts

My previous post on Seuss's Thoober is right here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Tiffany Seahorse Special Order Flask

This stunning special order sterling silver flask retailed by Tiffany & Co., c. 1893, was sold on September 21 at Bonhams in New York for a hammer price of $4,000, or $5,000 with the buyer's premium. The seahorse design is splendid, and tarnish adds boldness and contrast to the contour. To collectors today, special order items are among the most desirable objects produced by Tiffany & Co.

Lot No: 8041
Property from a Florida private collection
An American sterling silver special order flask, Manufactured and retailed by Tiffany & Co., New York, circa 1893
Hammered surface with applied and chased seahorse opposed by acid-etched seaweed monogram WS(?)/Xmas/1893, approximately 6 oz troy.
length 5 7/8in (15cm)

Sold for US$5,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Belvedere Torso by Heemskerck

Maerten van Heemskerck brings a fluid pen technique to his study of The Belvedere Torso. His hatching and crosshatching technique strikes me as quite fine. He seems to have exaggerated the spinal flexion and rotation of the Torso, making for a very dynamic drawing.

Maerten van Heemskerck (ca. 1498, Heemskerck, Netherlands - ca. 1574)
Haarlem, Netherlands
School: Dutch

The Belvedere Torso 1532 - 1537
Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Germany
Graphics: Pen and ink on paper

The Belvedere Torso

Note:  My post entitled Study of the Belvedere Torso by Rubens can be found here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Donn Tatum's Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks: Dimidus Asinus Genius

Donn Tatum (1913-1993) was a President of Walt Disney Productions, indeed he was the first President who was not a member of the Disney family. That's his name on the tribute window above Crystal Arts in Disney World.  Having one's name on a window on Main Street USA is of course considered a great Disney park honor.

A few years after his death, some of Tatum's personal Disney memorabilia was auctioned off by S/R Laboratories, an animation art gallery and restorer. At this sale, I discovered and purchased a pair of large blue enamel cufflinks depicting the head of Professor Ludwig Von Drake and adorned with the Latin words "Dimidus Asinus Genius." Von Drake is wearing a laurel, as befits a Latin scholar.

Donn Tatum's Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks, Dimidus Asinus Genius

Now I myself am no Latin scholar, but for purposes of expediency I'm going to take it upon myself to translate this arcane phrase as "A Half the Genius of an Ass," which I take to be something of a corporate inside joke. When was the last time American businessmen made Latin jokes in the board room? I take it Tatum must have gone to a private school.

Since this sale some years ago, I've been very curious to learn whether there are other examples of cufflinks like this, but I've never come across anything even remotely similar. It even could be possible they are unique, although I would hazard it more likely that at least a few might have been made available to other Disney honchos, particularly if they were also "geniuses." I'm quite sure these were never offered for sale to the general public, with the exception of course of that one estate sale where I eagerly snatched them up! The thing is, there must be quite an interesting story behind these, but, for the most part, we can only speculate what that might be. Certainly Disney's top corporate brass had a sense of humor and of humility.

Donn Tatum's Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks, Dimidus Asinus Genius

By the way, I firmly believe all men reading this should get in the habit of wearing shirts with french cuffs, so they can take full advantage of interesting cufflinks when they find them. Yes, my blog offers useful fashion advice, too!

Update October 2, 2011 Update: Today I found a site called Pin Pics which showcases images of Disney pins. Just released this summer for the fiftieth anniversary of Professor Ludwig Von Drake is a limited edition (500) pin with this very same design. Wow! My cufflinks have to be between 18 and 50 years old, which means that this design languished somewhere in an enamel workshop for perhaps two decades or more before being reused. This could make sense. It's just possible the cufflinks were designed for Von Drakes twenty-fifth anniversary and then the whole thing was reintroduced as a limited edition pin design for his fiftieth.

Here's the information from Pin Pics:

Pin 86408: D23 - 2011 EXPO Professor Ludwig Von Drake GENIUS
Class:Disney Pins
Type:Event Only
Limited Edition:500 Pins
SKU Number:Unknown
Original Price:
Categories:Cartoon/Short film; D23; Series
Members Trading:
Members Wanting:
Described by Walt Disney as "a renowned scientist, lecturer, psychologist and world traveler," Professor Ludwig Von Drake is the leading authority on absolutely everything. Cheerfully absent-minded and ever-oblivious to his surroundings, Ludwig's lectures most often go awry. For this commemorative pin, celebrating Ludwig Von Drake's 50th Anniversary of his premiere on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, the didactic duck makes sure everyone is listening for they may be scolded for their lack of attention. This 6 sided pin shows Professor Ludwig Von Drake wearing a laurel wreath on his head with the words DIMIDUS ASINUS GENIUS. The back has the D23 official symbol and limited edition 500.
Added 2011-09-06 10:34:12, Updated 2011-09-27 18:36:27

October 3, 2011 Update:  I went ahead and purchased this pin on eBay.  I'm sure I overpaid, but I just have to see how it compares to the Donn Tatum cufflinks. Blogging is getting to be expensive.
2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin

I may have to rethink my conviction that the cufflinks were never made available to the general public. I had assumed that the Latin phrase made this a somewhat elitist item suitable only for board members. Apparently I have underestimated the general public's regard for the classics! Either that or the world has changed a lot in 25 years.

October 23, 2011 Update:  Placing the cufflinks and the trading pin side by side yields a new surprise. I had always considered the Ludwig Von Drake cufflinks conspicuously large, but they are dwarfed by the limited edition pin!

Side by Side Comparison of Ludwig Von Drake
Dimidus Asinus Genius Cufflinks (Top)
and 2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin (Bottom)

Side by Side Comparison of the Backs of Ludwig Von Drake
Dimidus Asinus Genius Cufflinks (Top)
and 2011 D23 Official Disney Fan Club Pin (Bottom)

Can you provide more information? If you have images of cufflinks or other Disney jewelry in any way similar to these, please get in touch with me through the comments or via the email address associated with this blog. So far, I believe these are the only Ludwig Von Drake cufflinks described on the internet, but I'm curious whether more are out there. Similarly, any information about Donn Tatum specifically relating to these cufflinks would be welcome.

January 9, 2021 Update:  After all these years, a second pair of these cufflinks has come to light on eBay. The buyer, TNBIB, made inquiries of the seller and obtained some background information as well as tantalizing hints of other Ludwig Von Drake cufflinks hidden deep inside the Disney vaults. Here then are TNBIB's well-considered findings along with four photographs:

I purchased these from a very reliable source; a verifiable former cast member of 21 years who resides in the Burbank, CA area. (I will refer to him as Fred.) My cuff links are verifiably from the Disney Archives and have, until now, never left the hands of this former Disney Cast Member. Additionally, Fred tells me, without a doubt, there is still a box of them packed away deep in the Disney Archives like the Ark at the end of "Raiders!"

Photo by TNBIB

So allow me to hypothesize, using the info I know on these cuff links and from all I know about Disney after collecting for over 30 years. I truly believe there is a LOT more to this story that right now we just don’t know. Like who made them and why? They are verifiably an authentic Disney item. Once created they were not sold, distributed, or given away but instead locked away in the Disney Archives for some unknown reason. We know one set went into Donn Tatum’s hands, which helps us date them to some extent, unless they were perhaps older and he got a set from the Disney Archives. The other set known to be outside of the Disney Archives belonged to Fred (the former Cast member of 21 years) and are now owned by me.
Photo by TNBIB

With all my experience at collecting and studying Disney, I ask my self why would Disney have made these then locked them away? I think the answer has to do with the inscription, “Dimidus Asinus Genius”. First, whoever created these had a fantastic sense of humor. “Half-assed Genius” in Latin is hilarious and in itself, genius. Second, it would be very “un-Disney” to sell an item calling any character “half-assed”, even in Latin. At least it would have been the case around the time that Walt and Roy Disney were at the helm of the company and perhaps even into the onset of Donn Tatum’s leadership. We know for sure that these were locked away along with the back story. Why is anyone’s guess for now. However, they were NOT forgotten by any means. Someone in the Archives is well aware of these and the back story. Disney has a history of being “sneaky” so to speak. They love to introduce items available to the public while quietly hiding the back story of this special item just to “tease” us. Once in a while we unlock the secret but more often than not, we are fooled and never even know something is going on. And l believe they did just that with a “silent salute” to these cuff links in 2011. D23, the Official Disney Fan Club which is supported and run by Disney, created a special edition pin using the design of these cuff links in 2011 with a very limited edition size of 500. (I believe this is pin #86408.) This was created as a part of the 50th “anniversary” of Ludwig Von Drake celebration. These were part of the “Disney Archives Treasure Trove” store at the D23 Expo on August 19, 2011 – now, does this sound familiar?? Not much else was shared about this pin or its design when these were sold which would be VERY typical of Disney when there is a hidden back story. They were just issued and sold. But it does tie us back to the fact that these exist in the Disney Archives and 100% verifies Fred’s story! Disney is well aware of these cuff links hidden in the Archives and most likely someone there knows the entire story. Why else would these have been replicated in pin form for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Ludwig Von Drake and done so clearly stating these were from the Disney Archives Treasure Trove?

Photo by TNBIB

We will have to keep searching for someone who may know the “inside” story on these pins, but for now I think there are a couple of things we now know for sure. One, we may have begun to unlocked one of the secrets that has been hidden for so many years. Two, there are only 2 sets of these cuff links known to exist outside of the Disney Archives. I am proud to own a set of these and yes I will be wearing them occasionally. I will also continue to dig and search for the rest of the story and hopefully one day we can unlock the full mystery of the Dimidus Asinus Genius Ludwig Von Drake cuff links!

Photo by TNBIB

For now there are 2 “half-assed geniuses” running around with these cuff links. Could there be more? Time will tell.

Thanks, TNBIB. For the sake of posterity, I have taken the liberty of archiving the eBay auction here:

Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks
eBay listing ended January 3, 2021

Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks
eBay item description

Ludwig Von Drake Cufflinks
eBay bid history

Note:  My most recent Disney post is here.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Charles Demuth: Apples and Crocuses

Charles Demuth was a master watercolorist.  Two of his works in this medium are going up on the auction block this coming Tuesday. Crocuses is one of those floral watercolors that just seems absolutely luminous. Apples is mostly unpainted and its estimate seems on the high side to me. Still, it's clearly similar to other Demuth watercolors of the same subject.

Charles Demuth (1883-1935) 
signed 'C. Demuth.' (lower left) 
watercolor and pencil on paper
10½ x 8 in. (26.7 x 20.3 cm.) 


    $30,000 - $50,000
October 9, 2011:  Unsold
Sale Information
Sale 2467  Lot 14
Fine American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture 
27 September 2011
New York, Rockefeller Plaza 
The artist.
[With]Alfred Stieglitz, New York.
Mrs. A. Stewart Walker, Southampton, New York.
Pre-Lot Text
Property of the Rumsey-Harriman Collection; Estate of Mrs. Charles C. Rumsey
E. Farnham, Charles Demuth: His Life, Psychology and Works, vol. II, Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1959, pp. 644-45, no. 581.

Charles Demuth (1883-1935) 


watercolor and pencil on paper
8 x 8 in. (20.3 x 20.3 cm.), image; 10 x 12¼ in. (25.4 x 31.1 cm.), sheet 


    $25,000 - $35,000
    October 9, 2011:  Unsold
Sale 2467  Lot 15
Fine American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture 
27 September 2011
New York, Rockefeller Plaza 


Private collection, New York.
By descent to the present owner.
Pre-Lot Text

Related works:

Apples (Peaches, A Double-Sided Work), c.1925, Menconi & Schoelkopf Fine Art, LLC

Still Life: Apples and Green Glass, 1925
Watercolor and graphite on ivory wove paper
300 x 350 mm
The Art Institute of Chicago
Olivia Shaler Swan Memorial Collection, 1933.473

Three Red Apples (double sided), c.1929, 10 x 14 in., Jill Newhouse Gallery, previously with Sotheby's USA 2009