Q. I have a child's table/desk that was manufactured in Naperville, Ill., in the 1930s. Mickey stands on both ends of the tabletop. I was told that only five were made at this time and I am wondering about the value.
A. Mickey Mouse is probably one of the most ubiquitous characters ever created, and certainly one of the most loved.
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He grew from a drawing composed mainly of circles done by Ub Iwerks, and was based in part on a pet mouse Walt Disney (1901-1966) had on his childhood farm. Initially, the new mouse character was called "Mortimer Mouse," but Disney's wife, Lillian, reportedly had her husband change it to "Mickey."
Mickey Mouse made his debut in 1928 in a short film titled "Steamboat Willie," and the rest is really a story that is yet to end. The genius of Walt Disney also shows in his company's ability to merchandise Mickey and his other characters. There are Mickey Mouse plush toys, figurines, dishes, toothbrushes, radios, wristwatches and alarm clocks, among many other things.
We do not know how you know your piece was made in Naperville, but if this turns out to be true, your Mickey Mouse table may have been made by Kroehler Manufacturing. Co. There is some disagreement about the histories of this company (at least what we found), but we believe it probably grew out of the Naperville Lounge Co., which Peter E. Kroehler took over in 1902.
The original facilities were destroyed by a tornado and rebuilt in 1913. Shortly thereafter, the name was changed to Kroehler Manufacturing, and it remained in business in Naperville until 1978.
It would be helpful to know how you came to believe that this is one of only five pieces made. Is it a number based on legend, or is it based on some documentable fact? If it is the former, it will not mean much to collectors, but if it is the latter and concrete, verifiable evidence does exist, it would raise the monetary value significantly.
With this said, if this is a genuine Mickey Mouse table, there should be some licensing information on the table somewhere. As we said earlier, Walt Disney was a master of the business of merchandising and real, Disney-authorized Mickey Mouse items should have licensing information on them.
For the sake of argument, let's say that this table was indeed made in Naperville in the 1930s and is a genuine, licensed Disney item. If this is the case, and if the piece is in excellent condition, the value for insurance purposes should be in the $800 to $1,000 range or perhaps a tad more.
If it can be proven that it is one of only five, that value would probably go up significantly. If, however, it turns out not to be a Disney-licensed product, that price would go down significantly.
• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.