A long-lost Disney cartoon showing a prototype for Mickey Mouse is expected to sell for £25,000 at auction after a Herefordshire film library discovered it in its collection.
“How we ended up with the film, I don’t know,” said Amanda Huntley, who runs film company Huntley Archives. “There are a lot of lost films out there. This was made in 1928 and has been in our collection for decades.
“We specialise in social history films and not animation. But my colleague took the film from the shelf and Googled it – I don’t really know why. We quickly realised it was one of the great lost films. We posted the news on specialist web forums and everybody was very excited.”
The film, a five-minute silent cartoon called Hungry Hobos, stars Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and was originally released on 14 May 1928. Walt Disney made 26 films with this character under contract to Universal before moving to his own company and making Mickey Mouse. Huntley explains: “It is significant because it is Disney but also because the character was the prototype of Mickey Mouse. He looks similar even though he’s a rabbit.”
It’s to be auctioned in Los Angeles next month and Stephanie Connell from Bonham’s Entertainment Memorabilia department said: “Hungry Hobos is an incredible find, a lost masterpiece and a cartoon with a unique and vital place in animation history.”