Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lamination, Trimming, Cut and Paste, Oh My! - Variation in Original Animation Cels

Full cel with peg holes and production number lower right of Wart touching the sword Excalibur from "The Sword In The Stone," 1963

Full cel vs. trimmed, lamination, trimmed to image and then applied to another cel; these terms seem to be questions and concerns of many collectors. I thought I would take some time to just go over the history and process of what happens to original production cels after the film is created.

The further you go back in time, the less your chance of having a full untrimmed cel of a given character. This is because Disney Studios and the Courvoisier Gallery (the first gallery to show and sell original animation cels) were not interested in dealing with all this extra space outside of the animated character. Using the example of "Snow White," cels were with trimmed down to a small size say 5" x 5" and then placed on an airbrushed or bright colored paper background; or the character was trimmed to it's very edge and then that adhered to a background. Keep in mind that this was just to make the image as appealing as possible for someone to purchase, the value at the time was very low. As time went by, collectors were unhappy with this small size and wanted to showcase the cel on a large background, that would come closer to what was seen in the original film. This is when the phrase "trimmed and applied," comes into being. The previously trimmed to image cel was then adhered to a much lager acetate sheet, so that now a much larger background could be added to make the work appear as close as possible to the way the cel looked in the actual film.

Trimmed cel of the Mad Hatter from "Alice In Wonderland," 1951

In the 1970's Disney Studios was actively selling animation cels, and with cels comes the possibility of damage to the paint. Disney decided to laminate cels, so that they would be protected forever. Lamination is when the cel is placed between two sheets of plastic and then heat sealed. Unfortunately, after a few years sometimes lamination failure of the cel begins to take place. Colors would bleed outside the outlines of the character or paint would begin to lift (pull away from the original cel). All animation cels can be restored, but laminated cels require much more work and so in many cases the cost of the restoration outweighs the cost of the cel itself.

Trimmed and applied cel of Pinocchio from "Pinocchio," 1940

Many collectors want full animation cels still having their original peg holes and their production numbers along the bottom edge. In the case of the older vintage animation cels, this is practically impossible. Some collectors don't want trimmed and applied, but in the case of the vintage Disney films, so many of the original cels have undergone that process.

Laminated cel of Madame Medusa and Mr. Snoops from "The Rescuers," 1977

For me, in the end I am looking for a beautiful image. I have cels that are trimmed and applied, full cels, and cels that I have paid to be delaminated and then fully restored. Every collector should strive to purchase works that make him/her happy; just don't be so bogged down by limiting yourself by having arbitrary lines of demarcation. In the end, you are acquiring part of animation history and you have a obligation to protect it for the next generation. Have fun collecting!!!