The mechanical marvel is a fabulously rare early piece of Disney memorabilia that was made for just a very brief period in the 1930s by Saalheimer and Strauss of Nuremberg, one of the leading tinplate toy manufacturers in Europe.
It was taken to a David Duggleby valuation clinic by a member of the family of Victor Swain, a film-loving small boy who was thrilled to receive the present and treasured it until his death at the age of 97 two years ago.
Duggleby toy specialist Graham Paddison said: “Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928, introducing him to the world in Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon film to have
synchronised music and sounds. It was a huge hit and Mickey became an international star overnight.”
“Saalheimer and Strauss were making a range of tinplate moneyboxes at the time and they secured permission to use Mickey Mouse. They created four variants of this moneybox, with slight differences in the Mickey figure.
"None of them were produced in large numbers before the firm was sold in 1936. They are all incredibly rare today. This is the first I’ve seen in my entire career.”
The version that is going under the hammer at the Vine Street Saleroom on Friday (December 3) is the Type 1, depicting Mickey with folded hands.
A motto on the reverse of the moneybox explains how it works:
‘If you only pull my ear
You will see my tongue appear.
Place a coin upon my tongue
Save your money while you’re young.’
Graham added: “It remains in full working order and in quite remarkable condition for a tinplate novelty that is now almost a century old. Victor apparently kept it on a high shelf – on display but out of the reach of small children.
“Just a handful of examples of this moneybox - or money bank as the collectors call them - have passed through auction rooms in the past few years, all of them in the United States, none in this country as far as we are aware.
"Results have ranged from the $8,000 (£6,000) up to $35,670 (£26,771), a price that was recorded at an auction in Denver as recently as March last year.
"It was actually an American auction result, spotted by Victor’s grandson who was working over there, that alerted the family to the extraordinary rarity and value of their Mickey Mouse moneybox.”
The catalogue for the Toys, Diecast Model Cars, Dolls and Vintage Teddy Bears Auction is available online at davidduggleby.com.
The viewing sessions are at the Vine Street Saleroom in Scarborough on Wednesday December 1 and Thursday December 2 plus on Friday morning from 9am until the start of the auction at 12.30pm. The auction is to be webcast with online bidding through DD Live and thesaleroom.com.