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Abraham Lincoln-signed carte de visite, estimated at $100,000-$150,000 at University Archives.

Lincoln-signed CDV and Courvousier Disney cels turn heads at University Archives June 26

WILTON, CT — Signed just three weeks prior to his assassination, University Archives brings an 1865 carte de visite (CDV) bearing the image of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American president, to market. The Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Books and Space Memorabilia sale takes place Wednesday, June 26 with a complete 509-lot catalog now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Photographer Anthony Berger photographed Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) at the Matthew Brady Studios in Washington, DC on February 9, 1864. Carte de visites were hugely popular in this period, with the advent of affordable reproduction making photography accessible to millions. CDVs were routinely traded by collectors, and they could be found in most American and European homes. This example is inscribed to the back with a curious message: [The President’s photograph] was procured for L.E. Sle[?] by Wm. Slade, confidential messenger to his Excellency. March 25th 1865. The date is three weeks prior to Lincoln’s assassination.

University Archives notes this CDV previously sold at Christie’s in December 2005 for $57,600. The 3 by 5.5in CDV has been graded PSA graded Gem MT 10 and comes with an accompanying letter of authenticity. It carries an estimate of $100,000-$150,000.

Guthrie Courvousier (1903-1966) was a San Francisco fine art dealer who worked with his father and was highly respected in his day. Their gallery specialized in oils and other traditional art forms, but Courvousier took note of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the 1937 Walt Disney Productions release that elevated cartoon animation to the level of art, and saw a massive opportunity.

He approached Walt and Roy Disney with a plan to market animation cells in galleries (his, of course), and make a handsome profit by limiting their availability and selling them to art collectors. The Disneys agreed, and from 1938 to 1946, Courvousier had the exclusive right to sell Disney cels, ranging in price from $5 to $75 and more for key frames from well-known scenes.

Courvousier and Walt Disney Productions agreed to go their separate ways in 1946, and Disney began selling cels independently. As late as the 1970s, visitors to Disneyland could buy matted cels in the established prewar ‘Courvousier’ style. Two such examples from 1952’s Pluto’s Christmas Party are star lots at University Archives, and with good reason: they are inscribed and boldly signed by the man himself, Walt Disney. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse both carry individual estimates of $4,500-$6,000.