We’ve all done this: We’re browsing in an antique shop or at a flea market and come across a Disney treasure. We know we’ve found something special, but how old is it? We pick it up and turn it over, hoping to find a date. But all we find is a Disney trademark.
…who started it all
But wait! It’s different from the one we know. We pick up another piece of Disneyana, and it has yet another trademark stamped on it! And now we’re all confused. Well, I’m here to clear up that confusion by sharing with you the Disney trademarks that I’ve found over the years, and what I know about their dates:
Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio October 16, 1923 until 1929
There was some rare merchandise produced before this time, but it wasn’t technically ‘Disney’. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit did a tidy little bit of business in a few lines of toys and books before Walt lost him. But for original Disney merchandise, if you can find a Disney Brothers item, you’ve got a gem! But I don’t think a lot of those earliest items had trademark stamps.
Walt Disney Productions 1929 until 1986
This trademark crosses the most amounts of years. So one piece trademarked ‘WDP’ could be old and valuable while another could be newer and relatively worthless. This trademark can be spelled out in full or shortened to the ‘WDP’ letters, or even to ‘Walt Disney Prod’ with all versions being fairly common. It usually depended on how much room was available on the piece in question as to which one was used.
This is the trademark you’re most likely to come across in the average shop or online.
Walt Disney Company February 6, 1986 to the present.
This trademark is usually spelled out in full and is the second most common trademark found today due to the sheer amount of merchandise produced since 1986. Only items produced with this trademark that had limited production runs or that featured sought-after characters will be of any real monetary value.
Disney Enterprises Inc. (No information)
This trademark is rare but it does crop up from time to time.
Disney (Various time periods)
I started to notice this shortened trademark sometime in the early 1990’s and it is in wide use today. But the short ‘Disney’ trademark may also be found on earlier merchandise.
And it’s interesting to note that Disney is now shortening the movie division trademark from ‘Walt Disney Pictures’ and ‘Walt Disney’ to just ‘Disney’.
Keep in mind that any or all of these trademarks can be accompanied by dates.
Although by no means comprehensive, I hope this brief look at Disney trademarks will help you when you’re trying to determine dates during your next visit to a yard sale!