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Barry'd Treasures
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by Barry Allender (archives)
May 21, 2001
This month Barry does a quick history of Disney pins and buttons.

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Disney Buttons and Pins

Disney pins got their start in 1927 with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but Walt Disney lost the rights to that character and we’re lucky he did. Walt was on a train trip with his wife Lillian, coming to Los Angeles from Kansas City and he came up with the name Mortimer Mouse, Lillian did not like that name and said "How about Mickey" and it’s all history from there.

In 1929 the original Mickey Mouse Club started at the Fox Dome Theater in Ocean Park, California and there were Disney buttons for all the officers and buttons with Fox Theater logo on them. These are very rare and cost several hundred dollars today. Around 1932, the Mickey Mouse Club reached its peak, but took almost 20 years to completely disappear. In the mid 1950’s TV was very popular and the original Mouseketeers with Annette Funnicello started a button craze all over again with Mickey Mouse Club buttons. At the same time, Disneyland had just opened and buttons and pins were everywhere, with the names of the park, pictures of Disney characters and even attraction buttons. These buttons continued through the 1960’s and 70’s with many different versions of the Disneyland buttons.

In 1984 something changed the button and pin world. It was the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Bob Morre designed Sam the Eagle the mascot for 84 games. People seemed to go crazy buying, selling and trading pins.

In 1985 Disneyland had a promotion for its 30th birthday called Gift Giver Extraordinaire where guests-entering Disneyland automatically won a prize. Some of these prizes were pins with a Disney character on them corresponding to the different lands in the park. Disney World did the same for its 15th Anniversary in 1986.

Disney Cast Members are given their own buttons which are very rare and desired. The rarest of which was only made for one year for the Disneyland Costume Department. Five different buttons were made, only about 100 buttons were made of each and are worth over $300 each. My favorite among these is one of Maleficent, and the caption on the button says "You want what size!" I can just hear her saying that.

On Oct 1, 1999, something amazing happened again, I never thought I would see it again, but the pin craze hit again for a whole new generation, it started at Walt Disney World. I just happened to be there for it. As I was returning home from a wonderful vacation with my wife Brigitte and son Jordan on the Disney Magic and 5 wonderful days at the Yacht and Beach Club, I saw a kiosk filled with pins, I just stopped in my tracks and said not again. But it was true at least 50 different pins on that first day alone! WOW! I knew this was going to be big. Since that time over 1,000 new pins have surfaced, and that’s not including some of the bootlegs. My favorite Pin is the Press pin (only given to the media) that was given out at Disneyland to start the pin trading there, it has Mickey on it and he’s got a camera and a reporters hat on, its great! Their were only 600 pins made, but only 200 were passed out because of the terrible rain that day. It is the only pin that I own. These pins have been selling in the $400 - $500 dollar range. Lucky me!

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The media pin trading pin

In the 21st Century there are Disney buttons and pins for every event and occasion, a new TV show, an opening of a new land at Disneyland or to commemorate a new Walt Disney sculpture. Will it ever stop? I doubt it. With new movies, Disneyland’s 50th birthday coming up in 2005 and Disney’s new theme park the Tokyo Disney Seas opening in September 2001, I’m positive there will be buttons and pins today, tomorrow and forever!

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-- Barry Allender

Barry'd Treasures is posted the third Monday of each month.

The opinions expressed by our Barry Allender, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted May 21, 2001