The Four Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney – UPDATE

BOOK SET WITH PROVENANCE

This is what collecting is all about. Nothing is as stimulating for a collector than finding something that adds to an existing item already in their collection! Years ago (2016) I found a book set at a Yard Sale called The Four Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney published in 1965. As that is my birth year, I just had to have it!

After posting it on this site and reading through them, I put the books on the shelf and basically forgot about them. But they came back to my attention when I found an amazing grouping of provenance for them on a local selling site.

Now I have more information about how this set of books came to be. This post will share my findings with you. But first, be sure to click the link above to my original post.

‘Provenance’ is basically a record of ownership, or documentation, of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticate the object or to confirm its quality. If there is any question about said object, the provenance can be consulted and considered the final word.

My provenance for this set of books starts with a letter from the President of the Grolier Enterprises company stating their purpose, a brief overview of the contents, and of course, The Pitch.

Next comes a 6-page fold out brochure on high gloss paper. It contains 2 pages telling the story of the book set, how it contains no less than 58 of Walt Disney’s stories, and a bit more about the pricing.

Next is a 2-page spread showing the book set itself. We are told its size, how many pages, how many words, and again, that there are 58 breathtaking stories contained within.

Finally, the brochure has another 2-page spread containing a contents of sorts.

I noticed something different in the Uncle Remus image above, lower right. Br’er Bear has a wife called Mrs. Bear and two children called Kubs and Klibs. I kid you not! It appears in the picture that Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Bear are friendly-like, don’t it? In the story they are, until Br’er Rabbit breaks into Br’er Bears house while he is away with his family and steals his honey and makes a mess. The story ends with Br’er Bear trying to knock Br’er Rabbits head off when he learns what’s been done. Now that’s more like it!

Of course, no mail order pitch would be complete without the mail-in card, now would it? And what would this fine collection of four books in a beautiful cover sleeve cost you back in 1965? You could have it sent to your home for no initial charge or postage for a 10-day free trial. If you didn’t like them, just send them back, postage paid, no questions asked. But if you wanted to keep them, you would send Grolier $5.90 and then three more payments of just $5.00 after that, for a total of $20.90 (this included a 95 cent postage charge).

Was this a good deal? Adjusted for inflation, that $20.90 would be the same as $187.47 today. Would you pay almost $200.00 for four hardcover books? If you check the price of books today, that’s not too far off the norm.

Learning that this set of books was only available through this mail order offer was interesting. And that when this preorder pitch was received by the consumer, the books hadn’t even been printed yet!

FUN FACTS: I noticed that the paperwork lists the book set as The Four Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney while the books themselves are labeled The Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney. So somewhere between the pitch and the printing, someone decided to drop the word ‘four’ in the title. Maybe they thought any potential readers could count the amount of books in the set for themselves?

I have many pieces of ephemera in my collection, little scraps of paper that were meant to be used for a specific purpose and then thrown away. But sometimes, these little yellowed gems survive to delight collectors for many more years than ever intended. I’ve tucked these advertising pages into my book set. When they move on to the next collector, they will have the complete story of The Four Wonderful Worlds of Walt Disney!

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