Lost original Addams Family cartoons sell at auction for £24,000

Mysterious and spooky! Lost original Addams Family cartoons sell at auction for £24,000 – after they were kept by granddaughter of builder who ‘acquired’ them while working on house in London in the 1940s

  • Three lost original drawings of the Addams Family by creator Charles Addams are up for auction for £24,000 
  • Original works were acquired by a builder working in a house in London in 1940s and given to granddaughter  
  • The woman, in her 50s, from Cornwall, said she doesn’t know how her grandfather ‘acquired’ them

Three lost original drawings of the Addams Family by the creator of the macabre cartoons have been put up for auction in Cornwall after a builder ‘acquired’ them and left them to his granddaughter.

The never-before-seen works were created by American artist Charles Addams and are so rare that the world’s leading expert on Addams assumed they must have been forgeries when they were put up for auction by a woman in Falmouth, Cornwall.

But a closer examination of the trio of watercolour drawings confirmed they were original works by Addams dating back to the 1940s.

The original works had been passed down to the woman auctioning them, in her 50s, by her grandfather who she believes acquired them whilst working as a builder working in a house in London in the 1940s.

At the time Addams’ cartoons of the morbid characters Gomez and Morticia Addams, Uncle Fester and Lurch the butler, were being published in the New Yorker magazine.

This drawing of Grandmama, Wednesday & Pugsley baking bat cookies sold for £6,000. Three lost original drawings of the Addams Family by the creator of the macabre cartoons were discovered in a house in Cornwall

A drawing titled ‘Oh, it’s you! For a moment you gave me quite a start.’ sold for £6,500.  The never-before-seen works were created by American artist Charles Addams

It wasn’t until the 1960s that they were turned into a TV series. 

The builder’s granddaughter kept the works for years at her home in Cornwall before making them available for sale at auction.

Their discovery caused such a stir among collectors that they sold for a combined £24,000.

Auctioneer Mimi Connell Lay said: ‘Charles Addams did have an English publisher and the only logical conclusion is that he sent these works to the publisher in the 1940s.

‘But we don’t know how the seller’s grandfather came by them.

‘We spoke to Kevin Miserocchi, the director of the Charles Addams Foundation, about them and he initially thought they must have been fake.

‘But there was no way they were fake.

‘Our vendor is aged in her 50s and had known these cartoons all of her life.

‘She told us her grandfather had acquired them in the 1940s.

‘But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the Addams Family became really big and it is so implausible that somebody would have been producing fakes in the 1940s.

The drawing titled ‘It’s the children, darling, back from camp.’ sold for £11,500. The original works by Addams date back to the 1940s

‘Kevin Miserocchi agreed and helped us to catalogue them.’

The most expensive cartoon was one titled ‘It’s the children, darling, back from camp.’

The 16ins by 12ins work depicts Lurch, Morticia and Gomez, receiving children Wednesday and Pugsley in cat baskets from a nervous delivery driver.

It sold for £11,500 including fees.

Classic: The first live-action Addams starred John Astin as Gomez, Carolyn Jones as Morticia, Lisa Loring as Wednesday, Ken Weatherwax as Pugsley and Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, above in 1965

Toon town: A Hanna-Barbera cartoon followed, airing from one 16-episode stretch in 1973, above

Cartoonist Charles Addams using a model for his drawing of The Addams Family, similar to those auctioned above

Charles Addams: The creator of The Addams Family 

Charles Addams, was born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1912, and was credited with becoming one of America’s best cartoonists with his work enjoining ‘such dichotomies in wonderfully crafted cartoons and drawings loved by millions worldwide’. 

At the age of 21, in 1933, Addams’ drawings were published by the The New Yorker magazine. He continued contributing to the magazine until his death in 1988.

He is believed to have made thousands of works over 60 years of drawing, with 15 books of his artwork published and collections across the globe containing his work, including: The New York Public Library, The Museum of the City of New York, The Smithsonian Institution, The Cooper Hewitt and The Library of Congress. 

Mr Addams is most widely known for the creation of The Addams Family – the now famous gruesome but endearing characters of Morticia, Fester, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Lurch and Thing. 

Source: Charles Addams Foundation 

A similar sized watercolour drawing called ‘Oh, it’s you! For a moment you gave me quite a start’, depicts Lurch waiting on Morticia. It sold for £6,500.

The third cartoon Addams Family cartoon is untitled and shows Grandmama, Wednesday & Pugsley baking bat cookies. It sold for £6,000.

All of the works were signed by Charles Addams in the bottom right corner.

The Addams Family began as a print cartoon from the artist in 1938, following the strange lives of a family of spooky, but charming characters.

It was eventually adapted into a live-action TV series starring John Astin as romantic patriarch Gomez, Carolyn Jones as the alluring mom Morticia, Lisa Loring as dark daughter Wednesday, Ken Weatherwax as their sweet son Pugsley and Jackie Coogan as eccentric Uncle Fester.

The ABC series ran for two seasons, from 1964 to 1966.

A Hanna-Barbera cartoon followed, airing from one 16-episode stretch in 1973.

Hanna-Barbera reprised the series again in 1992 and later Fox Family Channel hosted the characters on the animated The New Addams Family in 65 episodes from 1998 to 1999.

But perhaps the most memorable depictions of the family were in the 90s films. 

1991’s The Addams Family was a sensation, largely because of a star-packed cast which included Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Raul Julia as Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and a young Christina Ricci as Wednesday. 

After earning a health $191million at the box-office, the Barry Sonnenfeld-directed feature was followed by the 1993’s Addams Family Values. 

Iconic: The family became a modern sensation with 1991’s The Addams Family, which featured  a star-packed cast that included Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Raul Julia as Gomez, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and a young Christina Ricci as Wednesday

Replacements: 1998’s Addams Family Reunion – a straight-to-video offering – was less of a hit, featuring Tim Curry and Darryl Hannah as the morbid mother and father

Modern: There was also a 2019 computer-animated version of The Addams Family, which is set to get a sequel September 2021

1998’s Addams Family Reunion – a straight-to-video offering – was less of a hit, featuring Tim Curry and Darryl Hannah as the morbid mother and father.

In more recent years the property has been given the animated treatment again.

A 2019 version jointly produced by MGM, Nitrogen Studios, Cinesite Studios and The Jackal Group did well enough to warrant a sequel, which is due out October 8 2021.

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