For the past year, media outlets have been reporting that the animation art market is making a comeback, marking a turnaround from a decade of depressed prices. With the year drawing to a close, we can now confirm that the reports are true, and 2013 will go down as a banner year for animation art.

The market continued to pick up steam throughout the year. Auction house Heritage hosted its first-ever auction devoted solely to animation art last February, and followed with a second auction last month that netted $1.3+ million. Profiles in History, which has been doing animation-specific auctions since 2011, ran an animation auction last July, and their second auction this year will take place later this week. Other major auction houses like Bonhams are also testing the waters with animation art, and animation art conserver S/R Laboratories had an auction of its own last October. Meanwhile, veteran animation art dealer Howard Lowery hosts near-weekly online auctions on his website. (Disclosure: Bonhams, Heritage and Profiles in History are Cartoon Brew sponsors.)

What is remarkable about this surge in animation art sales is the sheer amount of quality work that has become available. Every auction I’ve seen this year has had appealing and rare items in it. The consistently high quality can be attributed to a variety of factors. For starters, many collectors had been holding on to their best pieces for years waiting for a good opportunity to put them back onto the market. Secondly, many Golden Age animation artists have passed away in the past decade, and the families of those artists are consigning personal collections that have never been available before. The bottomline is that it’s a really exciting time if you collect animation art. I’m not much of a collector myself, but even I haven’t been able to resist picking up a few pieces this year, and I might add, at affordable prices, too.

The upcoming Profiles in History animation auction will take place this Friday, December 20. To view the artwork, bid online, or register for the live-action, visit their website. Below is a gallery of just a few of the nearly 600 pieces that will go on the auction block this week:

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