Collectors Corner: Peanuts and Snoopy
By Michele Alice
Seventeen thousand, eight hundred and ninety-seven (17,897). That's the total number of published Peanuts strips created by Charles M. Schulz.
From the first daily strip appearing in papers on October 2, 1950 until last on Sunday, February 13, 2000 (just one day after he passed away at the age of 77), Schulz never considered Peanuts anything other than a labor of love. In the almost 50-year span of his work creating the strip, he took just one vacation, a five-week break in late 1997.
Schulz is reported to have said that "if you want to know me, read my strip." Everything in the strip was as he wished it, with one exception. He intensely disliked the name Peanuts. "It was the worst title ever thought up for a comic strip," Schulz insisted.
So, why did he call it that? He didn't. Schulz had originally named his strip "Li'l Folks", but when he approached United Feature to syndicate his creation, the company feared copyright complications with a previous work called "Little Folks" by cartoonist Tack Knight. Purportedly inspired by the "peanut gallery" on "The Howdy Doody Show", someone at United Feature consequently bestowed the appellation "Peanuts" on Charles Schulz's gaggle of little people.
By the mid-60s, Peanuts had grown into a global phenomenon, and Charlie Brown and his friends were welcomed into the homes of hundreds of millions of people in over 75 countries. At the height of its popularity, the strip appeared in 2600 newspapers, and even now, 15 years after Schulz's death, Peanuts continues to be reprinted in papers everywhere.
Charlie Brown and the gang have been featured in numerous television shows, motion pictures, books, magazines, and ads. They've appeared on postage stamps, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, and NASA modules. It's been estimated that by the end of the 20th century, up to 20,000 merchandise tie-ins were being marketed each year.
It's only natural that the wealth of material and the widespread fondness for the strip have fostered a huge market for Peanuts collectibles. Animation cels and original art naturally command the highest prices (if authentic!), but many other items also generate a flurry of activity. Peanuts comic books from the 1950s and early '60s have sold at online auctions for up to $1500+; Hallmark ornaments, like the 2011-12 five-piece Peanuts Wireless Band, fetch up to $300+; and Danbury porcelain pieces like their Peanuts Christmas Wreath (originally $120) now garners final bids of $800-plus.
This is an important year for Peanuts fans. Not only is 2015 the 65th anniversary of the strip, but it is also the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the animated special that first aired on December 9, 1965 on CBS.
Network executives were critical of the animation (too simple), soundtrack (too much jazz), and pace (too slow), but the program aired to rave reviews and a delighted audience and has since gone on to become a highly-awarded (an Emmy and a Peabody) annual Christmas staple.
To commemorate the anniversary, the first motion picture in 35 years - The Peanuts Movie - was released in November, and the US Postal Service issued Charlie Brown Christmas Forever stamps on October 1, 2015. The booklet of 20 stamps features 10 still frames from the television special (two of each design).
If you'd like to learn more about Peanuts collectibles, or just take a walk down memory lane with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the gang, check out the resources listed below and
The Art and Making of the Peanuts Movie, by Jerry Schmitz
Celebrating Peanuts: 65 Years, by Charles M. Schulz
More Snoopy Collectibles: An Unauthorized Guide with Values, by Jan Lindenberger
Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts, by Chip Kidd, Geoff Spear, Jeff Kinney, Jean Schultz
Peanuts: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition), by Charles M. Schulz
Peanuts Collectibles Identification and Values Guide, by Andrea Podley and Derrick Bang
Peanuts Guide to Life, by Charles M. Schulz and Andy Cohen
Peanuts: Home Collection - A Collector's Guide to Identification and Value, by Freddi Margolin
5 facts you may not know about Peanuts - Park West Gallery - Check out No. 2: the Peanuts gang in a commercial for the 1960 Ford Falcon and Ford Fairlane 500.
8 things to know about the "Peanuts," on 65th anniversary - NY Daily News - No. 8: Charlie Brown did kick a football! No. 1?
Charles M. Schulz Museum - Biography, timeline, FAQs, blog, exhibitions, store, more.
FiveCentsPlease.org - Great resource includes information on Peanuts in the media, obscure FAQs, a discussion of fakes and forgeries, character histories, links, more.
The Peanuts Collectors Club - Check here to become a member or for their link to their Facebook page.
The Peanuts Movie - First, watch the trailer, and then participate in "Peanutizing" characters, playing with the Wah-Wah Machine, and receiving psychiatric help from Dr. Lucy van Pelt.
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to EcommerceBytes.com and either link to the original article or to www.EcommerceBytes.com.
All other use is prohibited.