Spring is just around the corner, and flea markets, yard sales, and swap meets will be popping up all around. So, we thought we’d take a look at one category you might want to keep a lookout for, Mr. Peanut collectibles.
As you must be aware by now, the Planters company killed off its 104-year-old mascot, Mr. Peanut, earlier this year. In a commercial that aired in January, Mr. Peanut selflessly gave his life to save his friends, actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh, when the NUTmobile in which they were riding plunged over a cliff.
The public mourning period did not last long. During the Super Bowl just a short time later, Planters aired Tribute, in which Mr. Peanut’s funeral resulted in his return as Baby Nut.
Planters claimed the ad campaign evolved from prior public responses to the deaths of fictional characters, such as Iron Man, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the company sees this as an opportunity to modernize their icon. After all, Mr. Peanut’s accoutrements – spats, top hat, monocle – were the products of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At the very least, think of all the new Baby Nut merchandising opportunities!
Whatever the motivation behind Planters’ recent ad campaign, it’s worthwhile to remember that Mr. Peanut has long been popular among collectors, and after over a century of production, there are a large number of items from which to choose. Most are worth no more than a dollar or two, but condition and rarity can catapult an item into the hundreds, and even higher.
Recent examples from a survey of online auction prices have revealed that a small, worn 1920s lithographed tin scoop sold for $207.50 after 18 bids; a lot of four 1984 Mr. Peanut wind-up toys by Talbot Toys, still in their not-mint blister packs, fetched $280.55 (after 22 bids); and a plastic, lime-green Mr. Peanut figural savings bank from the 1960s garnered $332.98 (13 bids).
Oddities can have their own appeal as evinced by a somewhat unattractive, green-pants-wearing, Made-in-Japan ceramic pin tray that someone loved enough to pay $255 for, and the power of condition was revealed when identical 1930s Planters Peanuts lithographed tin counter displays were auctioned off. The one with average wear sold for $289.99 while the one that had retained almost all its paint fetched $1675!
Would you like to discover more about this fun collectible? Check out the resources listed below, and
Planters Peanuts, Advertising and Collectibles, by Richard D. Reddock (Link)
Planters Peanut Collectibles, 1906-1961, by Jan Lindenberger (Link)
Planters Peanut Collectibles, Since 1961, by Jan Lindenberger and Joyce Spontak (Link)
The History of Mr. Peanut (Smithsonian Magazine) – The focus in on the genesis of the character.
Peanut Pals (Mr. Peanut Collectors Club) – Check out the “Have you seen… Did you know” page (bottom) for a Mr. Peanut gallery through the years.
Planters Mr. Peanut Collectibles and Values (LiveAbout.com) – Updated February 2019, the list includes tins, jars, bobbleheads, ashtrays, dolls, and plastic banks.