Charles Schulz and the Peanuts legacy
On October 2nd, 1950, the Peanuts gang were introduced to the world in the first Peanuts comic strip of Charles Schulz, printed in nine American newspapers.
The strips, each featuring various groupings of a charismatic gang of characters, ran until February 2000. Totalling 17,897 strips, it is considered ‘the longest story ever told’ according to media scholar Robert Thompson.
Peanuts is regarded as one of the most influential comic strips to have been created. The heroes of the story became world-wide mascots. Their creator Charles Schulz shot to fame, and his autographs and original Peanuts sketches are extremely sought-after by collectors.
Charles Monroe Schulz (1922-2000) was an American cartoonist. He grew up loving to draw, often with his family dog as a subject.
His first regular cartoon slot was called Li’l Folks, published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press between 1947 and 1950. He approached the United Feature Syndicate with his best Li’l Folks sketches, and in 1950, Peanuts made its first appearance.
From then on, Peanuts was produced weekly for nearly 50 years with almost no interruption. Schulz took only one holiday from writing the strip during this time, a five-week break to celebrate his birthday in 1997.
The Peanuts cartoons became one of the most popular and well-regarded comic strips of all time, and their author received numerous awards. Re-runs are still widely printed on a daily basis throughout the world.
Charlie Brown’s beagle Snoopy became perhaps the most dynamic character of all. He remained silent for the first two years of the strip, but began vocalising to readers in 1952 through thought balloons. He gradually developed into an eccentric anthropomorphic character with a fantasy life, who adopts different personas at will.
Collecting Charles Schultz & Peanuts memorabilia
Top end collectors of Charles Schultz tend to focus on his autograph, signed original sketches, signed strips, and signed animation stills.
The most valuable of these are the ones depicting iconic and favourite moments in the history of the strip – Charlie Brown’s first attempt to fly a kite, Snoopy’s great dream air battle with the Red Baron, the famous annual failed football kick.
Original signed art for the strips fetches tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands at auction. Schulz is firmly in the realm of investment grade collectibles, ranked the highest-earning deceased celebrity in 2006, and as such, these high end items can be expensive to procure.
But collecting Charles Schulz has ever been about more than monetary value and investment. His comic strips have influenced, inspired, and been adored by generations, and not just one but several have grown up reading them avidly. Collectors of Charles Schulz are therefore also nostalgic, his comics reminding them of their youth, and the old friends the Peanuts gang became.
Those on a budget may collect first edition Peanuts books. These are collections of the original strips, either chronologically organised, such as the Complete Peanuts, or organised by theme, such as Snoopy’s Tennis Book.
Collectors may also choose to collect any other of the numerous vintage items of Peanuts merchandise, such as figurines, lunchboxes, stuffed toys, puppets, pencil cases, alarm clocks, plates, money boxes, music boxes, snow globes, encyclopaedia sets, mugs, craft kits, radios, nightlights, match books, watches and more.
The Peanuts gang were also appropriated by many companies for use in advertising due to their enduring and widespread popularity. Companies including Ford cars, Pepsi, McDonald’s, Cheerios, Hallmark, Bounty, Hardees, MetLife etc, produced promotional materials and giveaways using Snoopy, Charlie Brown and their friends. These advertising collectibles are also popular among collectors.
1953 Original Peanuts strip featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy playing fetch, sold for $60,000 at Philip Weiss Auctions in September 2008
1968 Original Peanuts strip featuring Charlie Brown’s annual attempted football kick, sold for $80,662.50 at Heritage Auctions in November 2008
1966 Original Peanuts strip featuring Snoopy vs. the Red Baron sold for $101,575 at Heritage Auctions in February 2010