Dating an Item – Collecting 101

The most misunderstood marking on a Peanuts item is the copyright date/year. Before 1994, most Peanuts items had a copyright date on it. In general, copyright dates for Peanuts items refer to the first time the character has been used in publication. A copyright helps protect the intellectual property of the copyright owner. Let’s start off with an example to illustrate.

Charlie Brown is an easy starting point. Naturally, Charlie Brown being the first character introduced in 1950, his copyright date is 1950. Items featuring Charlie Brown before 1994 have the copyright date of 1950. Whether the item was released in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, etc., the item will have the 1950 copyright date. This can be confusing to anyone who doesn’t know about Peanuts copyright dates. They may assume the item was released in 1950.

After 1994, the copyright date was no longer required. This is a good indicator of newer items.

From left to right:
©1950 – Charlie Brown Push Puppet, 1976, Ideal Toy Company
©1950, 1966 – Charlie Brown PVC, Early 1990’s, Applause
No date – Charlie Brown Beanie Doll, Late 1990’s, Applause

Exceptions

Not every item’s copyright date refers to the characters. The trick is to know when! While looking through my collectibles, I found some figural pieces from the 1970’s using the year of release, rather than the character copyright. Foreign-released (outside the U.S.) pieces sometimes have the year of release also.

From left to right:
No Date, Pre-1994 – Charlie Brown Cookie Cutter, 1971, Hallmark
Date of Release, Pre-1994 – Charlie Brown Figurescene, 1972, Determined Productions
Date of Release, Post-1994 – Charlie Brown PVC, 2003, Maia & Borges (Portugal)

Solving the Mystery

How do you know the date of an item? Some items already have the date on the product. Annual collectibles, such as plates, ornaments or bells, may have the date on the item or box. Another clue is Peanuts Anniversary items which list the anniversary year.

If the date isn’t obvious, consider these other features: materials, subject matter, manufacturer, logo style and poses. With time or a price guide, you’ll be able to learn the tell-tale signs of a collectible’s date. For instance, Snoopy’s nose is a good indicator. As Snoopy “ages”, his nose shape moves from a thin, curvy nose to a more rounded, plump nose. You may not be able to pin-point exactly what year a piece was made, but you can get a good idea of the general time period.

If the item still has its original packaging, check for a barcode. Barcodes were first introduced in 1974.

Original copyrights listed the United Feature Syndicate or UFS with the copyright info. The rights to Peanuts were sold by United Feature Syndicate in 2010. The copyright changed to “© PEANUTS Worldwide LLC” or “© PNTS”.

When all else fails, consult a Collector’s Guide. Sure, you could have done that first, but this way you’ll hone your Snoopy Snoopin’ skills.

Buying a Mis-labeled Item

At some point you will come across one of these mis-labeled items. Whether you’re trying to get the price adjusted for a more reasonable age, or just trying to help someone out, the seller may or may not welcome the new information.

Dealers – If you’re talking to a dealer of collectibles at an antique store or flea market, the dealer should welcome the information. It’s hard to know everything about every type of collectible. You may be able to get a better price on an item if the real age is known. A collector guide can be handy to back up your claim. If a dealer doesn’t appreciate your knowledge, you may want to reconsider buying from them.

The Amateur Seller – If you’re on eBay, Craigslist or a rummage sale, the amateur seller may have a different perspective when it comes to their item. The seller may have an inflated sense of what the item is worth given the “age”. If the price is right, don’t bother to correct. If you’re trying to negotiate, a little information may help, but always anticipate that it might upset the seller to find out the truth. Teach the copyright lesson first and connect with the seller. Once the seller understands, you may be able to negotiate a lower price.

Character Dates

Some of the more popular characters and the dates associated with them

Charlie Brown – 1950
Schroeder – 1951
Lucy – 1952
Linus – 1952
Pig-Pen – 1954
Snoopy – 1958, 1965
Sally – 1959
The Flying Ace – 1966
Woodstock – 1970
Peppermint Patty – 1966
Franklin – 1968
Joe Cool – 1970
Marcie – 1971
Rerun – 1973
Beaglescout – 1974
Spike – 1975
Belle – 1976
Marbles – 1982
Olaf – 1989
Andy – 1994

Helpful Links

Peanuts Collector Guides
Meet the Peanuts Gang
Many Lives of Snoopy

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2 Responses to “Dating an Item – Collecting 101”

  1. wendy |

    You have listed Snoopy as appearing in 1958. I believe he was there from the first as a non speaking puppy.

  2. Caren |

    You are right, Wendy. The 1958 date is the copyright associated is in reference to the first time Snoopy stood up. Also, beyond books, there were not any collectibles before 1958 to have an earlier Snoopy date.

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