Let’s begin with a short history of bobbleheads. 2015: A 1961-62 New York Yankees Oversized (14″) Promotional Nodder sold at auction by for $59,750. It was one of only two known in existence. According to John Brey of “The Nodder Exchange,” this was “the most desirable nodder in the hobby, bar none.” It’s a truth that endures regardless of your personal team affiliation, and it’s likely due to the fact that the Bronx Bombers claimed the World Championship during both potential years of production that the uniform was chosen. While five or fewer promotional nodders exist for each of the NFL teams of the era, only the Yankees model is believed to have been produced to represent our National Pastime. And today, just two of those are known to survive.
How are bobbleheads made? We begin with the head of the bobble head doll. The body is made of hollow plastic that is covered by felt cloth. On the head, a metal clasp is connected to the downward portion of the head to connect into the bobble head dog’s body. At the far end of the body is a bolt that acts as a weight for the head. When attached to the body, this allows for the bobble head to sway and bob around. Without the weighed bolt at the end, the bobble head would simply rise to the top of the body in a fixed position. Next up is the body of the bobble head doll. The body, which in this case is about 4″ (10.16cm) in length, is made of a hollow core like the head, but the mold is not enclosed in order to allow space for the head piece to attach to the body. To attach to the body, a small metal anchor is attached inside the upper portion of the body to allow the clasp from the head to rest in the center of the anchor. When the head is attached to the body, the bobble head bobs and glides with ease. The movement can be endless as long as the bobble head doll is in contact with motion to jostle the parts enough to cause movement.
In June 2012, the TBS talk show ‘Conan’ went to film in Chicago and produced one of the largest bobble head dolls ever documented. The Conan O’Brien Bobble Head stood at 16 feet tall! In 2016, there were many terrific MLB bobble head giveaways that focus on team mascots to legendary Dodgers broadcast Vin Scully. Both major league and minor league baseball heavily use bobble head doll promotions to drive attendance. For 2017, MLB teams plan no let down in the size and scope of bobble heads. Teams from the Mets with their Noah Syndergaard Thor themed bobble head to the Angels with three different Mike Trout bobble heads throughout the season aren’t letting up with promotions throughout the league each and every week.
The first known mentioning of the bobblehead doll is in Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 short story “The Overcoat” where one of the characters is said to looks like one. It is also believed that moder bobblehead dolls originate from 18th century Germany where they were made of ceramic. These dolls in turn originate from Ancient Japanese and Chinese string dolls. Modern bobblehead dolls were first made from paper-mache, ceramic and plastic. 20th century bobblehead dolls were first made in 1920s. New York Knicks basketball player bobblehead was produced trhen but interest in them waned by 1930s and didn’t renew until 1950s.
The easiest way to see what specific bobbleheads are going for is to look on eBay. In addition to viewing current listings, you can also see the completed listings and their final prices. While there will always be deviations from the norm, with the proper search string and timeframe, it can be very easy to see the expected price range for a specific bobblehead. Naturally, when something has value, people are curious which versions command the highest values. With bobbleheads, there are few categories which tend to draw the highest values.
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