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The History of Baseball Bobble Head Collectibles

by Eric Brantner (07/03/08).
Antique Baseball Bobble Heads

In a recent blog, I discussed some of the most valuable baseball bobble head dolls of all time (click here to read my post about baseball bobble heads). There were some amazing figures on the list worth thousands of dollars. If you are like me, reading about those bobble heads completely changed my perception of the oversize head toys. After writing that post, I thought it would be a good idea to follow it up with a post detailing the history of baseball bobble dolls.

The 1960s were the era when bobble heads became popular with the public. Back then, these dolls were made with papier-mâché. Therefore, it’s rare to see any antique bobble heads that don’t have cracks or severe chipping. However, even with the chipping these antique sports dolls still fetch a high price at auctions.

One thing that may surprise today’s collector is the first bobble heads weren’t of specific players. Instead, each bobble head had the exact same face, but wore a different team jersey. These generic bobbing head dolls were sent from Japan, and they typically sold for a few dollars.

The bobble head obsession died out at the end of the 1960’s, and they became a scarce item for almost 30 years. It wasn’t until 1999, when the San Francisco Giants gave away Willie Mays plastic bobble heads that the nationwide obsession began again.

Since this promotional event in 1999, there has been resurgence in the baseball bobble head collectibles industry. Now, bobble heads of specific players are made, and they are given away during special nights throughout the year at baseball parks across the country. The current plastic models are much easier to maintain than their predecessor. Additionally, the player specific collectibles are not as generic as they once were. These models bear a striking resemblance to the player, and they often contain specific attributes such as tattoos, facial hair, and other characteristics.

The 1999 Willie Mays bobble head also paved the way for these toys to permeate other facets of popular culture. Today, bobble heads of politicians, musicians, movie stars, athletes, and other public figures fill the display cases of collectors worldwide.

What bobble heads do you collect? Do you have a favorite? Tell me about them in the replies.

One Response to “The History of Baseball Bobble Head Collectibles”

  1. Charles Kaplan says:

    I have a group of 60′s paper mache bobble heads. My favorite is a little, bashful looking NYY, purchased at Yankee Stadium on the day that Roger Maris hit his 61st home run. I may be interested in selling the entire group. Thanks, Charles

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