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The Origins of Bobbleheads
Bobbleheads are is thought to date back as far as 150 years ago, with the earliest known bobble head toys dating back to the 1842's in a short story, The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogal, which had a character who he wrote, was "like the neck of plaster cats which wag their heads".
From there the next known figure was made in Germany. They were created about 6-8 inches tall, the dolls heads were connected with springs and so were termed "nodder" or "bobbers" based on the way their heads would move in a motion that made them appear to be bobbing up and down.
In the early 1920s, a bobblehead type doll was fashioned after a New York Knicks basketball player, thus bringing the bobblehead doll into the arena of collectible sports but by the 1930's the bobblehead doll had lost its mystic in the sports collectible world and were not mass-produced again, nor really desirable until the 1960s.
In 1960, Major League Baseball released a whole line of papier-m?ch? dolls for each of the players on the team. During the 1960 World Series, they were massed produced for the big players like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Roberto Clemente. Although each doll had on a different uniform, they all had the same face and were mass-produced. Several of these dolls were purchased and were in high demand, but because of the construction of them, mainly that they were made from papier-m?ch?, not many of them have survived to this date.
Learning from the past mistakes in construction and the improvements in materials that could be massed produced. Bobbleheads continued to be produced in the 1970s, however, unlike the predecessors, they were actually fashioned after the players. That is to say that the individual bobblehead dolls had not only the uniform of the player they represented, but so to likeness of his face.
Seeing that the profitability and high collectibility of these Bobbleheads were being driven by the collectors other industries soon saw the market niche and began their own line of bobblehead dolls.
Produced from a better construction of ceramic, they were longer lasting and more durable and soon dolls were being made not only of favorite sports stars, but so too of rock stars, politicians and any icon that captivated the publics attention.
It became a past time for some to collect all their favorite Bobbleheads and although generally they were mass-produced, the industry soon saw an advantage to releasing only limited numbers of bobblehead characters and special editions, which were in high demand and seized up quickly.
In the 1990s, new processes were developed to make bobblehead dolls out of plastic, making the production of Bobbleheads dolls much less expensive and easier to make. As a result the market soon became flooded with more bobblehead dolls than there was the demand and, as with any industry, when the bobblehead dolls became readily available and over produced, their expense and collectibility suffered.
Part of the attraction behind bobblehead dolls was the availability factor. When first created, they were not all that accessible, nor did they last, driving the market. The more fragile, rare or hard to find something is, the more expensive the item becomes. Therefore, it would make sense that when better manufacturing materials with the combination of high output, the collectibility of the bobblehead doll would decline.
Bobblehead dolls are still highly collectible, but mostly just the ones that were lucky enough to make it through the ages, not the ones that fly off the shelf or the ones that were given away at a ball game to 35,000 fans. Bobblehead dolls are still a symbol of iconic preservation throughout the ages, but if you are collecting, collect because you love them, not for their perceived resale value.
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