Monday, May 1, 2000  

Wearing a top hat, a monocle, white gloves and his signature cane, Mr. Peanut has charmed us into eating salty snacks one nut at a time. Because he happens to be one of the more sophisticated advertising mascots, collectors are drawn to just about anything and everything that prominently displays the classy legume.

Do a simple search on Mr. Peanut at any online auction site and you're bound to find plenty of merchandise to choose from. There are tennis balls, cast iron banks, glass jars, plush dolls, belt buckles, umbrellas, salt and pepper shakers, towels, peanut butter makers and floaty pens.

With the vast variety of items to collect, it's easy to see why people can't seem to get enough of Mr. Peanut. Just ask Mike Lockhart, a logistics management specialist from Virginia, who has 400 items in his Mr. Peanut collection, which includes an old book of matches with each match resembling Mr. Peanut.

"I like the items that have some historical significance such as the booklet Planters put out during WWII titled Our Fighting Forces," Lockhart says. "The booklet has pictures of American military forces and has charts that depict the uniform insignia of the Americans, the Germans and the Japanese. Planters also put out Victory pins and several items associated with the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair."

Roger Johnson and his wife Ginnie, from Michigan, collect old Planters store display jars. So far they have 30, and continue to search for the ultimate Mr. Peanut finds, which they like to display on their Web site.

"We collect for the fun of the hunt," Johnson confesses. "Our goal is to get as many of the old Planters jars, in as good shape as possible, to make our collection complete. The collection does have value and it is appreciating as the years go on, so it is an investment also."

"Our kids think we are nuts!" Johnson jokes. "We think that's a pun."

If you're just starting to collect Mr. Peanut merchandise, you might want join the Peanut Pals club, which boasts over 900 members. Peanut Pals hosts regional meetings and conventions to display merchandise and discuss history and value of Mr. Peanut items. They also publish a bimonthly newsletter.

"The Peanut Pals club was the best thing that we could have joined," Johnson says. "Where else could we find the knowledge of Planters Peanut items? When we have club meetings, there is a room full of Planters items for sale or auction. It's like walking into a little bit of heaven to see all that stuff in one place."

Whether you collect for fun or the thrill of the hunt, it's a good idea for all beginning collectors to do research on Mr. Peanut collectibles. With many items selling, sometimes for thousands of dollars, you don't want to pay a lot for what you think is an original only to end up with a reproduction or a fake. The more you know about Mr. Peanut's long, nutty history, the better prepared you are for finding a quality collectible.

more >>