Collecting Charles Schulz Autographs and Peanuts Cartoon Art
Collecting Charles Schulz and Peanuts Memorabilia
Charles Schulz is America's most beloved cartoonist, and his popular cartoon "Peanuts" has entertained generations of fans. You might count yourself as one of them and may have considered starting a collection of Peanuts memorabilia, or autographs. Whether you are looking for original cartoon strip art, autographs or prints, there is a wealth of items available at a wide array of price points for the beginning or advanced collector. I'll give you a few tips on where to find Charles Schulz autographed items you are interested in, what kind of items are available, and how to verify their authenticity.
All photos by Diane Cass
Autobiography by Charles Schulz
How to Collect a Charles Schulz Autograph
Autographs are signatures. They can be found on many things, but are primarily found on paper, such as correspondence, first edition books, documents and in the case of Charles Schulz...art work. The value of an autograph of a famous person is determined by a number of factors.
Age: Signatures from important periods of the person's life will be worth more. A signature of Charles Schulz on his first edition of his first "Peanuts book" would be more valuable than on a later book.
Condition: The autograph should be clear and correct. The item the signature is on should be in good condition as well. A Charles Schulz autograph on a book that is falling apart, will not be worth very much, compared to a book in pristine condition with his signature.
Characters: Any signature that is accompanied by a sketch can significantly ramp up the value. Important characters, such as Snoopy, or Linus holding his blanket, or Schroeder at the piano command top dollar..
Correspondence in a Historical Context: A letter with Schultz discussing his characters, or milestones in his career will be worth more than a letter to a friend having nothing to do with his art.
Attributions: Signed itmes in which Charles Schulz has written a personal message, i.e. "To Cynthia, I hope you enjoy my book. Charles Schulz", is worth less than just his signature by itself. Schulz was a prolific autographer, but he usually put a personal message along with his signature. It is rare to find it alone.
REAL OR FAKE?
For any autograph collector the most important thing you can do to avoid buying a fake is to study the signatures of the people you collect. Become very familiar with the way they cross their "t's" and dot their "i's"...literally. Charles Schulz has a very distinctive signature. The capital "C" has a curl at the top and his "z" looks more like a "y", as in the picture above. This is his full signature in script. His block print signature is more common, and is usually just his last name, "SHULZ", as is usually seen on his comic strips. His last name has no "T". It is "Schulz", not "Schultz".
Collecting Peanuts Art by Charles Schulz
Most people prefer to collect the art of Charles Schulz. His "Peanuts" characters are beloved, and artwork can be displayed to greater effect than a signature on a document. Art work by Schulz can take many forms, ranging from the very affordable, to outlandishly expensive. Start with the best piece of art you can afford, and work up from there. Original art, no matter how small is always better than a print, even if it is a signed print.
Comic Strips: An original hand-drawn comic strip from a published newspaper.
Original Sketches, Drawings or Paintings: Snoopy drawn on a napkin for an adoring fan, drawings for the strips or books, or paintings.
Animation Cell Art: Original paintings for any of the original "Peanuts" movies or cartoons made for TV. Value is determined by condition, which animated feature it came from, which characters are in it, and the subject matter. All the children singing around the sorry little Christmas tree in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" will be worth more than Peppermint Pattie standing alone in a football helmet.
Limited Edition Prints: These are worth more than mass produced prints of "Peanuts" art. They are usually signed and numbered.
Where to Find Charles Shulz Autographs and Peanuts Art
There are many place you can find original art by Charles Schulz, autographs or Peanuts art. Start with your local art galleries, antiques stores, auction houses and estate sales. If you get to know the dealers and people who run the auction houses and estate sales, they may give you advance notice when a piece you might be interested in is going up for sale. Other than that, the internet is a rich source of memorabilia available for sale.
Places to Look
Online Auctions, like eBay, or Bonanza or AuctionZip
Websites devoted to art or Peanuts memorabilia.
Charles Schulz Drawing Charley Brown
What are the Real Names of these Favorite Peanuts Characters?
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How to Avoid Buying Fake Peanuts Art or Forged Charles Shulz Autographs
Nothing feels worse than the feeling that comes over you when you know you've "been had". Avoid this by doing your homework BEFORE you buy. Here are some tips for avoiding mistakes that could cost you money.
1 - Look at signatures and art under magnification. If it was faked with a printer, the piece will be made of tiny dots, evenly spaced. This can really only be seen under magnification, so examine items carefully with a loupe or magnifying glass. If you are buying an item that is online, demand a close-up macro image from the seller...if one isn't already available.
2 - Ask questions BEFORE you buy. Tell the seller your concerns and make them provide proof of authenticity. Remember, certificates of authenticity can be faked too, so examine them as well.
3 - Compare autographs to known signatures by Charles Schulz. Again, check for signs that it was printed, instead of written by hand. A real signature will have variations in the pressure exerted on the writing instrument. This will result in some dark and light shades, thin and thick lines in the signature. Check for signs of dots, as in tip #1.
4 - Consider provenance. Provenance is the trail of ownership of an item. An original painting of Snoopy being sold by a blood relative of Charles Schulz is the best provenance. Something owned by a friend or someone who worked with him is the next best level. From there, ownership gets farther away from Schulz himself...i.e., it was bought at a gallery, Aunt Rosie said it came from Grandma Unis who used to live in the same state as Schulz when he was a boy. You get the idea. Closer, and verifiable is better. Proofs of provenance could be documents, pictures, newspaper clippings...anything that can prove how the item got from Schultz to the seller...
5 - Charles Schulz has no "T" in his name. If the item is signed "Schultz", it is a forgery.
Who is Your Favorite Peanuts Character?
Which Peanuts Character is Your Favorite
I've been a fan of Peanuts all of my life. I identified with Charlie Brown as a kid, because I never got Valentines on Valentine's Day either. I think it is easy to identify with the characters, as they mimic the real experiences that many people have. Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite character?