Six facts about bobbleheads to nod along to
Image: Cottone Auctions
Bobbleheads have been a huge part of pop culture for decades. From the animal nodders on the dashboards of beatniks’ cars to the Major League Baseball-branded bobbleheads of the 1960s, these little knick-knacks haven’t wavered in popularity. Many people are surprised to hear that, although these tend to be synonymous with the midcentury, bobbleheads have actually existed since the seventeenth century! The first recorded bobbleheads were modeled after Buddha and other religious figures, and were referred to as “temple nodders.”
Since January 7 is National Bobblehead Day, what better time to delve into the history — and little-known facts — about these favorite collector’s items?
A pair sold for $36,000
For the price of a directional state school college education, you could have a pair of some of the oldest remaining bobbleheads. Created in China in the early 1800s, a pair of bobbleheads resembling a husband and wife sold at an auction in 2010 for $35,925, according to the Bobblehead Hall of Fame.
Image: Bobblehead Hall of Fame
Sports bobbleheads date back to the 1920s
If you’ve been early to a baseball game, you’ve probably received a bobblehead modeled after one of the players. While bobblehead athletes are most popular in Major League Baseball, the first sports bobblehead was created featuring a generic basketball player. While some collectors claim it was for the New York Knicks, others are doubtful because the team wasn’t officially established until 1946.
Image: New York Knicks
The Beatles pioneered the full-on pop culture bobblehead in the US
Yep, another thing the Beatles pioneered. While replicas have been made, the original 1964 set of Beatles bobbleheads are selling for up to $800 on the internet. This was one of the first sets of bobbleheads modeled after humans that weren’t athletes, and the fact that Beatlemaniacs would purchase anything related to their four favorite guys made them an instant hit.
The Giants have done the most bobblehead-related promotions
There have been over 300 bobblehead promotions nationwide, but almost a third of them have been done by the San Francisco Giants. They’ve done more than 75. In fact, it’s believed that the team’s 1999 giveaway of Willie Mays bobbleheads contributed to their resurgence.
Image: Sons of Johnnie LeMaster
The biggest bobblehead is over 15 feet tall
In April 2016, insurance company Applied Underwriters, decided to hire a prop shop to make a bobblehead based on their mascot, a Saint Bernard. The giant dog had a leash attached to his neck so the head nods when you pull on it. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records now! Before that, the biggest bobblehead was 11 feet tall, in the likeness of game show host Chuck Woolery.
Image: Guinness World Records
They’ve been used in romantic(?) gestures
In 2012, Bachelorette contestant Chris Bukowski gifted Emily Maynard two bobbleheads that looked like the two of them … in the first episode! Unfortunately, he didn’t win. But Maynard didn’t end up marrying the winner anyway.