First with a small history of bobbleheads. 1966: Gold base baseball bobbleheads were issued. These were of inferior quality and would suffer from chips, cracks, and paint flaking. One specific player was made – Willie Mays. 1970: There was a lull in bobblehead collecting as collectors shifted to lunchboxes, action figures and video games. 1990: New manufacturing processes allowed bobbleheads to be made from plastic instead of ceramic, dramatically reducing the expense and difficulty of creating quality bobbleheads.
How are bobbleheads made? We begin with the head of the bobble head doll. The body is made of hollow plastic that is covered by felt cloth. On the head, a metal clasp is connected to the downward portion of the head to connect into the bobble head dog’s body. At the far end of the body is a bolt that acts as a weight for the head. When attached to the body, this allows for the bobble head to sway and bob around. Without the weighed bolt at the end, the bobble head would simply rise to the top of the body in a fixed position. Next up is the body of the bobble head doll. The body, which in this case is about 4″ (10.16cm) in length, is made of a hollow core like the head, but the mold is not enclosed in order to allow space for the head piece to attach to the body. To attach to the body, a small metal anchor is attached inside the upper portion of the body to allow the clasp from the head to rest in the center of the anchor. When the head is attached to the body, the bobble head bobs and glides with ease. The movement can be endless as long as the bobble head doll is in contact with motion to jostle the parts enough to cause movement.
Bobble head dolls were first believed to be referenced in 1842 in the short story “The Overcoat” by writer Nikolai Gogol. The story is also known as “The Cloak” and has been adapted to film and stage. Present day bobble heads originate in Germany. Ancient Japan and China had string dolls, which were the precursor to the German style of bobble head that is prevalent today. The German bobble head dolls were made of ceramic and began production in the late 1700’s, early 1800’s. The term nodder originates with these early German dolls. In the 20th century, commercialized bobble head dolls were made of paper mache and then switched to the more durable ceramic. In the United Kingdom, it’s very common for bobble head dolls do be referred to as nodding dolls.
The first known mentioning of the bobblehead doll is in Nikolai Gogol’s 1842 short story “The Overcoat” where one of the characters is said to looks like one. It is also believed that moder bobblehead dolls originate from 18th century Germany where they were made of ceramic. These dolls in turn originate from Ancient Japanese and Chinese string dolls. Modern bobblehead dolls were first made from paper-mache, ceramic and plastic. 20th century bobblehead dolls were first made in 1920s. New York Knicks basketball player bobblehead was produced trhen but interest in them waned by 1930s and didn’t renew until 1950s.
When it comes to collecting bobbleheads, there are few terms that are important to know when shopping or researching online: Retail – This means that the bobblehead can be purchased in a traditional brick-and-mortar store or at established online sites. These are mainly distinguished by the brand and theme of the set. This usually makes them the easiest to find, but limited edition versions go quickly.
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