I have learned in the past few years how popular the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow is through the episode with Arnold Shapiro’s Peanuts collection appraisal. It has rerun many times since its original airdate in 2006, and each time I receive several emails telling me about this treasure trove of Peanuts art. Watch a clip of the episode
Mr. Shapiro, a former artist with Hallmark, and Sparky had a long relationship beginning when Mr. Shapiro reached out to Sparky to ask about designing a line of Hallmark cards.
In the 1970s, Sparky told me the story of how a true Peanuts fan contacted him and then designed prototype cards which were put into Hallmark’s test market stores. According to the story I heard, Mr. Shapiro bought all the cards himself, and—voilà—a Peanuts division was born.
The relationship with Hallmark has continued for over 50 years. It is a relationship that the Schulz family and the Peanuts family values highly. It has also been a very personal relationship, because Hallmark is still run by the family of Joyce C. Hall, who began his company with a horse and buggy (do look up the fascinating history).
Sparky said many times that the commercial aspect of Peanuts was based on friendships. This is one we are certainly grateful for.
I thank you, Mr. Shapiro, and legions of Peanuts fans do also.
Last year, Mr. Shapiro donated some of his Peanuts collection to the Museum. In addition to two Peanuts strips, the gift included two It’s Only a Game strips and three unpublished pages from Snoopy’s Daily Dozen: 12 Physical Fitness Exercises, an instruction booklet by Hallmark from the late 1960s.
These are important pieces in our collection. All of Sparky’s creations beyond the comic strip shows how fertile his mind was and that he was always striving to expand the scope of his work.
I’ll share more of Mr. Shapiro’s story in an upcoming post—so stay tuned!