Tips by Dr. Lori

Mr. Peanut Collectibles

by Dr. Lori Verderame
Mr. Peanut Collectibles

Mr. Peanut Building

In March 2005, the sale of the highly recognizable Planters’ Peanut building in Wilkes-Barre, PA sparked a new dialogue about America’s favorite and first advertising icon. At the time of the sale, the city landmark boasted a heroic size mural of the dapper advertising figure, Mr. Peanut. The new owners of the Main Street building, Cross Continental Realty, stated their interest in preserving the Mr. Peanut mural for history. Architecture aside, within the annals of American industrialist history, the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company is an American success story. The company built success on peanuts and also gave birth to a most popular American advertising image, Mr. Peanut. 

Mr. Peanut Logo

Mr. Peanut buildingMr. Peanut reigns supreme in the antiques community as the first advertising icon. Introduced in 1916, the debonair marketing image of Mr. Peanut derived from a crude drawing by a Virginia schoolboy. Prompted by a nationwide logo contest sponsored by the Planters Company, schoolboy Antonio Gentile won $5 for his design submission of Mr. Peanut. After reviewing the boy's submission, a professional illustrator working for the company enhanced the youngster’s drawing by adding the monocle and top hat to the artwork in order to create the company logo that advertises Planters peanuts as  "a class above the rest." 

Beginnings of Planters' Nuts

Today, Planters Nuts is a division of RJR Nabisco and boasts one of the most recognizable trademarks in the world. After Wilkes-Barre, PA, the town of Suffolk, VA became the second home of Planters founder, Italian immigrant Amedeo Obici. Born in 1876 near Venice, Italy, Obici came to America at age 11 and settled in Scranton, PA. Obici then moved to nearby Wilkes-Barre, PA where he operated a fruit and nut stand and established his niche as “The Peanut Specialist” in the early 1900s. Obici developed a new method of blanching whole roasted peanuts omitting the hulls and skins. From these northeastern Pennsylvania beginnings, the Planters peanut empire was founded. 

Obici realized that repeat business would be the key to his success and he wanted his brand name to be associated with quality. In 1908, Obici’s firm was incorporated as Planters Nut and Chocolate Company. In 1916, the Planters founder married peanut vendor, Louise Musante, who would later help her husband run the Planters factory in Suffolk, VA. In that same year, Planters introduced the world to Mr. Peanut. 

What to Look For

Mr. Peanut collectible jarCollectors agree that Mr. Peanut is a popular figure and known to many collectible objects ranging from mechanical banks to salt and pepper shakers. Mr. Peanut collectibles command high prices on the market. For instance, a Mr. Peanut collector in Massachusetts shelled out more than $20,000 to buy an authentic Mr. Peanut coin operated scale. Mr. Peanut collectibles don’t come cheap. A vintage Mr. Peanut store display jar with peanut finials and select Mr. Peanut toys sell for prices ranging from $200 to $2,000. Collectors are nuts about Mr. Peanut!

Request an online appraisal for your Mr. Peanut collectible from Dr. Lori.

Schedule a Dr. Lori Event

Dr. Lori events
Dr. Lori presents her popular Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show around the world at 150 shows a year entertaining audiences. Ask us how to book an event for you.

Dr. Lori's Blog

Dr. Lori reveals insider information and tips about the world of antiques. Subscribe here »
3 Ways to Find Valuable Antiques

3 Ways to Find Valuable Antiques

Want to know how to spot that valuable thrift store find? Don't know what to look for when cleaning out Grandma's attic or when you are downsizing? It's a common question and Dr. Lori provides secrets to spot those prints, posters, silver and ceramics that are valuable. Don't rely only on marks or signatures. They could fool you. You must read this article so you aren't throwing away a valuable or walking past it at a thrift store.

Read More »