As the AAUGH Blogger, I get reached out to by people who want to authenticate items, or just want to figure out what to do with a Peanuts item. I try to tread carefully; I am not an art authenticator. And I try to steer well clear of offering “collectible values”, as I know all too well that the book that may be for sale for $1000 in an antiquarian bookstore is the same one I picked up for $30 on eBay a couple years back.
But when Matthew sent me the below photo, I was intrigued enough that when he generously offered to send me the item itself, I said yes.
A drawing of Snoopy that had been trimmed, stuck to some construction paper, and framed. Matthew told me that it had been found in Northern California… might it be a Schulz drawing? I’ve heard from people who have found verifiable Schulz sketches at flea markets and the like, so that possibility was there.
My first step in investigating was to think about the image — this (Snoopy holding the flag of the Netherlands with the words “America you’re beautiful” on it) didn’t seem like something one might sketch for no reason. I little bit of Google work showed me I was right — there was an older Hallmark item that I found being sold places like here and here.
Clearly not something merely coincidentally similar, the drawing we have is either made from this item… or it is made for making this item, either a drawing by a Hallmark artist (which would be rather cool), or by Schulz himself (very cool).
Now, many tracings you can rule out instantly because they look like blatant tracings. Many will have stiff, short lines as someone tries to copy a smooth line that didn’t come from their hand. This doesn’t have that sense. While there are lines that have been gone over multiple times for thickness, the lines all seem confident. I mean, look at those eyebrows:
Those are nice, smooth, variable-width arcs each drawn by a single stroke. The person who did this knew how to wield a marker.
But if you look at things carefully, you can tell that the Hallmark item was not reproduced from this image. The biggest giveaways are in the text, particularly the first line.
Not only is the word AMERICA not matching the Schulz style shown in the product (so that even if this were a design sketch, it wouldn’t have been by Schulz), it’s missing the quotation mark and comma! Now, if it were someone besides Schulz doing design work, this might have been just example text to be replaced by some form of mechanically-reproduced type later in the process.
But, the exact shape of the nose, the thickness of lines such as at the back of the neck, the precise whitespace in the ears… it’s close, but it’s not the same as the item. So in my best, not-a-professional-art-guy judgment: this is a generally well-done tracing from the Hallmark item, something some Snoopy fan made back in the day. And yes, back in the day; it wasn’t something that was very recently pasted up, because the construction paper is much richer red on the parts that are covered by the pasted-on item, showing how light has washed out the color on the areas that are not covered.
But hey, that just means that this is probably something created by some Snoopy fan, creating their own framed print of something that meant something to them. And that’s cool in itself. Even as a book collector, while I like finding the occasionally mint-condition old book, I really enjoyed finding one with personal dedications, coloring pages, doodles in the margin, and so forth. These are items that have had a life!