Some bobbleheads depict former U.S. presidents, while others are favorite of sports fans, who collect them during team giveaways at sports venues.
Photo: Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group
Photo: Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group

Nod of approval: It’s National Bobblehead Day

Bobblehead doll collectors are nodding with approval Sunday, as National Bobblehead Day is celebrated on Jan. 7. 

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Jan. 7, 2015, was the first time National Bobblehead Day was celebrated, according to the Registrar of the National Day.

Fittingly, the day is sponsored by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Bobbleheads have a long history. The first reference to a similar toy came from 1842’s “The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol, according to Bobbleheads.com. In that short story, a character was described as having a “neck (like that) of plaster cats which wag their heads.”

Years later, ceramic figures of animals with spring-connected heads were produced in Germany and were called “nodders.” In the 1960s, Major League Baseball produced a series of papier-mache bobbleheads for each team. All of them had the same cherubic face, Bobbleheads.com said on its website.

Player-specific dolls of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays were produced and sold during the 1960 World Series.

By the 1970s, bobbleheads were made out of ceramic materials.

In 1999, the San Francisco Giants handed out 35,000 Mays bobbleheads as a game promotion, and the small statues quickly became favorites among sports fans and collectors.

Unlike the original versions, current bobbleheads are more lifelike, with hairstyles, scars, headbands and other markings that match their subjects.

It's a collectible that covers all subjects, ranging from sports heroes to political figures. Some figures depict historical figures like Lizzie Borden, or more recent pop culture figures like Abby Lee Miller of “Dance Moms.”

The America! store at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, for example, sells figures of U.S. presidents, including Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. The Washington Nationals baseball team a few years ago had a Mount Rushmore-type bobblehead giveaway, with dolls of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt given away.

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