Ask About Antiques: Howdy Doody's Time Has Come. Do You Really Know What Time It Is?

Ask About Antiques
Howdy Doody's Time Has Come. Do You Really Know What Time It Is?
by Budd A. Moore, Ed.D.

In case you are like me, Howdy Doody was one of the childhood icons that you don't think about too much today. However, the memory of this wooden animated marionette remains a part of our growing up. Howdy entertained children of my generation from 1947 until about 1960. Only two years after the show started, sales of Howdy Doody items were placed on kids' "must have" lists to the tune of $11 million. By 1950 it had risen to $15 million. During his brief lifespan, Howdy pitched over 600 different sponsors most of whom displayed his image in one way or another. Howdy and all his friends [Clarabell The Clown, Buffalo Bob, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Flub-A-Dub, Dilly Dally, and Mister Bluster] were very popular in many households with young people who lived there.
Today, collectors are seeking to find not only the toys and memorabilia of this interesting and likeable character and his friends, but also the advertising and throw-away items that displayed his likeness. I guess only a baby-boomer can appreciate the importance of a thing like this. Tracking down the advertising side of the ledger in the area of Doodyville's chief resident is a never-ending quest.
Some of the major items that are sought are the Howdy flicker rings that show an animated Howdy Doody or one of his sidekicks on the front as you change the ring's position. I still have mine. I have no idea how I got it. I can remember lots of food containers that showed Howdy to adoring fans, everything from peanut butter containers, jelly glasses to paper ice cream Dixie cups and bread end labels since Howdy was the chief spokespuppet for Wonder Bread. I also have the Welch's Grape Jelly glass that I saved as a kid with Howdy on the surface. As I am not an avid collector of things Doody, there were many missed opportunities for me to get a Howdy Doody lunch box [I preferred Roy Rogers and Hoppy in that respect.], and a complete Howdy outfit including the boots, and blue kerchief of the TV icon. It was not until I began searching for things collectable that I discovered on one yard sale table one day three Howdy items that I quickly purchased. They were a Howdy Doody ceramic bank for $3, a set of Clarabell playing cards for $.50, and a Howdy Doody pencil for $.50. It was as if I had found the Hope Diamond in a bag of walnuts.
Howdy has long since left the TV scene as well as the loveable Clarabell, who was almost as popular as Howdy himself. All of these characters are gone from the airways but not from our hearts. They still surprise us with occasional appearances at flea markets, yard sales, auctions, and antique shows, but at much higher prices than in former years. If you liked Howdy as much as I did as a kid, you should watch out to find any trace of this character left in your neighborhood. Remembering all the years gone by since Howdy jumped around on our small Philco or DuMont TV screens helps to place our time in perspective when escape to Doodyville was only a flick of the channel knob away. I hope you truly know what time it is.

Budd A. Moore, Ed.D., is a specialist in the valuation of antique and collectable objects of the last 150 years as a collector of antique American Art Pottery and a dealer for over 20 years. If you have a question about antiques, e-mail him at buddm4cnsl@comcast.net