A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting PEZ
The clever candy dispenser, PEZ, is a quintessential childhood knickknack. They come in all shapes and sizes, and we often see these at estate sales in Tacoma, Olympia, or Gig Harbor. Let’s learn a little more about collecting PEZ.
A Brief History
PEZ got its start in Austria in the early 1920s and was invented as an alternative to smoking. Created by Eduard Haas III, the original dispensers mimic an old fashion cigarette lighter, and the original candy wasn’t candy at all, but rather a peppermint breath mint.
As PEZ gained popularity in Austria, Haas worked to bring PEZ to America. It wasn’t an easy transition, but by 1955, the original design was altered to feature the now-icon character heads, and the mints were replaced with candy counterparts.
Pez became wildly popular in the US in 1973 when a new manufacturing warehouse opened in Orange, Connecticut.
Vintage vs. Modern Dispensers
When it comes to collecting PEZ, you will want to know the difference between vintage and modern dispensers.
A vintage dispenser was produced before 1980 and is easily identified by its lack of “feet,” while still donning a character head.
Modern dispensers have been produced from 1980 to the present and have both a character head and “feet.”
The Do’s and Don’ts of Collecting PEZ
Do: Have a budget! Before you start your collection, think about how much you are willing to spend. This includes both the PEZ themselves, storage, and display, along with any shipping costs you might incur.
Do: Have a focus. Collectors often focus their collections on a theme or era. Do a bit of research to see where your passions fall, and then get started. And remember, modern PEZ are just as fun and worthy in a collection as vintage.
Don’t: Buy Broken or altered PEZ. For the PEZ to be worth anything, any broken pieces must be replaced with the same piece, which, as you can imagine, is difficult.
Debatable: To remove or leave in the package. It’s a challenging choice, and ultimately, it’s up to you. If you’re collecting modern pieces, it’s easier to leave them in their packaging. On the other hand, you might not have the option if you’re collecting vintage pieces.
While the best-selling PEZ dispenser is Santa Claus, there are many PEZ that have been released in limited quantities making them valuable. Let’s talk about some of these.
Regulars: These are the first PEZ dispensers to have been made and sold primarily in Austria and were first sold in 1948. They look a lot like a cigarette lighter, and if you’re lucky enough to find one of these, you should grab it.
Soft Heads: Unlike those with a hard plastic head, these PEZ dispenser tops were made of a rubber-type material. Several different characters were released with these soft heads, including Mickey Mouse, Captain Hook, and Wonder Woman. All were released in 1979, making them a great vintage find. A Capitan Hook soft head went for $1000 recently, so keep an eye out for this type.
The Holy Grail: To celebrate the 1982 World’s Fair, Pez created an astronaut PEZ dispenser that became wildly popular. The bad news, only two are known to exist today with one going for nearly $32,000 at a recent auction.
If you think you’ve found something good, PEZ has an excellent dispenser archive, Check it out here.
If you’re looking to start your collecting, check out our upcoming estate sales. We would love to see you soon.