The $1,000 Elephant


I’m not sure if I ever told the story about the time I sold a Beanie Baby for $1,000 on this blog or not. One time, I seriously owned the rarest Beanie Baby of all time. I found the photo above today, and decided since I didn’t have much else new to say, I might as well ramble a bit about this, because it is one of my cooler stories.

In 1995 or so, my sister gave me a little dark blue stuffed elephant for my birthday. She actually placed it on top of another gift, and I thought it was so cute. I put him on my bookshelf so he was displayed prominently, and I didn’t cut off the red heart tag because it kind of added to the cuteness.

Sometimes, I would toss this (and other stuffed animals) to my dog, Sam. He liked to catch things in his mouth. So, we’d play catch with the little blue elephant.

The following summer I was down in Ocean City, wandering the boardwalk with my then-boyfriend. We went into this shop that had a bunch of little stuffed animals on display, and the sign above said they were Beanie Babies. Up until that moment, I had heard the name Beanie Baby and knew they were a current trend for collectors and stuff, but I didn’t know what a Beanie Baby actually looked like. I’d always envisioned a little baby doll with a bean-bag body. Anyway, I recognized the little red heart tag on the toys, and said out loud, “Oh, wow. I have one of these!”

The guy behind the counter, interested in making a sale, engaged me in conversation. “Which one do you have?”

“It’s a little blue elephant. It’s really cute,” I said.

He pointed to a pale blue elephant in the display. “Is it that color?”

“No,” I said. “It’s dark blue.”

The guy was immediately excited. He pulled out a flyer that listed the top three most valuable Beanie Babies at the time. I still remember it. The most valuable was a dog named Spot. The second most valuable was Peanut, a dark blue elephant. (Third was Bongo, the monkey. But only if he had a certain-colored tail.)

Underneath the photo of Peanut were the words: “Current value: $1,200.”

I pretty much freaked out. I mean, what the hell were the chances that the ONE Beanie Baby I happened to own was also one of the most valuable ones?! The guy at the counter offered me $600 for my Beanie Baby if I brought it back there, but I wasn’t interested. I had a feeling I could get more money for it, if I waited and found the right buyer.

It was like winning the lottery. I called my Mom and sister immediately, all giddy and excited. My sister in particular was stunned. She recalled buying that elephant down in Bucks County, PA while there on a class trip. She said there was a whole basket of them in this little shop and she thought it was just so cute, so she bought me one. Had she known, of course, what it would be worth in a year’s time, she definitely would have bought a couple of them.

As luck would have it, my Peanut was in very good shape, despite the many times my dog caught it in his mouth. And it was just by chance that I’d kept the tag on it, too. Remember, I didn’t cut it off only because it was a cute tag. If I had cut that tag off, the thing wouldn’t have been worth nearly as much.

I started to visit a couple flea markets and talked to people selling Beanie Babies about what I had at home. It didn’t take long for me to find an interested buyer. A husband and wife offered to pay me $1,000 cash for Peanut. So in a very weird transaction, I met with them at the flea market after hours one day with Peanut in a large Ziploc bag, and they handed me the money and I gave them Peanut. They immediately closed him into a lucite container and eyed it like it was pure gold.

Here’s the weird part: I almost didn’t sell him because I liked him so much. He was cute! And I know my dog liked him, too. I didn’t know about people using him like currency. But fortunately, common sense prevailed and I sold him. I figured it would be best not to wait too long, because the trend could end at any time and his value could drop. I’m glad I sold him when I did, even though…

…a few years later, his worth was up to $3,000, according to the internet.

I watched the values for a little while, and they did drop back closer to the $1,000 mark. It’s interesting to check in every now and then to find out his value. I like knowing that I had one of these very, very rare things at one point.

I regret that I didn’t take more photos of it, though. The one above is the best one, and it’s out of focus and crappy. I took it the morning when I sold him. I should have taken some more. Still, it was a very cool experience and it’s always going to be surreal that it happened.

Oh, and I did end up purchasing another Peanut. I have a light blue one in honor of my original Peanut. I’ve also got a Bongo monkey and the one I have may or may not be worth some money, too… I haven’t checked. Maybe I should, just to find out.


3 responses »

  1. I know, right?! I’ve told a few people over the years who didn’t even believe me… thought I was making the whole thing up. It sounds very improbable, even to me. But it sure DID happen! It was so neat.

  2. Huh. This is crazy, especially considering lately I’ve been wondering what ever happened to all the people with like, 5,000 Beanie Babies. In special light-sensitive containers and whatnot. I’ve wondered how much those things actually fetch now (if anything).

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