'Peanuts' creator Charles M. Schulz's love letters to be auctioned
The love letters that 'Peanuts' creator Charles M. Schulz sent a young woman 23 years his junior are set to go under the hammer.
Schulz was once so infatuated with the woman that he sent her dozens of romantic letters and drawings of his beloved cartoon characters, many of the themes of that correspondence made it into his daily comic strips at the time, the New York Daily News reported.
Now those love notes from 1970-1971 are being offered for sale at Sotheby's in New York by the family of Tracey Claudius, who the auction house says is ill at her home near Philadelphia.
It's estimated the notes will fetch 250,000 dollars to 350,000 dollars at the December 14 auction.
Claudius met the cartoonist on March 16, 1970, while accompanying a friend on an interview assignment.
She ostensibly came along as a photographer but afterward admitted in a letter to Schulz that it was a chance for her to meet her idol and thank him "for all the enjoyment Charlie Brown and that 'stupid beagle' provide me."
She was 25. The married Schulz was 48. His comic strip ran for nearly half a century.
There are 44 letters totaling 56 pages, including 22 original drawings of some of the characters, primarily Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy. Many are signed "Sparky," Schulz's nickname.
Sotheby's says it the most significant collection of correspondence and drawings by Schulz to come to auction.
"He was quite a private and reserved person," Selby Kiffer, Sotheby's head of fine books and manuscripts, said.
"I don't think he carried on long correspondence with friends and acquaintances. There's no record in the commercial world and auction records of that," Kiffer said.
Schulz often lovingly wrote Claudius' name in triplicate: "Tracey Tracey Tracey."
One letter comments on Claudius' "good points," including being "beepable," "huggable" and "buggable" - language he applied to Lucy and Snoopy in later comic strips, like "Lucy playfully beeped Snoopy's nose" and Snoopy calling himself "buggable and huggable."
In two letters from 1970 Schulz writes that he must cease calling Claudius because his long-distance phone calls to her had been discovered by his wife.
Schulz proposed to Claudius twice but she turned him down for fear of ruining his reputation as one of America's most loved icons.