By Renee Corbino
Every year on February 2nd, in Gobblers Knob, an area just outside of the little town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, people gather to watch men dressed in 19th-century garb hold aloft an unassuming and probably sleepy groundhog and proclaim whether or not it sees its shadow. If the ground hog sees its shadow, winter will last another six weeks, if not, the warm days of spring are sure to be on their way. Although the festival is most commonly associated with Punxsutawney, it is also celebrated in other parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Canada, and even Texas. Similar folkloric traditions take place in Serbia, Germany, and Alaska, where various types of animals are seen as weather prophets. The popularity of the groundhog has resulted in its inclusion in many types of ephemera, art, and popular culture and these items are easy and relatively inexpensive to procure as there is an abundance of Groundhog Day related memorabilia on the market.
While the Groundhog is no match in notoriety when compared to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or even the Tooth Fairy, there are many pieces of art and ephemera that have popped up to commemorate the little rodent. Even Disney got in on the action, and Winnie the Pooh meets the Groundhog in the cartoon movie Blustery Day in 1968. Postcards are always popular mementos and a Groundhog Day postcard sold by Jackson’s Auction in Cedar Rapids in 2005 brought $225, while a significant amount of money for a post card, it is well worth the price to any collector who is looking for a clever piece of Groundhog Day memorabilia. In 2007, Lyn Knight Auctions sold a large group of greeting cards that directly relate to Groundhog Day. $90 for 75 of them is a great deal! From the description it seems that they are from an intentional collection, built year after year of Groundhog Day attendance. (Tip: Postcards are a great investment for resale. Keep the ones you like and sell the others individually on eBay and you’ll be sure to make a profit!)
While LiveAuctioneers has a small grouping of items, the place to find Groundhog Day memorabilia is definitely eBay. A quick search using the phrase “Groundhog Day” gives 173 active listings, including a groundhog shaped cookie cutter (starting bid $1.30), a Gobblers Nobb Badge Pin (starting bid $0.99), Groundhog Brew Beer collectables (Buy It Now for $9.99), mugs (starting bid $8.99), a “Greetings from Punxsutawney” post card (Buy It Now for $12.99), a Mickey Mouse and Chip Chipmunk Groundhog Day 2008 Disney Pin (Buy It Now for 16.95), and even a shot glass (starting bid $9.99). My favorite pieces of memorabilia are original photographs of Gobblers Knob throughout the years, including this one of two men from a local lodge snuggling their “groundhog mascot” from The Morning Call newspaper.
Perhaps the most famous popular culture representation of Groundhog Day is the motion picture, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. As a child I watched this movie over and over again, even when it wasn’t actually Groundhog Day. Collectables from this movie are also quite easy to come by and currently there are many listings on eBay that pertain directly to the movie. Several publicity photos of Murray and the Groundhog are up on eBay with buy is now prices of as little as $10.99. The famous Panasonic Eames flip alarm clock that Murray destroys day after day, is readily available with prices as low$65 to the low $1000’s with some sellers obviously trying to cash in on the famous Eames / Howard association.
The Groundhog has earned a prominent place in American tradition, even though his weather predictions may not be entirely accurate. Once a year, the Ground Hog proves his rightful place in the hearts of Americans, and if you, like me, have a special affinity for the holiday, you can own a small piece of American folklore.