My library got in the most recent book collection of Peanuts comic strips, 1953-54. This is one of those things that, had I a six-figure income, I would be snapping up at once. Peanuts is mostly known in the form it had over the last twenty years or so. But the content, characters and drawing style from the 50's and 60's is my favourite. The punchlines are better, the content is fresher and more varied. Schulz went downhill after his strip became an institution. I wouldn't say that he just began to phone it in, but the quality wasn't there like it was the first few decades.
In these two years, Lucy and Schroeder start to come into their own and Linus begins appearing with greater frequency. Pig Pen is introduced as well as the little-known Charlotte Braun. (No, I did not make that up.)
Random trivia note: Schulz had the title Peanuts imposed on him by his syndicate and always hated it. The reason you could never figure out the connection to his strip? There wasn't one. Presumably, he didn't have enough clout to change the title at first, and after becoming famous he couldn't change the title and risk confusing people.