There was a certain era when every birthday or gift-giving holiday gained you some type of collectible, no matter if you actually asked for the item or if you just knew you'd be unwrapping one from that certain family member.
Living room cabinets became full of sports cards and Beanie Babies, while bedroom shelves held Madame Alexander dolls and vintage Lego sets. Today, the collector's habit still stands, though the walls of figurines and toys may now have been replaced by Stanley cups and Sephora products.
But even as some consumers have changed their buying habits, many still kept their initial stash of collectibles, be it for the memories they evoked or for the hope that they could be traded for big bucks — like Precious Moments.
Precious Moments is one of those brands that pulls at the heart and at a collector's wallet: marked by its Precious porcelain figurines of teardrop-eyed children in pastel-painted life Moments, from celebrating occasions to representing friendship.
Founding artist Samuel J. Butcher first featured the characters in illustrations on popular greeting cards before working with a sculptor to bring his works to life. In 1978, the original 21 figurines were released, and just three years later, the Precious Moments Collectors' Club grew to more than 400,000 members.
So what are these figurines worth today, and why all the hype? Scripps News spoke to antiques expert and appraiser Lori Verderame to learn more.
Which Precious Moments figurines sell for the most money
The original 21 Precious Moments figurines were released to worldwide acclaim, kickstarting a new era of collecting and gift-giving, the Precious Moments website states.
The first piece was called "Love One Another," featuring two children sitting on a tree stump marked by a heart with an arrow through it. It was inspired by the sight of Butcher's daughter and her uncle sitting together on a tree stump, the website states.
Today, "Love One Another" is the only design of the original 21 still in production. The rest can only be found with the will of a determined collector.
It's this bunch that Verderame told Scripps News is worth more than typical Precious Moments figurines. And back in the late 1970s and early 80s, some were even signed by Butcher, driving up their resale value even more.
While other retired designs range in value, Verderame said a sculpture from the original 21 can range in price from $500 to $1,000, and although it's still in rotation, an original "Love One Another" can get you up to $2,000.
How to preserve and sell Precious Moments for higher value
Like any product, the way you preserve Precious Moments will affect how it holds up, and you never know which designs will soon be the ones to watch.
Verderame told Scripps News handling the sculptures with clean hands or gloves is important to reduce their likelihood of deteriorating from oils or dirt.
But if possible, the expert said keeping them in their original box can improve their protection as well as increase their value, as buyers likely want the product to come as if it were an original purchase.
She also stressed knowing the true value of the figurine before pursuing selling is important. That means researching comparable items online or getting the advice of an appraiser before picking a price.
Verderame does have one overall tip for Precious Moments, though: She says any figurine with more than one form or figure on the base is worth more than a solo character.
Why do we love Precious Moments?
Collectibles have different appeals for different people: One person isn't going to care about your vintage comic books, while another would love to even be in their presence.
The widespread appeal of Precious Moments, however, is likely tied to their cute and nostalgic look as well as their being works of art.
Verderame points to their basis in "kindness and love and understanding" as being everyday themes the average person likes to promote, and the brand's creators agree.
"The message, its sincerity and integrity and the ability of Sam to express his work through these childlike blessings is what makes the Precious Moments collectibles so successful," said Gene Freedman, who helped bring the original 21 figurines to stores.
So whether you love your Precious Moments for their cuteness or for the potential payday, all's fair in love and trading.
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