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Precious Moments: Collecting Christmas Ornaments and Figurines

Updated on March 2, 2013
Precious Moments Christmas Figurine "You Brighten My Christmas"
Precious Moments Christmas Figurine "You Brighten My Christmas" | Source

Ever since their debut in the late ‘70s, Precious Moments figurines have been a popular collectible porcelain figurine. The porcelain figurine designs are usually of adorable chubby children with teardrop shaped eyes and are hand painted in pastel colors. These collectible figurines are depicted in various scenes but their Christmas ornaments and figurines are extremely popular. Tiny little Santas with a sack full of gifts, adorable cherub like angels, and little children gazing at Christmas trees are part of their Christmas line. They also have an adorable nativity scene available.

The Precious Moments website goes into great detail regarding their most current figurines and additional information about their collectibles.  They also offer a newsletter with an email signup that features the latest news and updates and they provide free downloadable clip art for non-commercial use. 

Samuel Butcher - Precious Moments Designer
Samuel Butcher - Precious Moments Designer | Source

A Brief History of the Designer- Samuel Butcher

As a young boy, Sam Butcher’s talent was noticed by his mother who encouraged him in developing his artistic talent. He was a man of deep personal faith and convictions and his art was influenced by the Biblical stories his grandmother often shared with him as a boy.  Encouraged by his mother, he pursued an art career after graduating from high school and he earned a scholarship to the College of Arts & Crafts in Berkeley.  Sam Butcher initially began drawing his Precious Moments art as gifts for family and friends with tender themes that expressed his values regarding love, kindness and caring.

Around the early 1970’s, he and a friend, Bill Biel, decided they would start a company that would sell his “Precious Moments” art on a line of greeting cards and posters.  The two young men went to a bookseller’s convention in Anaheim, California to sell their collection.  There items were so popular that their small booth was overwhelmed by the retailer’s who wanted to order their products.

Shortly thereafter, the Enesco Corporation approached Sam with an offer of producing his “Love One Another” artwork into porcelain figurines.   By the end of 1978, the first twenty-one original Precious Moments bisque porcelain figurines were introduced to the market.  And the company’s success skyrocketed.

The collection is now well over 1,500 pieces with new introductions offered each year and the company and its lines of figurines has become world renowned.   Each year 20 to 40 figurines are produced and 12 to 20 existing figurines will be retired from production.   When the figurines are officially retired , the mold is broken never to be produced again.  Others are considered suspended when the company stops production of the figurines and retains the mold for future production.

Precious Moments Disney Figurines

While the Precious Moments figurines were already cherished and very popular as they were designed.  Their popularity increased even more when they began producing well loved Disney figurines.   The Disney Princess line included Ariel, Cinderella, Belle and others.  Collectors can collect these figurines as individuals or as a member of collecting clubs.  The Precious Moments Collectors' Club was established in 1981 and has become the largest such organization in the world with over 400,000 members.

Disney Precious Moments Collection "Friends Share Caring Hearts"
Disney Precious Moments Collection "Friends Share Caring Hearts" | Source
 "Make Everyday Magical"
"Make Everyday Magical"
 "You Make All My Wishes Come True"
"You Make All My Wishes Come True"

What is Bisque Porcelain?

Unlike clay pottery, porcelain is unglazed, white ceramic ware that is hard-fired, non-porous, and translucent.  Porcelain clay is a mixture of kaolin, feldspar, and ground flint. Porcelain collectibles are subjected to a first firing in a gas-fired kiln in which they are baked at a temperature of about 2,300° F (1,260° C) for 14 hours. Other types of bisque porcelain may be fired for as much as 70 hours to produce a hardened piece with an unglazed finish.

This porcelain process has been produced since centuries past by the Chinese, and its development was a trade secret for many centuries.  Porcelain became extremely popular in the mid-1700s in Europe when manufacturers were able to copy the quality of Chinese porcelain by adding bone ash into available clay materials and improving the firing processs, from there the manufacture of porcelain increased.  The early French designed beautiful figurines and made busts and medallion type portraits at the factories of Sévres, Mennency-Villeroy, and Vincennes.  By Victorian times, bisque porcelain was used to make the heads and arms of dolls.  In modern times, bisque porcelain has been used for making quality figurines and collectibles as well and the production process is constantly improved and refined.

A porcelain figurine begins from the artist’s sketch.  From there a master sculptor sculpts and models the design in clay making sure he follows every detail the artist has included in the original sketch.  Once the clay model is accepted and approved, a mold is made and the porcelain figurine is approved for mass production. 

Bisque porcelain collectibles are highly prized as gifts, decorative collectibles, and popular décor for the home and will continue to be in the future. 

Buying Sources & Valuing Your Collectibles

Precious Moments collectibles are available in many fine gift and novelty shops. There are a few books that have been published that provide information regarding the details of when they were first issued, what they initially sold for and what their value is today. However, the prices usually quoted in these books give the retail value of the figurine and don’t seem to take into consideration the prices available on online auction sites like Ebay or Rubylane. These online auction sites have made Precious Moments figurines available at affordable prices to the collector; however, they do devalue the existing collectibles you might own. Also, huge online merchants like Amazon offer considerable discounts on new merchandise. In any case, a dedicated collector is bound to find great deals in either of these sources.

If you want to get online valuations of your Precious Moments collectibles, there is a website called Precious Moments Online (powered by the Collectibles Database) that will give you the value of your collectible for an annual fee of $19.95 if you are a Precious Moments Club member.  If you are not a member, the annual fee is $29.95.

 According the website, the base service includes full and unlimited access to original product information including original pricing, dimensions, product descriptions, item numbers and full-color photos.  In addition,  they also  include the ability to search product information and the ability to create an inventory of your items and print reports of that information.  This seems like a good site for establishing insurance valuations.

Tips to Care for Your Bisque Porcelain Figurine

  • It's best to keep figurines out of direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight over an extended period of time can fade the coloring of the figurine.
  • Keep it dusted with a soft bristled paintbrush which can remove the dust and grit from crevices in the figurine or you might want to use a can of compressed air to blow away the dust and grit.
  • If the figurine has any spot or stain, try to use a soft cloth that has been submerged into a mild detergent and warm water, and dab at the stain or spot rather than using a scrubbing motion.
  • It’s usually a good idea to keep your porcelain collectibles behind glass, this way you won’t have to dust them as often and can reduce the potential of chips or breaks on the actual figurine.
  • Try not to submerge your figurine in water.  However, if you have a stain that can only be removed by placing the figurine in water, don’t submerge it for more than a few seconds.  Be sure that you place rubber mats or soft towels nearby to prevent any potential chips or knicks to the figurine.

Santa Precious Moments Figurine "May Your Christmas Ring With Joy"
Santa Precious Moments Figurine "May Your Christmas Ring With Joy" | Source

Precious Moments - How They Are Made

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