You know them: They're the ubiquitous Kewpie-cute, pastel porcelain figurines that have graced many an American home, especially in the 1980s. (In my case, on the cover of a pearlescent children's bible.) We're talking about Precious Moments, and they could be worth big bucks.
The latest "cash in the attic" craze for antiques and collectibles, the TODAY Show revealed this week that some Precious Moments memorabilia is currently going for as much as $2,000 at auction.
The most sought-after and valuable figurine is one of the original 21 Precious Moments collectibles released in 1979: a porcelain sculpture of a girl pulling a cart full of spaniels while holding a sign that says "FREE PuPPies" called "God Loveth a Cheerful Giver." It originally retailed for $15, but is now regularly selling on eBay for around $200 and has had auction valuations in excess of $2,000, according to Paul Burton, a spokesperson for Woolvey Fine Antiques & Collectibles, which specializes in selling retired and limited-edition figurines.
"I don't believe I have seen one actually sell for more than half of that, although they are still occasionally listed for sale in that price range," Burton told TODAY.
Other Precious Moments figurines from the early 80s commanding values in the $200 to $1,000 range include those signed by master sculptor Hiko Maeda or artist Sam Butcher, Real Simple reports.
Good news for speculators (or those who just love the vintage figurines and don't want to pay a fortune to rebuild their personal collections): word has not yet reached Etsy shops selling Precious Moments, where the majority of styles can be found between $5 and $50, including some actually darling pieces such as a bride and groom in a convertible (cake topper, anyone?) as well as an entire wedding party lineup, an adorable little cowboy with a guitar sitting on a fence and flanked by two mice backup singers, and several more charming styles. Including puppies, lots and lots of puppies.
If you're thinking about listing your collection for sale or taking them in for appraisal, experts advise cleaning each figurine with a soft makeup brush to remove dust and then carefully hand washing with soap and water, making sure not to get any water trapped inside the statuette.