If You Still Own These ’70s Figurines, They Could Make You A Lot Of Money

Image: Timothy Tsui // Flickr

If you have a Precious Moments figurine hidden away in your attic, get it out and dust it off. It turns out that some of these cute ’70s ornaments are worth a lot more today than you’d think.

Owning a figurine from the “Original 21” collection may mean you’re sitting on a small fortune. And one particular statuette is worth seriously big bucks: “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver.” As this 1978 ornament has been discontinued, it can only be bought secondhand – making competition to possess one fierce.

“God Loveth a Cheerful Giver” usually sells in the low hundreds, but you could pocket thousands of dollars if you’re lucky. In 2017 Paul Burton of Woolvey Fine Antiques & Collectibles told Today that he’d seen “valuations placed on it… in excess of $2,000.”

For those who grew up in the 1970s, the Precious Moments figurines likely hold fond memories. By the end of the decade, the ornaments were filling children’s rooms across America. Just a glance at the retro figurines explains why.

First, there are those trademark teardrop eyes, which sit in adorably angelic faces. Each figure tells its own unique tale, too. Plus, these ornaments make great gifts or special decorations for nurseries.

How to Get a Good Selling Price

If you’ve built up a collection of Precious Moments figurines, it’s worth trying to sell them as a package deal. One collector reportedly did just that and sold a batch of statuettes on eBay for $5,000.

And if you only own one Precious Moments figurine, find out if your model is still in production. Some designs are no longer being made, and in those cases, the values can skyrocket from, say, $15 to potentially as much as $1,000.

Image: Jean L. // Flickr

If you want a real shot at the big bucks, your Precious Moments sculpture needs to be in tip-top condition. That may be easier said than done, though, as the porcelain bisque that is used to create the ornaments is prone to chipping. Even a tiny flaw may cost you three-quarters of the value, according to Woolvey.

As with many collectible items, it may help to have the figurine’s original packaging, too. Woolvey has suggested that up to a fifth of the value of a well-kept statuette may reside in its box.

Limited-edition examples can also be very valuable. Collaborations between Precious Moments and Disney, for example, are attractive to collectors. So Woolvey advise that if you have a Collector’s Club edition in your possession, check the model number of your item. Anything that has a number starting in “PM” or “C” may be worth more than most.

If you were a member of the Collector’s Club, you may have had a figurine signed – which could boost its value. The most in-demand scrawl is naturally that of Sam Butcher, Precious Moments’ creator. But you can also attract buyers with the signature of Eugene Freedman – the former boss of the company that produced the figurines.

The History Behind Precious Moments

The figurines themselves wouldn’t have become an eBay phenomenon at all, if it hadn’t been for their creator, Samuel Butcher.

A keen artist and a devoted Christian, Butcher dedicated his creative talent to the Lord. After attending the College of Arts and Crafts in California, he began to share gospel stories through pictures.

Then Butcher worked in the art department of the Child Evangelism Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan – a Christian nonprofit that educates children. The artist started to draw distinctive pictures of children, and he named these sketches “Precious Moments.”

While at the fellowship, too, Butcher encountered Bill Biel. The two set up the company Jonathan & David and featured Butcher’s Precious Moments creations on posters and cards. In 1975 an invitation to sell at a Christian booksellers’ convention led to the pair’s big break.

In 1978 Enesco Corporation offered to turn one of Butcher’s artworks – “Love One Another” – into a figurine. The piece, which paid homage to his daughter Tammy, delighted Butcher so much that he cried with joy after seeing a sample.

By the end of 1978, 21 figurines based on Butcher’s sketches had been produced – which would become known as the “Original 21.” His work was so popular that customers wrote to him to let him know that his designs had resonated with them.

Precious Moments once did huge business; the collection brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. But when sales dwindled, Enesco scrapped production. So Butcher’s own company – Precious Moments, Incorporated (PMI) – had to change tack. Within three months, in fact, PMI became the manufacturer and shipper of its products.

Clearly, the move worked; the Precious Moments range grew to more than 2,500 figurines. And people all around the world started to collect the ornaments. The official club had half a million members at its peak; tens of thousands of people are still part of it today.

So it may well be worth digging around in your attic for those old, nearly forgotten sculptures. And even if you don’t make a fortune, you could still find yourself taking a pleasant trip down memory lane.