Collector's Corner: Figurines, Part 2: Precious Moments and Josef Originals
By Michele Alice
Hummel, Lladro, Hagen-Renaker - all are well known names in the world of collectible figurines. Here's a look at a few others that have developed devoted followings over the years. Part 2, below, covers Precious Moments and Josef Originals. You can find Part 1, covering Sebastian Miniatures and Bing & Grondahl, in the last issue.
When Enesco Corporation approached artist Sam Butcher about developing figurines based upon his popular drawings, little did anyone know to what it would lead. In 1978 the first 21 pieces were issued to the public and were an immediate success. Fifteen hundred figurines later, there is Precious Moments Park and Chapel in Carthage, Missouri, and collectors all over the world.
Each year 25 to 40 new pieces are introduced, while 12 to 20 are either temporarily suspended or permanently retired. In addition, there are limited-edition pieces issued for special occasions or for collector clubs.
True, many Precious Moments figurines have been produced in such large numbers that they are worth just a few dollars each, but collectors are always looking for the rarer pieces that they need to complete their collections. For example, "Chapel Exclusives" is a particularly popular line of limited-edition figurines, with collectors often paying up to $500+ for the hard-to-find pieces.
Large teardrop eyes, whimsical detailing, pastel colors - what's not to love about this enduring line of figurines? Especially if you discover that your yard-sale find is worth many times more than what you paid for it!
Josef Originals was the creation in 1945 of Muriel Joseph George, a southern California jewelry maker and her husband Tom George. When, during World War II, Muriel was unable to obtain the materials necessary to make her jewelry, she turned to designing figurines. She was mad about mice and sculpted them engaged in all sorts of activities - even blowing bubblegum! Muriel also developed several other popular series including Little Pet, Doll of the Month, and Birthday Girls.
All the pieces were made in California until 1960 when, due to competition from Japanese imports, the Georges took on a partner, George Good, and opened a factory in Japan. Muriel continued to design figurines until her retirement in 1981. George Good bought the company in 1982 but sold it to Southland Corporation in 1985. Applause Inc. now owns the Josef Originals name and continues to market copies of many of the original designs.
Collectors, of course, prefer the pieces from the Muriel George era, and are willing to pay from $20 to $150 for specimens in good condition. Originals can be identified according to eye color (black), paint (glossy), labels (any origin other than "California" or "Japan" is not collectible, and marks (early pieces were sometimes signed and/or had a circled C incised on the base).
By the way, are you curious as to why Josef is spelled with an "f" and not "ph"? Printer's error! For more information on any of these collectibles, check out the resources listed below, and
The History of Josef Originals Collectibles - Link - Nice article by Laura Evans for Life123 covers the basics.
Joseph Originals - Link - Article by Leon Carlson for Mister Find It includes history and identification tips.
Precious Moments - Link - Official website offers complete line of currently available figurines including the cross-collectible John Deere and Disney pieces, history, news, club, more.
Precious Moments Figurines History and Value - Link - This page at the highly informative 2-Clicks: Collectible Figurines site lists some of the more valuable Precious Moments pieces. Includes brief chart for identifying year made, care and cleaning, more.
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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