You’ve probably been staring out a window, the snow, cold, and leaden skies adding to the post-holiday blues. To help distract you from your depressed mood, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at Winter collectibles.
Now, as you may or may not be aware, it has long been our contention that people will collect anything and everything – from business cards and produce stickers to first edition books and Dali prints – but that doesn’t mean that everything will continue to increase in value or that something that is currently popular cannot drop in value. It is a fact that huge numbers of “collectibles” are not, nor ever will be, worth more a few dollars, if that. As a seller, you want to keep your fingers on the pulse of the market in order to act quickly; as a collector, your timeframe is usually much longer, with the understanding that your “investment” could take a big hit should you eventually decide to sell.
The secondary markets are littered with items that enjoyed immense popularity for a brief time, only to have their bubbles burst and assets evaporate. (Beanie Babies, anyone?) On the other hand, there are some collectibles that have experienced a bubble, and yet continue to hold the interest and affections of collectors. David Winter Cottages are an interesting case in point. (What? You thought this article was going to be about ice scrapers, snow shoes, and fur muffs?)
David Winter was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1958 to noted British sculptress Faith Winter. His early interest in pottery and decorative tiles led to a joint venture with businessman John Hine involving miniature heraldic shields: Winter did the sculpting; Hine took charge of marketing and sales.
While the shields failed to gain much attention, the partnership led to the first cottage, The Mill House, in 1979. It sold out almost immediately, and resulted in the David Winter Cottage line of detailed miniatures that directly vied with the likes of Lladro and Precious Moments. By 1988 the greatly expanded company had received the Queen’s Award for Export and been named “Collectible of the Year.”
By the early 1990s, the secondary market for Winter’s cottages was exploding. It was not uncommon for pieces to be selling for many multiples of their original prices. In 1991, someone paid $42,000 for Provencal II. The piece, originally issued in 1981 but quickly withdrawn, had originally sold for approximately $15. Other rare pieces like Sabrina’s Cottage, Wintershill, and The Coaching Inn – all of which originally sold for much-less than $100 – were regularly fetching from $2000 to $6000!
Of course, such stratospheric prices could not be maintained, and by the mid-90s, prices and sales began to seriously decline. Enesco’s acquisition of the company in 1997 helped to stir renewed interest in the line, but it never regained its former glory, and Enesco ended its arrangement in 2002. From 2002 the cottages were distributed through a collector’s club in the US until 2010, when David Winter retired.
Today, while the number of collectors who maintain an interest in the line is much smaller than during its days of manufacture, it seems to be sufficiently large enough that, though many specimens at online auctions sell for no more than original retail, special pieces are still able to demand up to several hundreds of dollars.
Interested in learning more about this collectible? Check out the resources listed below, and
Alphabetic Listing of David Winter Cottages – Easy to navigate site provides pertinent info, photo of each piece.
David Winter Cottages History (Woolvey) – One of the more comprehensive pieces about the company.
Tycoon tales in a tiny cottage industry: The miniature cottages were not John Hine’s idea, and now he wonders how he let them become a business worth pounds 20 million (The Independent) – This news piece is a hoot!
The World of David Winter Cottages – Comprehensive listing includes every Cottage, variations, photos, more.