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Collectics
Precious Moments Identification and Value Guide
Introduction

Do you have figurines from the Precious Moments collection that you would like help identifying and valuing? Have you seen one you would like to buy but want more information on its value first?

Many of us purchase or collect figurines simply because they appeal to us. They are collected for what they are, not as long term investments. However, as manufacturers retire models and certain pieces become harder to find, the natural market forces will increase their values. At some point, most of us will wonder how much our collection is worth.

This guide will not tell you exactly how much your individual figurine is worth as the actual value will change over time, and on any given day you may be able to buy or sell a particular piece for an amount significantly different from the accepted "market value". Anyone that watches items selling on eBay will be familiar with the phenomenon of identical items selling for different prices only minutes apart.

What this guide will do is to help you understand the identifying characteristics that affect the value of your figurines.


Identification

Starting with the basic identification information, there are 2 factors that will identify your figurine for valuation purposes:
  • The model number
  • The production year mark
The model number

The model number is usually one of the following formats:
  • 5, 6 or 7 digit numeric (e.g. 12157, 114018 or 40001668)
  • 3 or 4 digit numeric prefixed with "PM" (e.g. PM-951 or PM-0022)
  • 4 digit numeric prefixed with "E" (e.g. E-0103)
  • 4 digit numeric prefixed with "C", "B" or "F" (e.g. C-0010, B-0002 or F-0008)
  • 3 digit numeric prefixed with "BC" or "FC" (e.g. BC-861 or FC-003)
There may be other variations of these formats, but these are the most popular formats used.

PM and C-prefixed pieces are Precious Moments Collector's Club pieces, which are generally issued for just a single year to members of the Collector's Club only. B, BC, F and FC-prefixed pieces are Precious Moments Birthday Club pieces, which are also issued only to Club Members. Note that some Collector's Club pieces also have no prefix or an E-prefix.

The model number uniquely identifies the model and every figurine should have one. Smaller models and hanging ornaments may not have a visible model number printed on the item itself, but the original packaging should state the model number.

The production year mark

The production year mark is a symbol incised into the underside of the base or occasionally in another hidden location on unusually shaped items. Each symbol is only used during one calendar production year and therefore identifies the year the piece was manufactured.

Note that the year of production, as indicated by this mark, is not the same as the copyright date that may be printed on the piece. The copyright date is an indication of when the model was originally sculpted and will not change as later copies of the model are produced.

A full list of year symbols can be found at www.woolvey.com/precious-moments-annual-production-marks-a-16.html along with their respective production years.


Valuation

Step one of valuation is identification. Once you have the model number and production mark you can check against a price guide for the market value at that point in time. Please note that while price guides are useful for a snapshot valuation for insurance purposes, they are often based on subjective factors and can quickly become outdated.

The following provides broad guidelines and indicators for valuing your figurines.

Value Factor #1: Age In general, the older the figurine, the more valuable it will be. For example, a figurine with an early production mark (like the hourglass) will be more sought after than the same model with a later production mark (like the butterfly). Age gives the figurine value because older models are less likely to have survived intact over time and the earliest models were often produced in fewer numbers.

Value Factor #2: Condition Precious Moments figurines are very delicate, being made of porcelain bisque. They can be easily chipped or cracked and many have small or exposed parts that can be broken off and lost. A figurine in perfect condition is clearly more valuable than a damaged one. Cleanliness is also a factor in condition but less of a concern as cleaning is usually possible without damage to the item. Larger figurines and those with delicate outstretched limbs or accessories are most likely to be broken and therefore less likely to be found in good condition. A good example of a larger, more delicate piece is therefore likely to command a higher value than a more robust piece.

The condition of a figurine can drastically affect the value. The value of a restored or damaged figurine may be no more than 5-10% of the 'perfect' value. Even the smallest damage can wipe as much as 75% from the value.

Value Factor #3: Original Packaging There is a little debate over this factor. Some claim that the packaging and paperwork is of no consequence to the value of the figurine as it is just paper and the object of our affection is the figurine itself. While many may agree that the figurine is the reason for purchase, there is clearly a segment of collectors that demand the original boxes and people purchasing as a gift will prefer the original packaging too. While the demand is higher for figurines with original packaging, the value will also be higher. Another reason that original packaging affects the value is that a figurine stored and/or shipped in original packaging is probably better protected than one that is not.

Although not a big factor in value, expect to lose between 5% and 20% of the value of a Precious Moments figurine if you are missing the original box. Note that box condition is less important than figurine condition.

Value Factor #4: Retired & Suspended Status Precious Moments models have been regularly retired or suspended over the years to make room for newer models. "Retired" means that the mold was broken and no more of that model will ever be produced, effectively giving those figurines a limited edition status at that point. "Suspended" means that the model is no longer being produced but the mold has been retained for potential future reinstatement. In some cases suspended figurines are retired without reinstatement and in other cases a reinstatement is performed just for a one-time event and possibly with a variation to the model. Reinstated models usually have a model number suffixed with an "R". For example, E-1379R is a reinstatement of the earlier suspended E-1379 model.

Clearly once a model is retired or suspended, the supply is restricted and the secondary market is the only way to access these models. This increases the value but the amount of the increase depends on how popular the model was when in production (i.e. how many were produced), how long ago it was retired (the greater the retirement period, the higher the value) and the level of current demand.

Value Factor #5: Limited Edition Unlike a retired figurine, a limited edition figurine is produced in a limited quantity or for a limited time period that is known from the outset. Limited edition pieces are generally more valuable for the same reason of limited availability but they usually start out with a higher price and therefore it is unusual to see a sudden jump in the value that might be associated with a retired figurine. The lower the number of figurines produced in a limited edition and the shorter the production timeframe, the more valuable the item will be.

Value Factor #6: Club & Event Exclusives Some figurines were made available exclusively to club members, usually with one of the suffixes listed above. These were usually offered to members for a single year only. As such these pieces are automatically limited editions and command a higher value because of it.

Precious Moments figurines were also issued through events and other 'exclusive' channels (including partner distributors) that would similarly make them limited editions.

Value Factor #7: Signed Items At Collector's Club events it has been possible to have figurines signed by the artist or other prominent person. Most people agree that a signed piece is more valuable than an unsigned piece. Some people specifically collect signed items. The most popular signature to have or want on your Precious Moments figurine is that of creator and artist, Sam Butcher. His signature will add the most value. How much value depends on the prospective buyers; signed items pricing is much more volatile than unsigned pricing.

Two other signatures you may find on Precious Moments figurines are those of Eugene Freedman, former head of the Enesco Corporation, and Yasuhei Fujioka-San, the Japanese sculptor responsible for turning Sam's artwork into the 3-dimensional figurines. These signatures hold a lesser value than those of Sam Butcher but are still collectible.

(c) 2008,2009 Woolvey LLC
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