Posted on February 3, 2014
Fad Collectibles Part 2
Last week’s blog on collectible fads was long and detailed. Too long, too many details. Sorry about that. I kinda slipped into teacher-mode and overloaded you with what I knew.
The week’s Part 2 will be short and sweet, but the news is no better for the items we’ll look at today.
Precious Moments, Cabbage Patch Kids, Thomas Kincaid and Longaberger baskets were all desirable and highly sought after fad items for collectors at one point in time.
The prices were reasonable. The anticipated return on the investment promised to be high. Let’s look at each and see what happened.
Artist and illustrator, Samuel Butcher, began drawing pictures of endearing children in the 1970s. With a friend, he began a small company to make and sell greeting cards and posters that featured his “Precious Moments” artwork and uplifting messages. Then in 1978, Enesco Corp. produced a line of porcelain Precious Moments figurines.
Demand was high. Sales grew. Unfortunately, too many different figurines were made and the market crashed. According to Kovels’ recent newsletter over 50 different figurines were offered at $10 each at a recent charity auction.
Many buyers still love them, and you can still join a Precious Moments collector club and order special figurines available only to collectors. There’s even a Precious Moments collector cruise offered.
Cabbage Patch Kids, created by art student Xavier Roberts in 1978, were a popular fad in the 1980s. Each Cabbage Patch Kids had a cloth body, plastic or vinyl head and came with adoption papers. They had one-of-a-kind names and profiles.
The dolls sold quickly in the U. S. I was so into the fad that I purchased three Cabbage Patch dolls on a trip to France in 1983. Yep, I struggled with those dolls and their boxes all the way back to the states.
Once again, the company was bought and many, many dolls were made which deflated the market.
The early Xavier Roberts’ Little People dolls (before the Cabbage Patch phase) still sell for high prices. Most Cabbage Patch dolls sell for $10 to $30 now although you can find higher prices on eBay.
I finally allowed the grandchildren to play with the Cabbage Patch kids that I’d bought. They loved playing with dolls that had reminded Nana of their mothers and daddy.
Thomas Kinkade (1958–2012) began selling his oil paintings of idyllic scenes in supermarket parking lots. He added mass-market printed reproductions and many licensed products (mugs, stationary, vases, books, etc.), often using the limited edition plan. He became known as the “Painter of Light.” His prints were largely promoted with hard-hitting ads and direct mail.
As is the case with too many fad items, too many franchised stores opened, flooding the market with his merchandise. His work was no longer one-of-a-kind.
When Thomas Kinkade died, prices of all Kinkade items dropped, but Kinkade paintings are still reproduced and sold, retailing for $350 and up.
The handcrafted wood baskets made by the Longaberger Basket Company of Newark, Ohio became a hot collectible in the 1990s. The company issued expensive limited edition baskets. Collectors became swept up searching for them which made prices go up. After a while, the resale market collapsed.
Today even the most expensive original baskets sell for low prices. They can be found at flea markets and online for under $40, a fair price for a quality made basket unless you originally paid a hundred.
I still love my Longaberger baskets and use them all the time.
Your take away from this look at fad collecting should be to be cautious of high-pressure sales of “limited editions.” Buy a “limited edition,” but don’t buy it because you expected to have an investment. To truly hold its value an item must be very limited in production and very one-of-a-kind.
YOUR TURN: Have you been tempted or fallen prey to high pressure sales for “limited edition” fads?