Precious Moments figurines now worth precious little

precious momentsLast week, WalletPOP looked at the tanking market for Hummel figurines. But there's at least one brand of kitschy, once-collectible figurines that has fared even worse: Precious Moments.

Enesco, a once-leading giftware company, began selling the figurines in the late 1970s, based on the drawings of Sam Butcher, who had been marketing a line of Precious Moments cards and posters for several years. The figurines caught fire because of their inspirational messages and Christian themes, and a hot secondary market quickly developed, with retired early figurines routinely selling for several times their original prices.

Now, thanks to rampant over-supply on the Internet, changing tastes, and the recession, the market has tanked.

eBay PowerSeller Tammy Fennell, who specializes in collectible figurines and operates Collectible Corner TV, told WalletPop that "the things that books are saying are worth $50, $60, $70, are selling for $2, $3, $4, literally. The worst thing that happens is they don't sell at all."

Fennell won't even take Precious Moments figurines on consignment -- she can't sell them. "There's nothing to them other than the bubble that was the market. If somebody told me they had 10,000 Precious Moments, we won't take them," she said.

While Hummel promoters and enthusiasts could at least point to the old-world craftsmanship and World War Two history, Precious Moments have been far-east imported schmaltz from day one. The lack of intrinsic quality has hurt their long-term value.

"Hummels have such a rich history, the Goebel story, the story of the nun who created them. When you look at a Hummel, you're looking at all that history," said Fennell. "Precious Moments don't have that. They've only been around for about thirty years, and the fact that they're made in Taiwan automatically lends a cheapness to it."

Still, Terry Kovel of notes that the religious subject matter of Precious Moments figurines may help them retain at least a cult following for some time to come -- but that hasn't helped the secondary market for the figurines, at least for now.

Got a collection of Precious Moments you can't unload?

"When people call me and say 'I have a Precious Moments collection and it's insured for $10,000 because that's the book value', I tell them to leave their windows open." notes Fennell.
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