So many booths at vintage stores have collections of figurines for sale. Popular tastes and styles of antique figurines go in and out of vogue, making it hard to know which ones might be worth buying, and which ones aren’t worth more than their decorative value.
What is a Figurine?
A figurine is a small statue, usually of a person or animal. Most collectible figurines are ceramic. However, you’ll also find them in pewter, wood, bronze, glass, jade and other materials.
How to Know if a Figurine is Valuable
Value often comes down to a question of condition. So, the better the condition, the greater the value. Beyond that, the rarity, age and quality of a figurine will also work together to determine its value. Chips, cracks, faded or rubbed away paint, and crazing can all lower the value of any ceramics, including figurines. Of course, if it speaks to you, then its value is whatever you think it’s worth.
Which Figurines are Collectible
Figurines are attractive, relatively small and are frequently given as gifts. As time goes by, figurines often pop up in antique stores. Tastes change and one person’s favorite collection can easily become the next person’s thrift store donation. Some makers, however, have weathered the years a little better than others.
Nicely detailed and colorful, Royal Doulton figurines were launched in the early 1900s and include their Fair Lady series of fashionable women. They range from a couple of dollars to tens of thousands for a single figurine in an uncommon color.
Delicate Dresden Lace pottery was made by dipping real lace into thin slip clay, putting it in place and firing the figurine. The extreme delicacy of the lace gives them a large part of their value. Dresden Lace pieces range from a few dollars to a couple thousand, depending especially on the condition of the lace.
Meissen is well known for producing attractive, richly detailed figurines. Value depends on condition, rarity and the style, ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands.
Staffordshire figurines have been a classic since the 18th century. The collection includes “flatbacks,” which are designed to stand against a wall, in addition to traditional figurines of people and the famous Staffordshire dogs. While many reproductions and forgeries exist, true Staffordshire figurines are worth a few dollars to a few thousand.
Figurines made during the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II (1947-1952) are increasingly popular and fairly common. They were cheap when first produced, but now fetch up to a few hundred dollars, and often have a fun, quirky, vintage look.
Tucked in packages of Red Rose Tea in England, Wade Pottery’s small figurines (called Whimsies) aren’t antiques, but they are a fun collectible, with many people attempting to get a full set of all issued figurines. There are even accompanying displays for them, such as an ark and a circus-themed piece.
Figurines come in so many styles and looks. It’s easy to find a group that appeal to you. Check some out the next time you visit Gaslight Antiques.