Forget the living room or even the bedroom: the kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house. After all, we make a lot of precious memories there, cooking, eating and sharing valuable time with our loved ones. On top of that, the kitchen may also be filled with meaningful hand-me-downs – prized crockery, say, or beautiful glasses from late relatives. And whether we realize it or not, we may be harboring old items in our pantries that could be worth an incredible amount of money.
If you find something like this in your kitchen, then, you may have to make a big decision. Does the sentimental value of that particular piece outweigh the potential riches it could bring in? And if the answer to that question is “no” and you finally decide to sell, there’s very likely to be an eager buyer waiting to snap your coveted possession up.
Yes, there are collectors out there for practically anything of value – including kitchenware. And if you’re in need of some easy cash, it’s certainly worth digging about your shelves to see if you have any money-spinners just gathering dust.
Some items in particular could be worth eye-watering sums in today’s market. Indeed, in January 2020, one such piece of crockery was listed at a stunning $20,000 on eBay. But what exactly should you be looking for when you clear out your kitchen? And why is it so collectible?
Throughout the years, most of us go on to accumulate a lot of belongings – wardrobes full of clothes, perhaps, or a whole library’s worth of books. But, of course, these often treasured possessions can eventually take up too much space if we overindulge. And if that happens, there may come a time when we need to make a big decision.
As difficult as it may seem, a clear-out could be in order – especially if huge piles of stuff are threatening to take over the house. Naturally, then, when that moment arrives, we need to decide what we want to keep and what we can get rid of. And when looking over all the things that we’ve collected throughout the decades, we could find a few forgotten gems that have been hidden away.
The kitchen could be the room that harbors the most secrets in that regard, as old items can be unwittingly pushed to the back of cupboards. But don’t just take all of your old crockery to Goodwill. You see, you may have some pieces that – just by themselves – are worth a lot of money.
Certain types of Ball mason jars could bring in a sizable amount, for example. And if you have any green-and-amber ones, you could be in luck, as these are particularly valuable. It’s believed, in fact, that the rarest mason jars could bring in at least $400 each.
But there’s another item in your kitchen that may be worth even more than that – particularly if you’re an avid cook. After all, if you love spending time whipping up meals, there’s a good chance that you’ll have plenty of tools with which to do so.
Perhaps, then, you’ll have some cookie cutters in the kitchen. And, yes, these too can bring in plenty of cash if you’re willing to sell them to an avid collector. The coveted “Heart in Hand” cutter, for instance, is worth in excess of $1,000.
Other styles of cookie cutters, meanwhile, can fetch up to $500 per set. When having a clear-out of your cupboards, then, it may be an idea to keep hold of anything that you’ve previously used for baking. But these certainly aren’t the only hidden gems that could be residing in the kitchen.
Stand mixers, too, have been known to bring in a good amount of money for sellers. If you have a KitchenAid, for instance, it could sell for more than $100. And, naturally, if you have a product like that in your home, you should probably resist the urge to throw it away.
If you’re partial to a Cosmopolitan or Old Fashioned, on the other hand, then you may also be harboring a precious ornament. You see, vintage cocktail shakers are very popular with collectors – particularly ones with eyecatching designs.
One shaker from 1936 is believed to be valued at nearly $4,000, for instance. And if you have a 1920s-era piece that has been crafted to look like a lighthouse, then you’re really in luck. That particular item is said to be worth close to $24,000 if it’s in good condition.
If you’re not a lover of cocktails, though, then there may be something else in your kitchen that’s worth a lot of money. After all, regardless of our respective eating habits, we all use cutlery when sitting down for meals at home. And, in most instances, the utensils themselves are made from sturdy metal.
If you possess an antique silver set of knives, forks and spoons, however, then you may have some thinking to do. Yes, all the time spent polishing that cutlery may well pay off, as silverware of this type can attract plenty of big-money offers online.
As of January 2020, one silverware collection on eBay is being listed at just under $2,000. Several other sets have high prices on the auction site, too, with their respective sellers asking from around $400 to nearly $1,000. You could make some serious cash, then, if you have excess silver cutlery in your kitchen.
On top of all that, certain kettles are also quite valuable in today’s collectors’ market. Naturally, vintage pieces are particularly sought-after, and that’s good news for you if you’re looking to sell. That said, the price your kettle may fetch can depend on the type of material from which it’s been made.
Back in the 1800s, you see, kettles were mainly created from metals such as copper, cast iron and steel. And that makes them valuable; one “Swedish-style” copper example was said to be worth about $150 in April 2019. But that’s certainly not all.
In addition, a Reed & Barton silver kettle from 1889 could fetch in just under $4,000. But even if you’re not squirreling away a more than century-old piece, you may still have something very special in your possession – something, in fact, that has the potential to bring in serious cash going forward.
Take old CorningWare dishes, for example. You may immediately recognize these, too, for their attractive painted designs. But while CorningWare’s aesthetics may be appealing, that’s not the only reason why these kitchen goods were so popular in the past.
At the back-end of the 1950s, the Corning Glass Works business in New York came up with a new idea for a cooking product. Then, using a glass-ceramic material called Pyroceram, the company manufactured items that could withstand “thermal shock.” And if you’re wondering what that term means, it’s actually quite simple.
Thermal shock describes the moment when an item undergoes a radical shift in temperature – if you remove something from your freezer and immediately place it in the oven, for example. And if a piece of kitchenware experiences that process, it may risk cracking and shattering. With Pyroceram products, though, that wasn’t intended to be an issue.
Indeed, CorningWare dishes could be moved from place to place without suffering any damage. For those who spent a lot of time in the kitchen, then, the items’ flexibility would’ve been very useful. But despite this, the glass-ceramic pots didn’t catch on straight away.
In fact, after CorningWare’s inception in 1958, it took another decade or so before consumers started to appreciate it. And from there, CorningWare dishes remained on the market for the next 30 years or so ahead of their discontinuation in 2000.
The brand still had a presence on store shelves even after that, though, as stoneware items were produced under the CorningWare name at the turn of the century. Then, in 2008, the glass-ceramic products finally made a comeback. And even taking into consideration that eight-year gap, it’s believed that in excess of 750 million units of CorningWare have been created since the late 1950s.
All in all, then, there’s a good chance that you may still have some CorningWare in your kitchen cupboard. Given its adaptability, you could even still be using it for cooking tasks right now. But maybe you should hold off on putting your next casserole in that Pyroceram dish, as it could be worth a pretty penny.
Specifically, people have been targeting CorningWare goods that display certain patterns. If you’ve got one that’s particularly prized, then, you should clean it up and consider selling. But why exactly has CorningWare suddenly become so valuable? Well, glass aficionado Dean Six has a potential explanation.
Six knows his stuff, too, as he’s the author of a 2014 book entitled Mid-Century Modern Glass in America. And the writer offered his opinion on the CorningWare craze while speaking with the Australian magazine That’s Life! in 2019.
Six told the publication, “One piece of CorningWare, in a pattern not widely produced, sold on eBay recently for $7,000. It was a 1970s product that fizzled.” Then the expert turned his focus to the collectors themselves, sharing some insight into why they may want the dishes.
“Collecting is often what you remember [from your past],” Six explained. “Which is why [CorningWare] is big now, because [the] baby boomers are buying back what they grew up with. Boomers are decorating with these pieces in their homes.” But the $7,000 dish isn’t even the most expensive one on offer.
The real winner is the CorningWare boasting the distinctive – and most instantly recognizable – Cornflower design, which can generate plenty of cash. Understandably, though, some of the costliest pieces available come from the rarer ranges.
Products featuring the “Floral Bouquet” pattern, for example, were sold from just 1971 to 1975 before being discontinued. Similarly, the “Wildflower” set left shelves in 1984 after seven years on the market. And as a result of these ranges’ relative scarcity, pieces in those patterns could bring in around $10,000 each from avid collectors today.
However, the numbers don’t peak there. One item, labeled as a “Vintage CorningWare Blue Cornflower Casserole Dish,” was priced at $12,000 on eBay in January 2020. And as we mentioned earlier, another CorningWare product was listed at $20,000 on the website in that same month.
There are various other CorningWare pieces on eBay with prices in the thousands, too. Of all those on offer, however, two in particular stand out for the eye-watering figures they may fetch. And the first of these could be found in the city of Baraboo in Wisconsin.
The set is described as a “RARE Vintage CorningWare 1960 to 1970 La Marjolaine Collectible.” And in the image accompanying the eBay listing, three dishes have been stacked on top of each other, with each featuring drawings of tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers.
In total, the seller has priced that particular collection at just under $25,000. But yet that’s not the priciest set to be found on eBay. As of March 2020, there’s another user who’s looking to offload their CorningWare products from Columbia, South Carolina – and the amount that they’re asking for the items is astounding.
Specifically, the South Carolina seller has listed a CorningWare roast pan for cooking and a teapot that apparently serves six people. And both of these pieces are completely white, save for the distinctive blue floral pattern that marks out the Cornflower range.
So, how much are these items worth? Well, according to the person who has put them up for grabs on the auction site, a cool $32,000. And although there has yet been no taker for those particular pieces of CorningWare, such an incredible sum means it’s worth looking through your own cupboards – just in case.
Yes, if you still own a CorningWare dish or even a teapot, there could be cause to celebrate – especially if these goods are in excellent condition. After all, just one example may help you pay for a nice getaway if you find a collector who’s willing to buy it.
But, of course, CorningWare isn’t the only collectible out there – nor the only one that may be hanging around your home. If you or your loved ones have a few vintage figurines on display, for instance, then you should check their worth – as these too could earn you considerable sums of money.
If you have one of these figurines in a box in the attic, then, you may want to get it out and dust it off. You see, it turns out that some of these cute ornaments are worth more today than you may assume. But what exactly are these figurines, and why have they become so valuable?
Well, the tale begins on New Year’s Day, 1939, when future creator of the figurines Samuel John Butcher entered the world. Born in Jackson – a city in Michigan renowned as the place where the Republican Party first got its start – he was the middle child of five. And it seems that Butcher’s family didn’t have two cents to rub together during his youth.
Not too long after Butcher’s birth, though, he and his loved ones resettled in Redding, California. There the boy subsequently spent a lot of his time on art, as he hid under the table in the dining room in order to sketch and draw. But Butcher didn’t hide his ability forever; in fact, it soon became apparent to everyone around him.
And although it was difficult for Butcher’s folks to find the money for drawing pads, that didn’t deter the young man from pursuing his passion. Instead, he put his thinking cap on to find a way to equip himself, and consequently he discovered paper that a local factory had discarded in a garbage dump.
But art wasn’t Butcher’s only driving force. He also had faith, you see; in fact, he ultimately became convinced that he should dedicate his drawing ability solely to the Lord. And those skills were good enough to land Butcher a place at art college after he had graduated from high school.
Butcher actually won himself a scholarship to study at the College of Arts and Crafts – even if that meant moving away from home to Berkeley. While pursuing his education, though, he met his future wife. Then after completing his studies, Butcher set out on his vocation, sharing gospel stories through pictures. He also made ends meet by working as a janitor.
Subsequently, Butcher decided to take up a position at the Child Evangelism Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan – in what became the start of a ten-year commitment. And after a spell in shipping, he would finally achieve his break as an artist when the fellowship gave him a place in its art department.
At some point, meanwhile, Butcher started to draw distinctive pictures of cute kids with teardrop eyes. He named these sketches “Precious Moments” and gave them to friends and family as presents. The same drawings would find yet another use, too, as Butcher revisited the concept of using art to spread Christianity – this time via a popular kids’ TV show.
And while at the fellowship, Butcher encountered Bill Biel, who would become both a friend and business partner. The two subsequently set up the company Jonathan & David, which featured Butcher’s Precious Moments creations on posters and cards. However, in 1975 an invitation to a Christian booksellers’ convention in Anaheim, California, ultimately led to the pair’s business break. At the event, Biel and Butcher had a stand to themselves to show off what they could do – an opportunity that would end up changing both men’s lives.
Retailers flocked to the duo, in fact, as they tried to get their names down in order to carry the friends’ products. Other vendors even had to help Biel and Butcher take orders as they became swamped by eager booksellers. That great start didn’t mean that they had it made, though; they still had to take on other work to keep food on the table.
It’s probably fair to say, then, that Butcher and Biel weren’t slick businessmen. And when Biel had the idea of embodying the Precious Moments sketches in porcelain bisque, the duo realized their lack of experience. But while the buddies had neither the nous nor the money needed to make their concept real, in 1978 they would meet a firm that had both.
That year, you see, Enesco Corporation offered to turn a piece of Butcher’s art into a figurine. He had drawn the piece “Love One Another” upon glimpsing his daughter Tammy having a chat with an uncle. And it’s fair to say that the outcome delighted Butcher, as apparently he wept with joy after seeing the sample. The artist was seemingly not alone in loving the work, either, since the piece is still being produced to this day.
Another daughter, Debbie, provided the inspiration for a further figurine: “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver.” When she had been younger, she had used every cent she had to adopt pets from the local vet’s before rehoming the animals. And perhaps the enduring popularity of the piece pays testament to Butcher’s ability to capture Debbie’s spirit.
By the end of 1978, moreover, 21 figurines based on Butcher’s sketches had been produced – later to be known as the “Original 21.” And they met a welcome that floored Butcher. People even wrote emotional letters to the artist to let him know that his work had resonated with them.
And just a glance at a Precious Moments figurine goes some way towards explaining its appeal. There are those trademark teardrop eyes, of course, which sit in adorably angelic faces. The tableaux each portray their own tales, too, which makes them intriguing on more than just a surface level. In all, the figurines would therefore be ideal for a nursery, and they may even be something that a child would keep even after they’ve grown up.
Ultimately, then, the Precious Moments range grew to more than 2,500 figurines. And people all around the world started to collect the ornaments – even teaming up with others who pursued the hobby. The official club, meanwhile, had half a million members at its peak; tens of thousands of people are still part of it today.
Butcher didn’t just stick to drawings and figurines, though. In 1989, you see, he made the bold move of opening an attraction in Carthage, Missouri, that takes inspiration from his popular artworks. And since then, about 400,000 people have visited Precious Moments Park each year. Some may also find themselves drawn in by the park’s centerpiece – a stunning sanctuary that is partly based on Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel.
Yes, Butcher aimed big for his creation, which he designed himself. The chapel features thousands of feet of murals that depict Bible stories from both testaments as well as a celebration of inspiring children whose lives were cut short. Visitors can also enjoy beautiful windows of stained glass fashioned in hundreds of colors.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the chapel provides the setting for hundreds of marriages a year. And this connection between Precious Moments and weddings is not at all a recent one. In 1998 Enesco boss Eugene Freedman told the Chicago Tribune that the range’s “The Lord Bless and Keep You” figurine, which represents a newlywed couple, had already crowned more than two million wedding cakes.
And as that astonishing total suggests, Precious Moments once did huge business, with the collection bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. But there were to be bumps in the road. The figurines started to sell a little less well, meaning Enesco ultimately stopped making them. Following that bombshell, Butcher’s own company, Precious Moments, Incorporated (PMI), therefore had to change tack.
Yes, within three months, PMI had to grow to the capacity of being able to step in for Enesco. That meant very quickly becoming a manufacturer and shipper of products; on top of that, the firm needed to have the infrastructure to support the design and production of Precious Moments figurines.
And this was not to be the only hurdle for PMI, as in 2008 the company would face legal action from country singer Shannon Clemmons. She claimed that the business had taken her idea for a line of Christian characters and provided no credit for it; fortunately for PMI, though, Clemmons’ lawsuit proved unsuccessful.
Still, it appears that these issues didn’t put a permanent halt to PMI’s work. According to the company’s official website, you see, it still delivers up to 40 new statuettes four times a year. This all means that the Precious Moments collection has grown – and as we noted, thousands of designs have now been produced. That said, some types of figurines are no longer being made.
And when PMI ceases to sell a figurine, it sometimes literally breaks the mold. On other occasions, the company may suspend a particular model by stopping its production for a certain amount of time. Both these processes have an interesting outcome, however: they make a number of figurines scarce, thus increasing their value to Precious Moments collectors.
With that said, it’s probably not too surprising that a busy Precious Moments marketplace exists on the internet. And the prices for specific pieces can easily run into the hundreds of dollars, too. In one case, a figurine that you could buy back in the day for $15 may be worth as much as four figures now.
The statuette in question is among the “Original 21”: the previously mentioned “God Loveth a Cheerful Giver.” That figurine is no longer made today, meaning it can only be bought second hand. And although the model usually sells in the low hundreds, you may just hit the jackpot if you’re lucky.
In 2017 Paul Burton, speaking for Woolvey Fine Antiques & Collectibles, told Today that he’d seen “valuations placed on [“God Loveth a Cheerful Giver”]… in excess of $2,000.” Burton was slightly skeptical, however, that any one figurine would ultimately fetch such a sum. He added, “I don’t believe I have seen [any ornament] actually sell for more than half of that, although they are still occasionally listed for sale in that price range.”
Nevertheless, if you want a shot at the big bucks, your figurine will need to be in tip-top condition. That may be easier said than done, too, as the porcelain bisque that is used to create Precious Moments items is prone to chipping or cracking. Even a tiny flaw may cost you three-quarters of the value of the piece; anything bigger and nearly all the gains will likely be lost.
Luckily, a dirty figurine is easier to fix than a chipped one, and a thorough cleaning may in turn make your piece more attractive to potential buyers. You can dust the work with a makeup brush and give it a wash with mild soap so long as you don’t get water into the statuette. And while this may prove a tricky job, it could nevertheless prove well worthwhile – especially if the model you possess is typically prone to breakage.
In addition, it may help to have the figurine’s original packaging, as Woolvey has suggested that up to a fifth of the value of a well-kept statuette may reside in its box. One piece that was still in the packet it was shipped in went for $409 online; and this was part of a limited edition of 1,500 copies of “Make a Joyful Noise.”
On that note, it’s certainly worth seeing if your own figurine was made as part of a short run. And if you have a Collector’s Club edition in your possession, check the model number of your item. Anything that has a number starting in “PM” or “C” is special and may be a bit more valuable than most.
Plus, if you were a member of the Collector’s Club, you may once have had a figurine signed, and this too may boost its value to an online collector. The most in-demand scrawl is naturally that of Sam Butcher, but you can also lure buyers in with the scribbles of former Enesco boss Eugene Freedman or Yasuhei Fujioka-San, who made sculptures from Butcher’s art.
And it turns out that examples of the short-run editions can be very valuable indeed. One Disney special issue, which only saw 1,500 pieces made, went for $1,500 on eBay in February 2019. Collaborations between Precious Moments and Disney are common, and as you may imagine they can prove attractive to collectors.
However, that’s not the only joint effort in which Precious Moments has been involved. In 2012, you see, the company helped to create a memorial to a teen from Shelby, Missouri, who had passed away in 2010. And while Christy Maubach had lost her life in a car crash, she had certainly not been forgotten by her friends and community.
The Precious Moments team didn’t need to be asked twice to help commemorate Maubach, either, as sales director Patsy Larsen pointed out to the Herald-Whig in 2012. She said, “Each figure has a title – almost a story behind it – and this fell right into that.” In this case, the name of the piece was “I Believe,” which appeared in the creed of the South Shelby FFA – an organization Maubach had loved.
Made in both boy and girl versions, “I Believe” was then only made available through one store in Shelbina. And, amazingly, owner Jo Kampschmidt found herself inundated with orders from across the U.S. and Canada. In 30 years of selling Precious Moments, Kampschmidt had never needed more than a hundred figurines in stock at a time; on this occasion, however, she’d had to order in more than a thousand of each kind of the memorial model.
And this is not the only example of Precious Moments figurines being involved in remembering someone’s life after they’ve passed. In 2013 Missouri man Jon Stouffer gave mom Shirley’s collection to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks. She had received a breast cancer diagnosis in 1992 and died of heart problems in 2007.
The donation was a particularly generous one, too, as Shirley’s 25 years of collecting had seen her amass a gathering of at least 2,000 figurines. And, incredibly, the lot was therefore deemed to be worth at least $100,000. Jon told The Joplin Globe in 2013, “[The pieces are] going to a good cause. She would be pleased that they’re going to help somebody.”
In fact, collections of Precious Moments figurines can be quite valuable, with one big batch having sold on eBay in 2017 for $5,000. So, it may well be worth digging around in those boxes to find those old, nearly forgotten sculptures. In fact, the exercise could prove profitable even if you don’t own a thousand-dollar statuette.
On the other hand, if you do sell a dusty Precious Moments figurine for a cool grand, you may be wondering what to do with the proceeds. Well, you could spend nearly the whole amount on a new sculpture. Only a thousand copies of “The Power of Your Love Astounds Me” are available, you see. And while just one would currently cost you $974.99, who knows what it may be worth in a couple of decades?