You may be familiar with the snow baby figurines that many department stores and gift shops have been selling for years now. These collectible figurines and ornaments depict babies in several winter and Christmas settings with prices varying from less than $10 to more than $100, depending on the model and its condition. Price lists for these ornaments can be found on eBay, Young's Ltd and Department 56. Snowbabies are released each year and retired after a certain duration. Retired models are often of high value, especially if the original box is still available.
Department 56, a collectible company headquartered in Minnesota, released the first batch of Snowbabies in 1986. Snowbaby collectors have been around since day one, making retirement of unique and rare designs that much more significant to serious collectors.
The First Snow Baby Figurines
According to Carouselgifts, German confectioner Johann Moll created the predecessors to today’s Snowbabies in the 1890s as reusable cake toppers. Their design was based off of sugar dolls used in the early nineteenth century as Christmas decorations. Hertwig and Company were the original manufacturers, but soon after, other porcelain factories in Germany started producing similar figurines.
In a catalog dated to 1914, Snowbabies were referred to as "Alaska Tots." Back then, these lovely one-and-three-quarter inch figures were valued at 90 cents a dozen. Currently, these increasingly difficult to find items each cost between $50 and $100 depending on their pose.
Department 56’s classic Snowbabies collection includes all Snowbabies that aren't part of any other special collections, such as standard figurines, music boxes and water globes. The classic collection began with the first snow babies and continues today, with one example being 2006’s "Christmas Caravan." If you own a classic Snowbaby, hold on to it, as it may be worth far more in a few years than it is today.
Miniature Snowbaby Ornaments
Miniature Snowbabies are some of the smallest ornaments ever produced by the company. Production began in 1998 and halted in 2004. For the most part, these figurines were released annually during the holiday season and featured an ivory ribbon with the term "Snowbabies" embroidered in gold or silver thread. Often hung as a tree ornament using the ribbon, each mini-Snowbaby was specially crafted to portray a sentiment of love, friendship or inspiration. Currently, miniature Snowbabies cost $35.87 on average.
Most Desirable Snowbabies
The oldest and most coveted Snowbabies from a collector’s point of view were designed in Germany with the utmost care and made in limited quantities. For instance, the faces of the Heubach's figurines generally look more realistic in comparison to those produced later in Japan and other places. Moreover, Snowbabies featuring blue snow are considered very valuable, as they’re harder to find — unlike those portraying animals, Santa Claus or "snow" porcelain crumbs. Although these collectibles aren’t true Snowbabies in the brand sense, they’re often marketed as such and placed together in displays due to their close resemblance. In some cases, these can be far more valuable than their brand-name cousins.
Snow Baby Value Over Time
Perhaps you're wondering if new snowbabies will gain value as time goes on? Because modern figurines are mass-produced and sold specifically as collectibles, they often don’t gain value beyond the price paid for them, as only other collectors are interested in them. However, limited figurines produced in lower production runs and special collectibles figurines that may have crossover collecting lure.