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Love ’Em or Hate ’Em: Thomas Kinkade Christmas Figurines Abound

by Harry Rinker (12/01/09).

Thomas Kinkade’s works are like liver and onions: either you like him or you hate him.

Thomas Kinkade’s works are like liver and onions: either you like them or you hate him.

I received a note from a collector of Thomas Kinkade figurines who receives a new one every two months, thanks to a subscription. She wanted to know if they will increase in value over time.

Thomas Kinkade (born on January 19, 1958 in Sacramento, Ca.) is like liver and onions: either you like him or you hate him. Kinkade has successfully branded himself as the “Painter of Light,” a trademarked phrase. When not using that moniker, he is “America’s most-collected living artist.” Critics attack his work as over commercialized (he is a QVC favorite), lacking substance, and pandering to popular tastes.

Whichever camp you are in, you have to credit Kinkade, as he has created one of the best mass-marketing programs for printed reproductions and related licensed products during the last quarter of the 20th century. His reach and popularity is equivalent to the Norman Rockwell mass-marketing program of the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Alas, we all know what happened to the secondary market value (more correctly, lack of value) of these items.

Beacon of Hope Kinkade figurine

Beacon of Hope Kinkade figurine

Unlike the 1960s-1980s Rockwell-licensed products, a speculative secondary market has not developed for Kinkade material. I checked eBay and other Internet sources. Most listings were by dealers trying to sell current product either at list or a slight discount.

Kinkade’s prints and other licensed products are not cheap. Prints range from the middle hundreds to low thousands. And then throw in another two hundred dollars for framing. There is profit aplenty in these prices, since the actual off the press price for the print is likely less than $50. Actually, I’m trying to be nice. It is more likely less than $25.

Winter Angel of Light Kinkade figurine

Winter Angel of Light Kinkade figurine

Before I conduct an appraisal clinic, I say a silent prayer asking God to please not make me deal with a variety of items. Cruise ship art and Thomas Kinkade products are on the list.

The simple answer to the question is that you have a greater chance of winning a lottery than your Kinkade figures have of increasing in value in the next 50 years. In 25 years, I expect the secondary market will be half or less of their initial sale price. Optimists hold out the hope that future generations will see through the crass commercialism of Kinkade and develop a finer and more sophisticated art appreciation. I am only dipping my toe in their stream of consciousness.

As with all contemporary products, buy the Kinkade figures because you like them and plan to live with them until you die. Remember, you always can use them as gifts.

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Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site.

You can listen and participate in “WHATCHA GOT?,” Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.

“SELL, KEEP OR TOSS? HOW TO DOWNSIZE A HOME, SETTLE AN ESTATE, AND APPRAISE PERSONAL PROPERTY” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site: http://www.harryrinker.com

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected letters will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. E-mail your questions to: harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.

Copyright © Rinker Enterprises, Inc. 2009

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