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

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

Thomas Kinkade (Jan. 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012) is like liver and onions: either you like him or you hate him. Kinkade had successfully branded himself as the “Painter of Light,” a trademarked phrase. When not using that moniker, he was “America’s most-collected living artist.” Critics attack his work as over commercialized (he was a QVC favorite), lacking substance, and pandering to popular tastes.

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.

Whichever camp you are in, you have to credit Kinkade, as he 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.

The "Beacon of Hope" Kinkade Christmas figurine.

The “Beacon of Hope” Kinkade Christmas figurine.

A Thomas Kinkade Victorian womon Christmas figurine.

A Thomas Kinkade Victorian womon Christmas 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 later products either at list or a slight discount.

Kinkade’s prints and other licensed products were not cheap. Prints ranged 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 was likely less than $50. Actually, I’m trying to be nice. It was more likely less than $25.

Thomas Kinkade Winter Angel Of Light FigurineBefore 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.

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

You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” 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.

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to 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. 2013

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