Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Collectibles
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the longest-running holiday special in television history.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer holds a special place in the heart of many holiday collectible enthusiasts. After all, who can resist his adorable looks, resilient personality, and flawless work ethic?
Now a universally recognized harbinger of Christmas, Rudolph was penned by author Robert L. May and made his first appearance in a 1939 Montgomery Ward holiday brochure. World War II put limits on commercial business, delaying the story’s inevitable worldwide popularity. However, the poem about the can-do reindeer with the glowing red nose was indeed such a hit that postwar it was published as a mass market book in 1947, made into a short cartoon in 1948, produced as a song in 1949, and illustrated in a series of comic books from 1950 onward. Most of us are familiar with the 1964 stop motion animated TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – which is still broadcasted annually with great fanfare, tradition, and nostalgia.
Given his place in our popular culture, it should be no surprise that newer as well as vintage Rudolph-themed collectibles are in great demand, and can generate a pretty penny. According to Worthpoint’s Worthopedia, below are some of the more interesting, and unusual Rudolph items to change hands at auction in 2017. Do you happen to have any of these red-hot items lying around your home?
Lenox China Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Dash Away All Figurine:
Lenox produced a series of ivory china figurines representing Santa in a sled and his reindeer team in the 1999 to 2003 timeframe. The reindeer were made as pairs while the Rudolph stood alone. All the components were about 6” tall, very detailed, and highlighted with gold paint. Rudolph had a red nose as well. In October, 2017 a Rudolph from this set in its original box sold for $315.
Gallery of Light Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer “Light the Way, Rudolph” Diorama:
This Rudolph diaroma, featuring Santa, Rudolph, and a few forest friends, measured 4” x 5.5” x 4”; and in June 2017 sold for $750.
Robert “Bob” William John Olszewski, a celebrated miniature artist, collaborated with The Disney Company to produce a series of 3D, highly detailed and perfectly to scale illuminated dioramas based on some of the company’s most beloved films and properties. They included old and new favorites like Pirates of the Caribbean, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, and many others. All were limited editions and reflected pinnacle moments in the films they represent. His Rudolph version, featuring Santa, Rudolph, and a few forest friends, measured 4” x 5.5” x 4”; and in June 2017 sold for $750.
Jeff Koons’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Paddle Ball Game:
Koons’ limited edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer paddle ball game, in its original box, sold for $1,500 in October 2017.
Koons is a popular modern artist who often integrates modern culture – and kitsch – into his works. Highly in demand, his Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at Christie’s in NYC in 2013 for $58.4 million dollars – the most expensive piece sold at auction by a living artist. In 2000, he created a limited edition of 900 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer paddle ball games in conjunction with an exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim. The “game” itself was made of wood and metal, and decorated with a thermo-litho design. It measured 12.4” x 8” x 2.4”; in October, 2017 one in its original box sold for $1,500.
Rudy Reindeer Kiddie Amusement Park Ride:
It’s off to the races with this next Rudolph highlight – a 1950’s era coin operated child’s ride. It was produced from cast aluminum and manufactured by United Tooling & Engineering. The company produced this model specifically to appeal to children during the holiday season. Rudolph was saddled and appeared to be flying; the ride cost $0.25 per session. Given his lovely, working, and all original condition, it is clear that this Rudolph spent most of his life far from the North Pole! This ride sold in April 2017 for $3,750.
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Cookie Jar:
This cookie jar was made by American Bisque and sold for $1000 in May, 2017.
Rudolph and Christmas characters are very popular cookie jar themes today, with companies like Enesco and Hallmark producing regular editions to keep up with holiday demand. This early Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer cookie jar is made from heavy bisque pottery, measures about 9-1/2″ x 8″ x 4-1/2″, and is marked “RLM COPYRIGHT.” RLM is short for “Robert L. May,” Rudolph’s creator. This cookie jar was made by American Bisque, a company that originated in Williamstown, WV in 1919. American Bisque was well known for producing cookie jars with cartoon and popular culture themes. This example is thought to be from the late 1940’s or early 1950’s, and sold for $1000 in May 2017.
Airline “Rudolph” Radio:
This final Rudolph rarity should be music to your ears. Dating from about 1951, this Rudolph compact four tube AM radio was made from plaskon, a plastic like material. It was made for and sold by the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores and measured about 7-1/2” x 6″ x 5-1/2”. When plugged in, Rudolph’s red nose lit up as the radio played. Airline also produced a “Lone Ranger” radio, in an almost identical pattern to this one, in 1951. This Rudolph radio sold for $599 in April 2017.
Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles. You can follow her blog, which focuses on vintage Steiff finds, Steiff antiquing and travel adventures, international Steiff happenings, and the legacy and history of the Steiff company at http://mysteifflife.blogspot.com. Sign up for her Steiff newsletter by contacting her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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