Snowbabies are cute little figurines of children representing Christmas or winter sports. Since the early times, people used snowbabies figurines as decor, and for many years, department stores and gift shops had them in their stock.
Today, collectors search for valuable and rare snowbabies at antique stores and estate sales to add to their collections. Old snowbabies’ value can go from as little as a few dollars to as high as hundreds of dollars. However, it is quite challenging to know their rightful value with just a look.
In today’s post, we’ll share with you the list of the 19 most rare and valuable snowbabies you can find on the market. Apart from the list, we’ll also discuss the extensive history of snowbabies and how you can value them. Read along!
The History of Snowbabies
The journey of snowbabies started in the late 1890s when a German confectionery, Johann Moll, created the predecessors of snowbabies as reusable cake toppers. Their design was pretty much similar to sugar dolls used as Christmas decorations in the early 19th Century, and the idea of today’s snowbabies evolved from there.
The first ones to manufacture snowbaby figurines were the Hertwig and Company, but soon other manufacturers from Germany joined the bandwagon.
The popularity of snowbaby figurines increased in 1893 when Robert Perry’s wife, Josephine, shocked the world by traveling with her husband on his historic expedition to the North Pole to Greenland while carrying a child.
Marie Ahnighito Perry, the first non-native child to be born that far north, was born on September 8, 1893. The native Inuit traveled a great distance to view the newborn with the white skin, which they called Ah-pooh-nick-ananny, meaning snow baby.
After this event, German manufacturers made quite a name for themselves in manufacturing snowbabies with highly detailed faces. However, tables turned when the great World War began, and the export of snowbabies had a sudden drop.
After the War, when Germany faced a rough patch, Japan had the opportunity to grow its figurine market. Japan started manufacturing snowbabies in the 1930s. However, they remained inferior in terms of quality. Similarly, England and America also tried to take over the market, but snowbabies made in Germany were at par.
How Snowbabies Are Made
Department 56, a manufacturer of collectible ornaments, made every Snowbabies item with the utmost care, from the glittering twinkles in their eyes to the pink blush on their cheeks. Here’s a short behind the scene video of department 56 handcrafting snowbabies.
19 Rare and Most Valuable Snowbabies
1. Bob Timberlake’s Snowbaby Tree ($2,700)
Top on the list, Bob Timberlake’s Snow Baby tree, auctioned for $2,700 on Liveauctioneers, is the most valuable. It features a paper-crafted tree, and each branch is decorated with several Russian snowbabies appointed as children dressed in winter clothes.
Furthermore, it is also festooned with a rare Grandfather frost ornament, several paper mache birds, and some German wood ornaments that date back to the 1930s. This whole antique is a charming reminder of the past Christmases as it portrays a hint of early traditions.
2. Set Of Early Snowbabies & Christmas Ornaments ($700)
Next on the list is a set of snowbabies and Christmas ornaments manufactured before the 1930s. Originating from Germany, the set includes gnomes, snowbabies, children on skis, sleds, snow, carolers, etc.
The whole set portrays a Christmas atmosphere, with children dressed in old fashion winter clothes and gnomes adding a fairytale touch. The set won the bid of $700 on Liveauctioneers.
3. Lot of 11 antique German Bisque Snow babies ($475)
Sold for $475 on Liveauctioneers, antique german bisque snowbabies are third on the list. These are a lot of 11 items, each different in size.
The lot consists of a snow lamb, a Santa Claus sheltering a snowbaby, one baby on a sled, another in a cradle and the rest of the items are children dressed in white.
There is no exact information as to when these items are dated, but the soviet union put an end to Christmas in 1927, so it is safe to say that these are older than that.
4. Lot of 3 Antique Bisque Faced Snowbabies ($470)
A set of three antique bisque-faced snow babies, each valued at up to $157. What makes it unique is the artwork that the artist has shown.
Two of the babies are seated on different wooden sleds, one having a stick in his hand, his head downcasted, while the other is made to express like he’s riding a sled joyously. The third baby is on a ski, a stick in one of his hands and his cheeks blushing red.
5. Britain’s Snowbabies on Sled ($425)
Britain’s snowbabies on a sled is a unique design featuring two children on a single sled. It is a German artifact designed before the first world war. It has detachable pieces consisting of a sled and two babies.
This item was bought at an auction and is not available. The starting bid was $225 and went up as high as $425.
6. Elf Hides Antique German Bisque Snow Baby ($395)
This item dates as far as the 1900s. This antique snowbaby features an elf hiding from a witch behind a hut and the witch knocking on the door. It represents the time when witchcraft was familiar, and people used to believe in magic. It also portrays the fear of witches people had at that time and their faith in god. It sold for $395 on eBay.
7. German Snowbaby On Wind-Up Rocker ($325)
The item consists of a snowbaby dressed as a German boy with a bisque head and a rocker sled with a cylindrical container fixed on top. The boy is sitting on the container and can rock back and forth. The cylindrical container represents a candy container, and this item is a replacement for candy enclosures.
8. Britains Rare Snowbabies ($300)
This rare item consists of two pieces, a pair of cute snowbabies dressed as kids with different dressings. This item was created by the Britains, especially for the holidays, and hence were known as specialty items. This item is dated back to 1936 and is available on the internet for sale. The starting price was $50, and the winning bid went up to $300.
9. Two Unmarked Bisque Snowbabies ($225)
This antique item consists of two snowbabies with different facial expressions and structures. Dressed in white winter clothes, one has a gloomy look and a copper-wired cane gripped by both hands.
The other baby has a cheerful expression with a shepherd’s staff held by both hands. The staff is also made out of copper wire and may not be original. Nonetheless, it sold for $225 on Liveauctioneers.
10. Antique German Snow Baby Sits Or Stands Large ($225)
Antique German snow baby is rare and unique. It is designed in such a way that it can sit as well as stand. It is like a big doll with 4’ joints that allow its legs and hands to move. This item sold for $225 on eBay, and up till now, there are no similar listings on eBay.
11. Geo Z Lefton Holt Howard ($217.50)
Hard to find, Geo Z Lefton Holt Howard is an antique snow baby featuring an elf carrying a gift. Unlike other snowbabies on the list, this is manufactured in Japan out of ceramic and porcelain and dates back to the 1950s.
12. Santa Reindeer & Two Elves Snowbabies ($195.50)
This antique item is a set of three snowbabies featuring a Santa on a reindeer and two elves. One of the elves is doing a flip while the other is sitting down, and Santa has a cheerful expression indicating the happy moments of Christmas. This made-in-Germany snowbaby sold for $195.50 on eBay.
13. Antique Snowbaby Leaping A Blue Snowball ($187.50)
Manufactured in Germany, this antique item features a German snow baby leaping a snowball. It is made from porcelain and is no more than 2 inches. The snowball is painted blue, and the baby is in white winter clothes.
14. Long-Legged ELF Scarce Baby ($150)
The long-legged elf snowbaby is an antique and rare item with a unique figure that sets it apart from others. This item features an elf dressed in red clothes. Its face has a cheerful smile. Its legs are long and thin, with shoes bigger than its face.
Such artistry can only come from a manufacturer based in Germany, and unsurprisingly this item dates back to the early 1900s.
15. The Snowbabies Christmas Tree ($149.99)
The Department 56 Christmas tree is a reproduction of the antique German snowbaby tree version. It is a Christmas tree topped with children’s snowbabies, ornaments, and snow animals. It sold for $149.99 on eBay. You can still find another piece on eBay at a similar price.
16. Large Santa Germany Snow Baby ($145)
Manufactured in Germany, this antique item features a Santa Claus approximately 4 inches tall. It is a vintage item pre-dated in 1945 and sold on eBay for $145.
17. Antique German Bisque Snowbaby Pulling Sled ($124.99)
The piece dating back to the 1900s is probably one of the oldest snowbabies. It features a kid pulling a sled and three penguins riding on it. It sold for about $125 on eBay.
18. Department 56 Penguin Parade Music Box Snowbabies ($99)
Vintage from the early 2000s, this item features a music box with snowbabies and penguins on top. It is perfect for Christmas gatherings to charm the guests, or you can also keep it in your baby’s room.
19. Department 56 Snowbabies Jack Frost ($50)
Last, on this list, this item is a jack frost snowbaby. It features a snow baby that appears to be a Father with a kid sitting at his feet, not to forget a couple of penguins and a polar bear. The father holds the star in his hand, which is the guiding light.
Unlike previous items, this item is not compacted in size and is about 9-10 inches. Manufactured in Taiwan, this item is valued at $50 and is available in the market.
How To Value Snowbabies?
The overall value of snowbabies has improved a lot over the last few years. The generic ones in good shape can sell for anywhere near $50 to $100 each. However, the rare and most desirable figurines can fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
To know which snowbabies are worth the most money, let’s take a look at the factors that make them valuable.
1. The Oldest and Most Desirable Snowbabies
To know the snowbabies value, you first need to know who manufactured them. The most authentic and desirable snowbabies were made in Germany. On top of that, they were manufactured in limited quantities with utmost care and detailing, which hyped their popularity.
Today, antique collectors look out for similar pieces, and due to short supply and high demand, the prices skyrocket. For instance, Heubach’s figurine made in Germany, depicting a boy eating chocolate, has a more realistic look than figurines made in other countries. It sold for $1400 on eBay.
Since Germany was prominent in manufacturing snowbabies, older snowbabies from such origin are highly desirable and very rare to find.
On the other hand, the Japanese version of snowbabies is in abundance in the market but is low in demand. You can easily contrast the figurines made in Japan and the ones made in Germany. The Japanese versions offer less detailing with inferior quality, and rightfully they are also low in value.
So as long as you are paying around $5 to $50 for each generic Japanese piece, it’s not a bad choice. Check out this set of two cute vintage snowbabies from Japan that sold for $45 on eBay.
The next factor that determines the value of a snowbaby is its rarity. The rarer the item is, the more value it has in the market. That is the law! For instance, snowbabies with blue snow are harder to find and, therefore, more valuable.
In the collectible world of snowbabies, you will come across a lot of pieces. With that captivating finish, some will seem old and valuable. However, if they were mass-manufactured, then it’s not rare, and if they are not rare, they are not valuable.
But hey, how can we know if a snowbaby is rare or not? You can search for the piece on online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, Ruby Lane, etc. If you find every other seller selling it, you have your answers.
This is one way you can do your research, but you might not deduce a hundred percent accurate results. So you can also go to forums dedicated to collectibles, like Toyzine, and take assistance from fellow collectors.
When there is high money involved in a transaction, the risk of getting exploited by a con man is also high. In this case, when you find expensive snowbabies, you can also come across their fake replicas.
It’s a no-deal-breaker as long as the seller has disclosed that it’s fake and sells to you at a low price. However, the chances of getting deceived are high. From time to time, copies of rare and expensive snowbabies pop up in online auctions and flea markets.
The worst part is that you can’t really tell the difference between an authentic one and its copy. The cunning con men are making new ones from the same old molds, which sometimes even deceives appraisers.
To spot a reproduced version, diligently look for little black specks among the white snow. The older pieces will most likely be a little dirty and have some weathering due to handling over the years. The new ones will miss this characteristic, and you would tell the difference if you place the original and fake side by side.
So, in a nutshell, when valuing a snowbaby, ensure whether it’s real or fake to have the right value estimate in mind. The cliche statement – a real snowbaby will be more valuable than its fake counterpart.
Where To Buy Snowbabies Figurines?
If you’re wondering where to buy snowbabies figurines, you can start your search on eBay. Not only does it have an extensive listing, but it also has amazing filtering features like “Buy it now” to set a fixed price and “Auction” to let you bid on the piece.
However, if you don’t find your desired snowbaby on eBay, try your luck on other online marketplaces like Etsy, Liveauctioneers, and Ruby Lane.
With everything said, snowbabies are cute figurines that remind us of the winter seasons. They make great collecting pieces, especially those manufactured in Germany before World War I.
If you’re looking for valuable snowbaby figurines, we covered the list of 19 rare and valuable snowbabies you can find on the market. However, the list doesn’t end here; there are just a lot of figurines to add to the list.
Now with the help of this guide in knowing how to value snowbabies, you can surely add some more to the list on your own, Right?