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Collecting Byers Choice Carolers

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 @ 12:01 PM Karen Hood

How many collectors have started this collection we all love yet not understand the process behind collecting? These might be some of your questions:
What should I buy first? Should I start a series? Am I able to get the retired pieces to a series? Should I try to find Carolers that have been retired? If so, how do I go about it? Do they all appreciate in value?

From my experience of selling the carolers since 1983, I will attempt to share with you my insights into collecting.

Traditional or Victorian? – First decide if you prefer Traditional or Victorian style or if you like them mixed. Remember Traditional Carolers are dressed in plaids, felts, wool, or cotton material. The Victorians are clad in velvet, lace and moiré. They usually are very easy to recognize.

The majority of collectors tend to purchase either all Victorian or all Traditional. I believe mixing the styles looks the best. Some collectors like to choose all the same color tones but I feel it’s more important to mix the colors.

Family – Most collectors begin their collection by designing them after their family. Such as, if your husband has a mustache you would choose a Caroler with a moustache and similar hair color. For yourself you would choose a lady you feel resembles you, matching your hair color as well. If you have two boys and a girl in your family then you would purchase two boys and a girl. You can either choose Traditional or Victorian Carolers or one that holds an item that is reminiscent of your child. Such as does he skate, or ski? Did she work in a candy store (Kids with Treats)? I personalized two of mine with old toys. My daughter collects Donald Duck so I found a small Donald for a girl Caroler to hold. I had a very old matchbox from one of my sons so I placed it in the hands of a boy Caroler.

Have fun and take your time building your family. You can then add Grandparents, a favorite aunt or uncle or whomever.

Cry of London – Choose a series you like such as, The Cry of London. It may be difficult to acquire all the retired pieces but it is such a great series you’ll enjoy trying. On occasion we do have some of the retired pieces in our secondary market from our collectors. Joyce also designs pieces to accompany the Cry of London series. This is a great street scene for you to create.

Dickens Collection – This collection includes Scrooge, Mrs. Cratchit, Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig, Marley’s Ghost, Spirit of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim, and Happy Scrooge. These all were introduced as first and second editions. The only pieces left in this series in current production are Scrooge, Mrs. Crotchet, and Bob Cratchit & tiny Tim second editions. However Byers’ Choice is re-introducing Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig in the year 2000 for a short period of time. I feel certain they will re-introduce all the other pieces not currently available at later dates so if you do want to start this collection this would be a good time to do so as you will possibly be able to acquire all the pieces.

More recent collections or series are:

    Christmas Traditions – Christmas Traditions was introduced in 1999 with the Pickle Children. They were extremely popular and have been discontinued. And difficult to find. In the year 2000 Joyce has designed the next pieces in this series: The Children with Stockings, available only in the year 2000.

    The Williamsburg Collection – The Williamsburg Family of Four introduced in 1998 are now retired. There will be a new family of four available in the year 2000. The Colonial Man with Fife and the Colonial Man with Drum was introduced in 1999 and are still available. In addition there are two more pieces being added to this collection for the year 2000: The Inn Keeper and the Serving Woman (Bar Maid).

    Pilgrims – The Americana series as we at Wayside call it pieces in the series are as follows: The original Pilgrims (now retired), The Pilgrim Boy and Girl, The Indian Boy and Girl (retired) and the Plimoth Plantation Man and Lady (retired from open stock). In the year 2000 the Original Pilgrims are being re-introduced but will be carrying different props from the first version.

    The Nutcracker Ballet – The entire Nutcracker Ballet is now retired so this would not be a good series to start. Even though the pieces in the edition have not increased much in value some of them may be difficult to obtain.

Appreciate – Not all Carolers appreciate in value. The limited editions, privately made pieces, and pieces made for one year only are more likely to appreciate over the years.

I always advise customers to purchase the pieces they truly like rather than feeling they need to purchase them all. Chances are most collectors will never sell them anyway so why purchase a piece if you are not crazy about it.

Secondary Market – To purchase Carolers that are discontinued you will have to buy them from a secondary market source. Be prepared to pay more than the issue price. The prices fluctuate quite a bit so be sure that once you purchase a secondary market piece from anyone, you are satisfied with the price. We have a secondary market case in our store, which is supplied by our club members.

by Joan of Wayside Country Store

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