Collectibles are a strange thing. People buy them for aesthetic or sentimental reasons, or as an investment. The latter reason is kind of stupid, since if everyone holds on to and cherishes a mass-produced item, it never becomes rare enough for supply to go down and demand to go up. (See: Beanie Babies.) It took much, much longer for the market to crash, but that’s what’s happening now as Hummel figurines no longer suit modern tastes and their aficionados in the Greatest Generation die off.
My family inherited a Hummel recently when an elderly relative passed away. We expected it to be worth…well, a lot more than it is, so it’s a good thing that it’s a priceless reminder of a beloved relative instead of an opportunity to cash in. Other people looking to divest themselves of Hummel figurine collections have made the same discovery.
Prices, [antiques expert Terry] Kovel says, have “gone to hell.” “If we have a Hummel whose book value is $325, they are now bringing about $50, sometimes less,” wrote estate liquidator Julie Hall, the author of The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff, in an email. On eBay, ultra-rare Hummels still occasionally fetch big bucks — ‘Adventure Bound’ recently sold for $1,135 on eBay. But that’s the exception. Many other Hummels don’t sell at all — or sell for less than $50, a once unheard of price for Hummels.
Good thing I’ve invested my whole retirement account in limited-edition Snuggies, then.