Discovering the value of your vintage Christmas decorations can be a thrilling experience. Whether you inherited a piece from a family member, found it at an estate sale, or have had it in your collection for years, it can be exciting to learn what your vintage Christmas decor is worth. This blog series is dedicated to sharing the current market value of vintage Christmas decorations, so you have a better understanding of the potential value of the pieces you own.

Department 56 Jonathan The Bear Man’s Carving Studio

Department 56 Jonathan The Bear Man Carving Studio building in a display
Department 56 Jonathan The Bear Man Carving Studio

In this installment of “What It’s Worth”, we will focus on Department 56 Jonathan The Bear Man’s Carving Studio, an Original Snow Village series building. This beautiful village piece honors the renowned Wyoming wood carver, Jonathan Andrew LaBenne. The building is a wood cabin with many intricate details. From the logs and railings to the black bears carved into the structure.

This gorgeous building sold in 2003 for $75, I think today’s market value will surprise you. Click below to jump straight to finding out what your vintage Christmas decor is worth or read on for the history and background of this vintage collectible to find out what makes it so valuable.

Brief History of Department 56

Department 56 is a company that specializes in creating high-quality, hand-crafted holiday decorations. Over the years, Department 56 has become known for its intricate and detailed village buildings, figurines, and accessories that help bring the magic of the holiday season to life. Today, Department 56 is a well-respected and highly sought-after brand in the world of holiday decor, with a loyal following of collectors and enthusiasts around the globe.

Department 56 started as the wholesale gift imports department (dept # 56) of Bachman’s, a popular floral and gift center in Minneapolis. The Department 56 website best tells the story of how the idea of a lighted Christmas village was born.

“One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked. Amidst the jovial banter and magical memories, the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings. The rest is history.”

Department 56 Our Story Page

Brief History of The Original Snow Village

Department 56 has introduced many village series, but the first and most iconic is The Original Snow Village. The Original Snow village is a popular line of lighted ceramic buildings and figurines inspired by Small-Town, USA. The collection includes a variety of charming buildings highlighting the shops and neighborhoods of Main Street, U.S.A. Each building is carefully crafted with intricate details and is designed to look like it is covered in a layer of fresh snow. The Original Snow Village also includes a range of holiday-themed figures and accessories, such as carolers, skaters, vehicles, and Santa Claus.

The Original Snow Village was introduced in 1976 with 6 lighted ceramic buildings: Mountain Lodge, Gabled Cottage, The Inn, Country Church, Steepled Church, and Small Chalet. 3 years later, in 1979, the first Original Snow Village accessory was introduced. The series is designed to be highly collectible, with new buildings and accessories being released each year. In addition to new releases, others buildings and accessories are retired. Many collectors enjoy setting up a miniature snow village display and adding to it over time.

What Effects the Value of Your Vintage Christmas Decor?

There are 2 main things that affect the market value of a vintage Christmas collectible, Rarity, and Popularity. The rarer and more popular vintage Christmas items are, the higher the market value. However, in both Rarity and Popularity, Condition and Brand have a major influence over the Market Value. For a deeper dive into HOW TO KNOW if your Vintage Christmas Items are worth money, check this blog post.

All the vintage Christmas items highlighted in this blog series are Rare, Popular, or both. This is what makes them valuable. You will need to determine the condition and brand. For help determining the condition of any vintage Christmas collectible, check out my Vintage Collectable Condition Guide.

What It’s Worth: Department 56 Jonathan The Bear Man’s Carving Studio

This Department 56 Original Snow Village Building, Jonathan The Bear Man Carving Studio, was designed and produced as a tribute to the renowned Wyoming wood carver, Jonathan Andrew LaBenne. This village building was limited to one year of production. making it a rare find. The original retail price in 2003 was $75. Below are the estimated market values for the building in Mint Condition, Excellent Condition, and Very Good Condition.

*Note price ranges for estimated market values, not appraised values. Market value is what you can expect to get on marketplaces like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, or a vintage store/market. Appraised values can only be provided by a licensed appraiser.


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