In 1976, six ceramic buildings, each with a delicate glow, were released by Department 56 as “The Original Snow Village”. Three years later they were retired and replaced by twelve new buildings. And so the collectibles world of Dept. 56 was born. Founded by Edward R. Baiznet, a former employee of Bachman Holdings. At Bachman’s each division was numbered, including the wholesale gift imports which was run by Baiznet. You can probably guess the number associated with this particular department of the company…Department 56. Mr. Baiznet branched off, creating his own company within Bachman Holdings, and calling it Department 56. The product line now consists of over 3,000 different items. Every year around 600 new items are introduced while items from previous seasons are discontinued.
Some of the most popular items released by Dept. 56 include the Dickens Village and Snowbabies. In 1984, Department 56 released the Dickens Village series. The village was and continues to be a favorite, with some villages selling for upwards of $8500.00 The Victorian themed village had seven shops and included a church. Snowbabies were porcelain and pewter figures released in 2015 and were an instant hit with Dept. 56 collectors. Created by artist Kristi Jensen Pierro, the Snowbabies were so popular they even had their own book full of poetry and stories covering their adventures together.
Here’s a short list of some of the most expensive Department 56 collectibles:
The Empire State Building Item $600-$800
At 23.5″ tall, the Empire State Building is the tallest building created and released by Dept. 56. It is part of the Christmas in the City Historial Landmark series and was released in 2003. It was retired in 2005. The detachable top of the building lights up in the holiday colors of white, red, and green. Inside the building are two large white bulbs along with eight exterior bulbs that light up the top like spotlights. There were four American flags also included with this item.
12 Piece Nativity Set of the Holy Family $900
This particular nativity scene is part of the Our Town Collection by Leo Smith. Mr. Smith began his artwork in 1971, when he found a piece of wood on the banks of the Mississippi River. His pieces of folk art are carefully crafted with attention given to every little detail on each character. The Our Town collection was inspired by Leo Smith’s hometown.
Norman Church $650
The Norman Church was a limited edition, numbered piece released by Dept. 56 in 1986. There were only 3500 churches created for the Dickens Village collection. The church has a bell tower with the windows and trims painted to look like wood. The church is enchanting with a wreath hanging above the door and snow covering parts of the roof.
The Village Mill $500
Also part of the Dickens Village collection is the Village Mill. This Numbered Limited Edition was released in 1985 and was limited to 2500 pieces. The mill displays a large wooden mill, double doors, and a snow covered ground. The stone facade is broken up by small windows and a clean slate roof.
The Flatiron Building $420
Part of the Christmas in the City series, the Flatiron Building was released in 2006 and later retired in 2010. It is beautifully decorated for the holidays with removable wreaths and garland along with snow covering the grounds. The handpainted piece includes hand carved lions heads. The building is lit by two interior bulbs.
Todd & Margo’s House $500-$700
The infamous neighbors of the Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation have their very own Dept. 56 collector’s piece. Introduced in 2014 and part of the Snow Village series, the licensed items included many favorites from the popular holiday movie.