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Planning Retirement Online

Family Treasures - Edition 23 
November 2005

Miller's Price Guide 

Purchase Miller's Price Guide 2004/2005

Family Treasures 23

Jill Churchill, who writes on antiques and collectables for YOURS magazine, continues her series on antiques and collectables.      




Some may be 60 years old, some born yesterday - whatever, you’d be hopping mad if you threw one of these rabbits away!
The first family of Bunnykins - Farmer, Mother, Mary, Freddie, Billie and Reggie - began as drawings that a young nun made to amuse the schoolchildren in her care.



Her name was Barbara Vernon and she just happened to be the daughter of the managing director of Royal Doulton.


At first - about 1935 - the Bunnykins characters appeared on nursery ware; then in 1939 they took on a 3-D life of their own, modelled as colourfully-dressed figures.



Today any piece from the ‘30s is a car-boot dream: a cracked rabbit-shaped egg cup from 1938 has sold for ?1,500 and figurines from that original ‘family’ (modelled by Charles Noke and very rare) can fetch between ?850 and ?1800.

Life after retirement

The Bunnykins family went into retirement from 1939 until their relaunch in 1972, and although these later ones won’t fetch such hefty sums, they’ll still make you anything from a pleasant ?40 to ?400, and maybe more.

With collectors in mind, Royal Doulton decided in the 1980s to move away from the nursery and concentrate on ‘themed’ Bunnykins; since then the little figures have proliferated like - well, like rabbits. They vary tremendously in value: a 1983 ‘Happy Birthday’ Bunnykins is now listed at about ?25 while a 1984 Olympic Bunnykins is around ?150; a 1987 Schoolmaster may fetch ?35 while a Lollipopman ?125.

It all depends on how many were made and whether they have been discontinued:
so far, the special ‘limited editions’ introduced in the mid 1980s have proved a good investment.

And happily ever after that

The story’s not over yet: a 4-inch high Bowler Bunnykins was ?38 when 1,000 were issued in 1994. At Phillips not long ago the reserve price was ?120 and it finally sold for ?200. Even more spectacular: a 1995 ‘Trick or Treat’ Bunnykins, a witch on a broomstick, has flown from ?350 to ?1,500.

Worth checking out: the standard catalogues (ie price lists), published and updated fairly regularly (ask at libraries and auction houses); and the collector’s clubs (there are two in the UK). Ring Royal Doulton, 01782 292165 for details.

Final happy thought: give a future antique to a new baby: the nursery ware is still made and a brand-new christening mug is just ?10.


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