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Jingle Bells Ringing for Holiday Items

December 24, 1987|RONALD L. SOBLE | Times Staff Writer

Question: Besides collecting ornaments, which you recently wrote about, isn't there a collector's market in other Christmas items as well? For example, I have a collection of Santa dolls going back 50 years.--N.W.

Answer: Christmas collectibles go well beyond ornaments. They range from books and buttons to candle holders and signs to expensive Nativity sets hand-carved many decades ago.

For example, a dealer told us that a Santa Claus wood carving recently sold at a flea market for about $20. The carving was said to have been executed in Pennsylvania a couple of decades ago and could fall into a folk art classification.

The problem is that unless you recognize the artist or style of the carving, it's difficult to identify in terms of origin and, in turn, next to impossible to evaluate in terms of placing a price on the object.

Complicating the issue, according to collectors, are reproductions being passed off as authentic folk art.

On the other hand, Christmas poetry and books and their attendant manuscripts, such as "A Visit From St. Nicholas," a poem published by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823, and "A Christmas Carol," written by Charles Dickens in 1843, can be authenticated by reputable book dealers and command top cash--if you can find them.

A good rule of thumb: If a collectible's price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Ronald L. Soble cannot answer mail personally but will respond in this column to questions of general interest about collectibles. Do not telephone. Write to Your Collectibles, You section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.

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