The History Of Precious Moments, Part 4: The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines

The History Of Precious Moments, Part 4:
The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines

The founder of Precious Moments and his business partners made the faithful choice early on to let God run the entire show, and the success they experienced after the public first saw the Original 21 Precious Moments figurines in 1979 was beyond their wildest dreams. In the end, the history of Precious Moments is a truly fascinating tale about the miraculous power of faith, love and friendship in business.

 Precious Moments Figurines: From Giftware To Collectible Treasures

Jonathan & DavidIn the fall of 1978, Sam Butcher, Bill Biel and Gene Freedman introduced the first 21 Figurines to giftware retailers under the company name, Jonathan & David. Although the retailers did not have high hopes for product sales, they took a chance because of the excellent quality and stellar reputations of everyone involved. Believe it or not, these collectible treasures were not initially sold as collectibles, but as ordinary giftware!

When we introduced the Precious Moments collection it was as part of a gift line, not as a collectible…Precious Moments figurines reached collectible status because of the response of the public.  We had to bone up on collectibles and bring people into the organization who had expertise in that field. Actually, the success of the little figurines is the design-the inspired design through Sam’s hands. The message, its sincerity and integrity and the ability of Sam to express his work through these childlike blessings is what makes the Precious Moments collectibles so successful.” – Gene Freedman

Sam Butcher’s Faithful Influence: The Precious Moments Collectors’ Club

In addition to being an active speaker in church, Sam Butcher’s regular appearances as a story-teller and an artist on a well-known TV show made him an unusually impactful speaker.  At an invitation-only gathering of Jonathan & David customers in Atlantic City in 1979, his charismatic way of sharing his faith and his mission moved the talkative crowd into stunned silence.

“When Sam began to speak, a hush spread over the auditorium. During one forty-five minute presentation, he spoke about the Bible and the crowd was spellbound. It was something very new and different. The audience was amazed” –attendee at the 1979 Atlantic City, New Jersey Precious Moments gathering

This winning combination of hard work, friendship, artistry, quality, charisma and most of all, faith resulted in a miraculous success story. In 1981, the first issue of the Precious Moments “Good Newsletter” optimistically predicted that the Precious Moments Collectors Club would be 5000 Members strong within 6 months. But in less than two years after the figurines hit the shelves of gift stores across the nation, there were tens of thousands of members of the Precious Moments Collectors’ Club and by 1994, Precious Moments figurines had become a worldwide collectible phenomenon. No one except God could have predicted this explosive success story.

The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines: That First Piece

From the remarkable friendship between Sam Butcher and Bill Biel, to the fateful first meeting between Gene Freedman and the founders of Jonathan & David, to the serendipitous synergy between Master Sculptor Yasuhei Fujioka and Founding Artist Sam Butcher, it’s hard to find a more telling example of the fact that the goodness and reach of God’s plans are literally beyond our capacity to imagine.

And it all began with that first piece.

Do you remember your first Precious Moments figurine? Were you a lucky birthday girl, or a happy bride?  Did you receive a romantic gift from your husband that still makes you smile? Are you a Member of the Precious Moments Collectors’ Club?  Have you been to the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage Missouri for the annual Family Reunion Event? Or are you just beginning your journey into the loving, caring, and sharing experience that is Precious Moments? Do you smile or get misty -eyed when you think about the first time you saw the exquisite artistry of a Precious Moments figurine?

Well, just imagine how it must have felt to Precious Moments Founding Artist Sam Butcher when he saw the first figurine prototype!

Love One Another - Prototype

Sharing Visions with Heart: Sam Butcher and the Master Sculptor 

Love One Another figurineSam Butcher flew to Japan shortly after he first saw “Love One Another,” one of the Original 21 Precious Moments figurines.

Inspired by a mission to share the gift of love with the world, the talented duo worked for countless hours to perfect the soulful eyes and other signature details of Sam Butcher’s original illustrations. In the end, they captured the childlike innocence and faithful spirits of the adorable Precious Moments children in masterful fashion.

Upon reflection, we can see that any language challenges between the Founding Artist Sam Butcher and Master Sculptor Fujioka San most likely enhanced, rather than detracted from, the beauty of these figurines. This special sharing of love and faith without so many words created a sacred space, where the founder of Precious Moments and the Master Sculptor shared the one language that needs no translation; the language of the heart.

He has looked into my heart and his hands produce what he sees. I have the greatest admiration for Master Fujioka.” –Sam Butcher

The Perfection of Imperfections: The Surprising History of Precious Moments Figurines

God Loveth A Cheerful Giver

God Loveth A Cheerful Giver“God Loveth A Cheerful Giver”, credited as one of the first two authentic Precious Moments Figurines along with “Come Let Us Adore Him”, was inspired by Sam Butcher’s heartfelt love and appreciation for his daughter, Debbie. He was creatively inspired when she brought home a boxful of kittens that were about to be euthanized.

“Daddy, do you have any friends who need a pet? I have some kittens here that I would be glad to give away for free!” – Debbie Butcher, Sam Butcher’s daughter, the inspiration for God Loveth A Cheerful Giver

While her friends were spending their babysitting money on fashionable clothes, Debbie was spending her hard-earned money at the veterinarian’s office. She was always dedicated to saving animals in need or helping out her friends. To illustrate the profound beauty of his daughter’s generous ways, Sam created the adorable figurine, God Loveth A Cheerful Giver.

One precious imperfection on this figurine is an extra s in the sign advertising puppies for sale. “Free Puppiess” is an adorable misspelling; As with so many things in life, this imperfection seems to make the original figurine even more appealing!

Make A Joyful Noise: Honk If You Love Jesus

Make a Joyful NoiseSam Butcher was inspired to create Make a Joyful Noise on a drive down a country road with his business partner Bill Biel. Bill honked the car horn in response to a bumper sticker that said “Honk If You Love Jesus”.

The woman driving the car likely forgot that this bumper sticker was on her car because she gave the men a dirty look and apparently said a few unkind words!

Undeterred, Sam and Bill pointed to the bumper sticker and honked again. That innocent action only elicited more of the same reaction from the woman!

Surely this woman would be mortified if she realized her mistake. As always, though, God had a plan. In a parallel with real life, that awkward incident inspired something beautiful; Make A Joyful Noise has moved people to laughter, tears and prayers for decades.  By the way, the original name proposed for this humorously joyful figurine was Honk If You Love Jesus!

While the original Make A Joyful Noise figurine is only available at the Precious Moments Gift Shoppe, you can buy a phone case that features Sam Butcher’s original illustration for this classic figurine.

The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines: Inspiring Love

Prayer Changes Things

Prayer Changes ThingsPrecious Moments figurines have inspired far more than an appreciative chuckle or a cheerful memory. In fact, some Precious Moments fans have reported that Sam Butcher’s heartfelt messages inspired them to save their marriages!

One young man was walking through a department store with a heavy heart, thinking about his impending divorce. He paused when he noticed Prayer Changes Things, one of the original 21 Precious Moments figurines.  Although the inspirational message about prayer touched his heart, the young man did not make a purchase.

After he returned home, the young man was unable to get the image of that Precious Moments figurine out of his mind.  Eventually, he returned to the store and purchased Prayer Changes Things.  He placed the Precious Moments figurine on his kitchen table, where his wife would see it when she returned home.

When the young man’s wife saw the sweet message about the power of prayer, she picked up the figurine and cried with relief. Deeply moved by this reaction,  the young man began to cry with her. Finally, the young couple embraced and promised to work on their marriage.

Of course, Sam Butcher would credit that miracle to God, not himself.

“Although I don’t know your need – or if you have one- I do know that no cloud is too heavy that it can hide us from the face of He who cares” – Sam Butcher 

Love One Another

Sam Butcher created Love One Another when he was inspired by the sight of his young daughter Tammy and her uncle sitting together on a simple tree stump.

This popular figurine is still in production today!  You can see the love in the soulful eyes of this nostalgic Precious Moments couple, We are reminded that God’s miracles are present in ordinary interactions and everyday activities.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”- John 13:34

The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines: Yes, You Can Still Find Them! 

Just take a moment to contemplate the depth of love and faith that has been shared by these beautiful gifts. Sam Butcher and Master Sculptor Yasuhei Fujioka created the first Precious Moments collection with hearts and minds that had been touched by God in a very special way.

Although 20 of the Original 21 Precious Moments figurines have been retired (Love One Another is still available at PreciousMoments.com), you can still inquire about the possible purchase of any of the Original 21 figurines from the Precious Moments Chapel Gift Shoppe in Carthage, Missouri.

The titles of the Original 21 Precious Moments figurines and their item numbers below:

Original 21 Precious Moments figurines

The Complete List of The Original 21 Precious Moments Figurines

  1. Unto Us, A Child Is Born (E-2013)
  2. Jesus Is Born (E-2012)
  3. His Burden Is Light (E-1380G)
  4. Come Let Us Adore Him (E-2011)
  5. Love Lifted Me (E-1375A)
  6. Jesus Is The Answer (E-1381)
  7. Make A Joyful Noise (E-1374G)
  8. Prayer Changes Things (E-1375B)
  9. He Leadeth Me (E-1377A)
  10. We Have Seen His Star (E-2010)
  11. Jesus Is The Light (E-1373G)
  12. Jesus Loves Me (Boy) (E-1372B)
  13. Jesus Loves Me ( Girl) (E-1372G)
  14. Love One Another (E-1376)
  15. God Understands (E-1379B)
  16. Smile God Loves You (E-1373B)
  17. God Loveth A Cheerful Giver (E-1378)
  18. Love Is Kind (E-1379A)
  19. O, How I Love Jesus (E-1380B)
  20. He Careth For You (E-1377B)
  21. Praise The Lord Anyhow (E-1374B)

In Conclusion: Thank You

In conclusion, we want to say thank you for being with us on our mission to share God’s gift of love with the world. The miraculous history of Precious Moments would simply not exist without you.

“I don’t look at my work as an individual effort, but as a joint expression that reaches out to others. Without God’s help my work would have no meaning. Somehow when one attains success, he soon forgets how he got there. We are not an island unto ourselves.” Sam Butcher

Learn More About The History Of Precious Moments

You’ve just read Part 4 of The History Of Precious Moments. If you’d like to read more about our history, please click on a title below:

Part 1, Sam Butcher’s Faithful Path To A Dream

Part 2, The Founding Of Jonathan And David

Part 3, From Paper To Porcelain

Timmy’s Tower

Thank you so much for reading our posts, and may God bless you in all His miraculous ways.

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2017-11-06T16:14:59+00:00August 9th, 2017|History|
 

39 Comments

  1. Diane Dedmon January 3, 2019 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    I have 50 Precious moments in original boxes except 5 with no box.Most of mine are charter members only and collectors club.I’m attempting to catalogie them all and put them face
    book group devoted to PMS

  2. Krystal December 27, 2018 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I have an ornament I cannot find anywhere. It’s a boy and girl opening a “bucket of gifts” and says “Our First Christmas Together” and below is the year 2008 in candy canes. There is no mark on the bottom, but on the boys heel of his tennis shoe it says “2008 PMI”. It’s very colorful and well painted. Is it a fake?
    Thanks.

    • Precious Moments January 2, 2019 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Krystal,

      We are checking into this for you. Thank you so much for reading our post.

      Precious Moments

  3. Lexi Johnson November 10, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

    In what years did the boxes change from the original white to the black and white J & D boxes to the beige PM boxes?

    • Precious Moments November 13, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

      hi Lexi,

      The boxes probably changed in 1983 or 1984. That’s when the Jonathan and David stamp changed as well. Thanks so much for asking! and Happy Holidays to you and yours

  4. Brian September 7, 2018 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    What year did the name on the figurines change from Jonathan & David to Precious Moments? and why?

  5. Mikell Baize (pronounced same as Michael) July 24, 2018 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    I have a figurine I would like to give to the Butcher family. The physician who delivered Samuel Butcher lived in a retirement complex where I worked. His name was Dr Sam Sugar. He told me that Samuel Butcher was named after him because he brought Samuel into the world. I went to a Hallmark store and bought the Precious Moments Dr Sugar from the Sugar Town series and had the real Dr Sugar sign it for me. This was in 1998. Dr Sugar was in his 80’s or possibly even 90’s.
    I reached out a few years ago and made the offer with no results. I don’t want anything for it. Just want to give it to someone who would enjoy having it.
    Thank you, Mike Maize

    • Precious Moments August 13, 2018 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Thanks Mike, We will pass this message on and get back to you!

      Hope you have a wonderful week

  6. Kathy Hill February 23, 2018 at 10:07 am - Reply

    My name is Kathy Hill,

    I have all of the originals some undated unmarked figures. Have been a charter member from the
    beginning. Would love to sell them. If interested contact me at kathyhill9@acegroup.cc, You could get a
    great price for them. The goose and girl has the nose touching.

  7. Beverly February 22, 2018 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I have one..not the box . excellent condition.50.00

  8. Judy Bookout January 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Looking for Jesus is the Answer!

    • Mary Gustafson February 1, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Hi Judy!

      You can call the Precious Moments Chapel Gift Shoppe to see if they have this figurine at 800-543-7975 and press extension #2. If they don’t have the figurine, you can find out the value at this site:https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, and then visit Ebay or look up some private online sellers.

      Thanks so much for your question!

  9. Judy Bookout January 29, 2018 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I am looking to purchase Jesus Is The Answer. It is a replacement of a gift that was given to me by a dear friend. If you can help, please email meThanks!

    • Beverly February 22, 2018 at 10:02 am - Reply

      I have one..not the box . excellent condition.50.00

  10. Sandy Cooper December 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I am a charter member of the club. My members only pieces have the charter member stamp on them. I have all the original 21, all members only pieces ever offered, and many retired pieces from the earlier years. I have 205+ figurines, all with the original boxes. I’ve recently retired, and am downsizing. I had hoped my son or daughter would inherit them and love them as much as I have. However, they show no interest. I am interested in finding a TRUE precious moments collector to purchase my collection. Serious inquiries only please to sandyc6010@bellsouth.net or text to 904-206-0801. I live in Jacksonville, Florida. I do have a complete inventory list.

    • Dawn M Gostovich February 16, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      I am only missing the statue that the mold broke on – It was the girl with puppies. Other then that, Christmas is quite a long project, It rakes w days doing ornaments and another 3 days doing the Christmas Village (ENTIRE) the train and and additional Nativity. i am in Daytona Beach, Florida and will keep your information handy in case someone mentions starting, missing pieces or completing thier collection. Good Luck bmgdmg@hotmail.com

  11. Kimi Cressey November 22, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing the inspiration for the “Make a Joyful Noise” figurine. Patty and her little sidekick are my favorite figurine! I have many different items related to this figurine and they all hold special memories for me.

    • Mary Gustafson November 22, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

      hi Kimi,

      Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. “Make A Joyful Noise” is really a wonderful example of the humor, faith and fun that we treasure in our “Precious Moments family”. Have a wonderful holiday weekend and thanks again for reading and commenting!

  12. doris ritter November 5, 2017 at 7:38 am - Reply

    I have quite a few pieces and I would like to know how to sell them or any suggestions that may be of help. Thank you for any help that you can give me.

    • Mary Gustafson November 16, 2017 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hi Doris,

      Thanks for reading our blog posts! First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

      Good luck, and we hope you enjoyed our blog post!

  13. June Basil October 27, 2017 at 6:55 am - Reply

    I have LOVE LIFTED ME dated 1977! Must be the very first ones made since the date is before retailers got them.

  14. Julie Doyle October 24, 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    I would also like to know where I could sell my figures?

    • Mary Gustafson November 16, 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Hi Julie!
      Thanks for reading our post>. Here’s some helpful information for you:

      First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

    • Ann phillips December 14, 2017 at 1:46 am - Reply

      Do,you till,have your figurines? Interested my email is annphillips@windstream.net

  15. cathy October 22, 2017 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    I have 8. Would like to sell

    • Mary Gustafson November 16, 2017 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for reading our post. Here’s some helpful information:

      First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

  16. Jane Stukel October 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I have about 60 different Precious Moments. I am down sizing and need to sell if possibe. Any opportunities out there?

    • Mary Gustafson February 23, 2018 at 9:04 am - Reply

      Hi Jane,

      First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

      Good luck!

  17. Danielle Schneekloth October 22, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

    I have several of the 21.

  18. Kathy Kittredge October 22, 2017 at 9:13 am - Reply

    How would I go about possibly selling a couple of my original PMs??

    • Mary Gustafson February 23, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for this question.

      First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

  19. Kendra Menzies September 26, 2017 at 5:52 am - Reply

    I am now retired and can’t keep all of the figurines I collected when younger. I have a few of the original 21 pieces and wondered if there is any forum to sell these?

    • Patti October 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Which ones do you have and how much do you want for them? I have a few but I have two young boys that I would like to give them to so I would like a larger collection of them to split between my two sons.

    • Jennifer October 20, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      I would be interested in purchasing them

    • Norma November 16, 2017 at 6:52 am - Reply

      Please write to me at normadimple@gmail.com 🙂

    • Mary Gustafson November 16, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

      Hi Kendra,

      First, find out the value of each piece. We recommend a site called The Collectibles Database, https://www.collectiblesdatabase.com, you can find the most accurate values for each figurine.

      As for selling them we don’t have anywhere specific for selling your figurines but there are some private collector groups on Facebook otherwise Ebay or a private online sellers are good options.

      Good luck, and congratulations on your retirement!

  20. Josephine DeLuca September 14, 2017 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    I have some of these In total I have about 100 pieces

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