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Collectibles through the Decades

Every era has its statement-making collectible for the home—be it a tabletop accessory, children's toy, or hottest gadget. In our December 2019 issue, we looked back on the history of holiday villages and how they're being reinvented today. Take a look through our vintage ads and articles highlighting some of our favorite collectibles from each decade.

1930s: Betty Boop

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Popularized by the 1930s cartoon Dizzy Dishes, this flapper girl-meets-Hollywood starlet is known for her large baby face and miniature caricature body. She quickly became one of the most widely recognized cartoon characters across the world, featured in comics, toys, and later in films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

1940s: Anything Walt Disney

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We visited Walt Disney at his home in this 1940s feature, in response to the growing interest in cartoons like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pinocchio. Icons from the films began to crop up in kids toys, clothing, and figurines that are still popular today.

1950s: Baseball cards

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This golden age of baseball card collecting started to boom when card producers Bowman and Topps began releasing large sets. To date, the 1952 Topps set is the most sought-after post-World War set among collectors because of the scarcity of the Mickey Mantle rookie card, the first Mantle card issued by Topps. The rivalry between the two producers led to bidding wars over customers and spurred the industry into the modern era.

1960s: Depression Glassware

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These sets were commonplace in the 1920s and '30s, manufactured inexpensively in reaction to WWI. They were often given out for free in movie theatres and with food purchases. They became repopularized in the 1960s as a collectible, infusing homes with a bit of nostalgia and lots of color.

1970s: LPs and vinyl records

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Interest in stereo LPs grew steadily during the early 1960s, eventually leading to the introduction of quadraphonic vinyl records, which arrived on the market in 1972. A reduced thickness in the records, for cost-cutting purposes, led to mass-market manufacturing, popularizing the format through the 70s until cassettes took over in the 80s. Today, vinyls are seeing a resurgence in popularity both for their atmosphere and cover art—an attraction of the art form then and now.

1980s: Cabbage Patch Kids

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These soft sculptured dolls skyrocketed in popularity when they went into mass production in 1982. By 1984, sales for Cabbage Patch Kids branded products, including toys and children's apparel, came close to $2 billion. Cereals, video games, and even postage stamps have developed from the franchise since, making the dolls one of the most recognizable products in the United States.

1990s: Fiestaware

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First introduced in 1936, this line of ceramic glazed dinnerware became popularized by its concentric circles and bright, solid colors. After a hiatus in production from 1973 to 1985, it was re-introduced as a more durable, affordable product. Limited-edition colors were released every two years, quickly making the dishes a collector's item where dishes were traded for hundred of dollars.

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