Emmett Kelly Jr., one of the 20th century’s most famous clowns, continued to portray the famous hobo character “Weary Willie,” which was invented by his father, Emmett Kelly Sr. Kelly Jr. became somewhat of a mainstream celebrity, made appearances at the White House and starred in films and TV shows. Porcelain figurines based on the “Weary Willie” character have been a favorite with collectors since the 1970s. Theses figurines depict the clown character in a variety of occupations and poses from teacher to golfer to pharmacist.
Examine your clown figurine. Gather the original paperwork, including the certificate of authenticity. Check the porcelain for cracks, chips or discoloration. Make note of any stamps or lettering on the bottom of the figure, as this may indicate if the figurine was a limited edition.
Look up the value in a collectible price guide. Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, Warman's Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, and Miller's Collectibles Handbook are a few of the better-known yearly guide books. These books are compiled by a knowledgeable editorial staff to ensure the accuracy of listed prices.
Confer with other collectors. Web forums at World Collectors Net or Eclectic Collectibles will put you in touch with fellow figurine collectors who can give you pointers on a figurine’s value. If there are local collectible clubs in your city, attend meetings and bring your figurine for inspection by the other members.
Attend an antiques or collectibles show. Ask for an appraisal of your figurine. Cord Shows Ltd. lists collectible shows in the Northeast while Collectible Classifieds lists shows and events in all 50 states. These shows feature a variety of collectible dealers and appraisers, so you can get more than one opinion.
Browse auction and collectible websites and compare prices. Read descriptions carefully. Emmett Kelly figurines are available in several sizes. For example, a Flambro dentist figurine will come in different poses and sizes even though the caption description is the same. Look at the image accompanying the listing and scroll down through the entire description to ensure the posted figurine is the same one you own. Write down the listed prices and then compute the average price to determine the current market value.
Check the authenticity of signed figurines. Emmett Kelly Jr. autographed many figurines during his life. However, some forged signatures have been discovered over the years. Contact the Emmett Kelly Jr. Society or an autograph expert to validate the signature. A signed figurine will increase the sculpture’s value.
Marianne Moro is a copywriter and journalist based in Hollywood. She has been writing professionally since 1999, specializing in home remodeling, interior decorating, pets, travel and holistic health. Moro was a part-time editor and contributing writer for Remodeleze.com, a home remodeling and decorating website, and has also contributed to the Cutting Chair and Entertainment Today.