Twenty-five years ago an artist named Sam Butcher was approached by the president and CEO of Enesco, Eugene Freedman. His drawings were then taken to a Master Sculptor, Yahuhei Fujioka to reproduce them into what we see today as one of the most collectible figurines.
He bagan his career teaching young children about God with his illustrations on a chalkboard. He was also an artist for the International Child Evangelism Fellowship in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In 1974, he began a greeting card business called Jonathan & David, which were his original drawings that were made to comfort friends and relatives. They were of tear-dropped eyed children, which are now seen in all of the Precious Moments products. He called them even then, "Precious Moments". There was an inspirational message that went with each piece.
He has received many awards for his work. Some of which are:
1988 - Special Recognition Award from the National Association of Limited Edition Dealers (NALED).
1992 and 1996 - He was named "Artist of the Year" by NALED.
Today, each drawing is sent to Japan for a team of artisans to reproduce into a plaster mold. Each figurine is hand assembled, fired, handpainted, and then fired again to achieve just the right quality.
The quality control on each piece is required to meet the highest standard of excellence. It takes anywhere from five to seven days to complete each piece.
The artisans are very highly trained for up to three years. The painters are the most highly skilled, as they are the ones who have to paint the well-known "tear-dropped eyes". It is the hardest and most recognized of the Precious Moments figurines.
Sam Butcher has designed and created a Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri, which was inspired by the Sistine Chapel. The ceiling of the chapel has been painted by Sam Butcher and will never be completed, as he cosiders it his life's work. There are stained glass windows and Precious Moments murals, as well. It was opened in 1989 and is open free to the public. It is well-known by Precious Moments collectors and is visited by the collector's, as well those who admire Sam Butcher's work. As many as one million visitors come to the chapel to see Sam Butcher's life-long work of art.
On the fifteenth anniversary in 1993, there was a total of 800 Precious Moments figurines. They were on display at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. There were some pieces that most collectors had never seen, some retired, and some that would never be reproduced again.
In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Precious Moments Collection, Sam Butcher has designed figurines, ornaments, and a plush bear.
For information and examples of marks and meanings, click here
The Enesco Precious Moments Collection - Produced by the Enesco Corporation
The Greenbook Guide to Precious Moments by Enesco - 1998 Twelfth Edition