18th-Century Carved Ivory & Wood Crèche Figures

Value (2010) | $10,000 Retail$12,000 Retail

They're part of a collection that my wife and I started many years ago. We have about 200 different créches, most of which only get put out at Christmastime. But this is one of our favorites, and it's on display all the time in our house.


We purchased it in Manila, the Philippines, about five years ago, and I don't know very much about it. We were told that it was probably from the 18th century, but the dealer did not know any more than that, and we just liked it so much that we decided to go ahead and buy it.

Well, you were correct; they are from the 18th century. They are amazing quality. The heads and the hands are all carved out of ivory. The Baby Jesus is fully carved all out of ivory also. The eyes are inset glass eyes. The bodies are all carved out of wood, articulated. And it's really quite amazing that they've all stayed together, you know, that all three of them haven't been split up.

Are they likely made by the same person?

Yes, but putting a name actually on who made them is very difficult.


They're definitely continental. I would say Italian or possibly French. The carving in the beard of the Joseph here is just beautiful. The Virgin Mary probably would have kneeled with that peg in her leg there. Originally, they probably would have had some really fine silk clothes on them, which have rotted away by now, and a lot of times had beautiful metallic lace with the silk. Do you have any idea what the value is on these?

No idea at all. When we went to buy them, the dealer was asking about $900, and we negotiated for about four hours, and we paid a little less than $400 for them.

On the retail market, I would value these at $10,000 to $12,000.

Oh, my Lord. Wow.

They are really remarkable, beautiful. Actually the best I've seen. Really amazing.

Oh, it's... it's hard to believe. What did you say, $10,000 to $12,000?


Wow. (both chuckling)

Appraisal Details

Milwaukee, WI
Appraised value (2010)
$10,000 Retail$12,000 Retail
San Diego, CA (June 12, 2010)

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