Lilliput Lane Collectibles

Lilliput Lane collectibles were created in 1982, by sculptor David Tate. When he first began producing these little replicas of British vernacular architecture, he had no company name, and no really clear idea of where he was going.

Twenty-five years later, Lilliput Lane is an established line of collectibles marketed worldwide by Enesco. There are innumerable pieces based on both British and American buildings, and a collectors club with over 50,000 members.

Vernacular architecture is building with local materials that can be easily obtained. The style unavoidably creates some truly original buildings and it was this that both inspired David Tate and lent his pieces a very unique look.

Lilliput Lane Afternoon Tea is an example of the latest models: the new Afternoon Tea is based on a building in Redlynch, Wiltshire and is a delightful 19th century style cottage with brick and leaded glass. Even though it was created thirty years later, this piece clearly has the same style and elegance as other Lilliput Lane collectibles created over the years.

Beginning with models such as the valuable Dale House and Coach House, the values of Lilliput Lane items have crept up and up as the years passed. Those very early pieces were produced in small numbers – some had production runs of less than 100.

As well, the first Lilliput Lane collectables of 1982 lacked the Lilliput Lane stamp that all new pieces bear, and a few of them went through renovations and were reproduced several times with minor differences. Some of these old oddities and variations have been known to sell for thousands of dollars on the secondary market.

An older model in the American Landmarks line, also called Lilliput Lane Afternoon Tea, is a large colonial style house with several levels, a covered veranda, and a grand set of stairs leading to the front door. Now one of the retired Lilliput Lane collectibles, it sells for over $1300US and appears on websites aimed at collectors who seek out the rare and valuable. Compared with the approximately $50US price of the newer model, this gives a good idea of the range in Lilliput Lane values and prices.

American Landmarks, while keeping the style of Tate’s Lilliput Lane collectibles are not designed by David Tate and have an artistic quality all their own. They are the work of American artist Ray Day, who teamed up with Tate in 1989. The addition of the American line helped forge the link between the two countries that made the line a success on both sides of the Atlantic, and a winning acquisition for Enesco.

The internet, meanwhile, has made it possible for collectors to research Lilliput Lane values and browse both Tate’s and Day’s works. Collectors have the opportunity to view many of the models, including interesting pairings such as both American and British versions of Lilliput Lane Afternoon Tea.

With 2012 marking the thirtieth anniversary of Lilliput Lane collectibles, the original British home of the line is hosting the annual fair. This will be a chance for keen collectors to meet David Tate and have him autograph a model, and collect special collector souvenirs available nowhere else.

In future years, these items are sure to achieve Lilliput Lane values well above average. The founder of the line hasn’t forgotten British cottage hospitality either – people attending the fair will be given tickets for a spot of Lilliput Lane afternoon tea!


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