Collector’s Corner: Tiki Collectibles

It must be true that things come in threes, because Tiki collectibles should certainly be included in the ranks of the Un-Cute, right alongside Trolls and Cabbage Patch dolls. And like Trolls and Cabbage Patch dolls, Tiki items generate passionate interest in collectors willing to pay top dollar to satisfy their acquisitive instincts.

So, what exactly is Tiki?

Originally used in mythology and sculpture to signify the “Adam” of the Polynesian peoples, the name has become associated with a pop culture movement, founded in 1934 in Hollywood, marked by Tiki’s fearsome visage or other Polynesian motifs. Fueled first by the stories and souvenirs brought home from the South Pacific by World War II servicemen and then by the addition of Hawaii to statehood in 1959, the movement reached its zenith in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Items from that period – postcards, furniture, matchbooks, bowls, etc. – are now much-sought-after collectibles.

Collectors especially favor Tiki mugs, and it’s not unusual for period pieces to fetch several hundred dollars at auction. The resurgence in interest in Tiki has even, in fact, pushed up the prices of recent limited-edition specimens, with mugs by Munktiki, Shag, and Steve Crane often selling for amounts comparable to the older pieces.

Cross-collectibility must also be considered a factor in some cases. No one knows how much a Barbie Guava Gulch Tiki Lounge set may be worth in the future, but Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room has proven its value today. For instance, a vintage 1965 Tiki Room tray bearing the image of a Toucan recently sold online for over $278, while a Tiki Room poster pin garnered a final bid of $52.99.

Not in the market for vintage Tiki? A search of the web will reveal that there are a number of companies willing to satisfy your desire to escape the doldrums (and winter!) with an array of contemporary furnishings including chairs, bars, and huts (with synthetic thatch!). Create a tropical paradise in your backyard or livingroom – you’re limited only by your imagination and your pocketbook.

For more information on Tiki collectibles, the following resources are recommended:


“The Book of Tiki,” By Sven Kirsten

“Tiki Quest,” By Duke Carter


Disneyland-Enchanted Tiki Room
Click “play” to hear the Tiki Room song. Opened in 1963, this was the park’s first attraction to feature audio-animatronics.

Mike’s Tiki Gallery
Over 2300 images with comments on makers’ marks, etc.

Tiki Page
Scholarly discussion (illustrated) on the traditional jade pendants created by the New Zeqaland Maori.

Tiki News Website
Print magazine devoted to traditional and pop Tiki culture.

The Tiki WebRing
Links to all things Tiki.

About the author:
Michele Alice is AuctionBytes-Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ eBay ID: Malice9

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