Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the members of the Fontanini family?
The Fontanini Family Tree

Who are the members of the Simonetti family?
The Simonetti Family Tree

What is the Fontanini Collectors Club?
The Roman, Inc provides the Fontanini Collector's Club dedicated to Nativity and angel collectors! Benefits include an annual Club Exclusive Symbol of Membership gift, a chance to order the annual Club Exclusive Membership piece, and a book titled Fontanini Registry and Guide. A quarterly newsletter is also published.

Memberships run for an annual term from date of joining. This author suggests that no matter when a member joined, it is best to renew your membership during the period January 1 to March 1 each year so that you can receive the annual membership kit as soon as it is available, which is usually in March.

Who are the Fontanini Fanatics?
Deb Ehlert and a group of 13 people were meeting on the Christmas Marketplace BB website. In January, 1998, Deb pulled them all together by starting to publish a monthly newsletter titled the Fontanini Fanatics Cyber-News and the rest is history . That's why she is "Madame President" and she well deserves her title too.

What are the COYNE & GCC and Silver Dollar City exclusive pieces?
This is explained by COYNE & GCC exclusive pieces by Ron Carnicom.

What are the abbreviations that are used by Fontanini collectors on chat and in Email?
There is a comprehensive list of Abbreviations used by Fontanini Collectors

What are the names used for Fontanini pieces?
Jeff Schmitt has posted the Name Policy used by this website.

What are the markings found on Fontanini pieces?
Jeff Schmitt has posted the Fontanini Marks on Plastic Pieces which explain his new theory of the previously unknown ITALY-mark as well as the more widely known Spider-mark and Fountain-mark.

How can I find the special pieces that I am having trouble finding?
The Fontanini Fanatics Wish List is edited by Cindy Barnes. Give her an email and the pieces you are looking for will appear on the next issue. When other Fontanini Fanatics find pieces in a store that they do not need themselves, they often email the people from the Wish List to let them know of their find.

What does the word "Depose" mean?
Depose is a term used in Europe for many years that means 'registered maker' for the particular country of origin of item - you will see it used most often by France, England, and Italy but also shows up occassionally for other countries on eBay! This is very similar to our copyright - so it is signifying not only 'made in' but also' copyrighted' European style! (Bonnie Jean in FL)

What are "cookies" and how does this website use them?
See the FF Website Guide to Cookies

How do you recognize Fontanini "Knock Offs"?
Item 1, Knock-offs (Knocks-off?)
I have a few hundred Italian Nativity pieces, many, many of which are not Fontanini. These are not knock-offs or copies of Fontanini pieces, but legitimate figures from other manufacturers and artisans. (I do, however, own a Made-in-Taiwan set that is a crudely executed, blatant knock-off of the Fontanini 4" set - yuk! It was still being sold through mail order gift catalogs last year at $39.95.)

Since I'm not a purist, I mix figures with abandon to suit a particular whim or occasion. But, for those wanting only Fontanini in their collections then some caution is in order, especially with online auctions. Know the marks, know the pieces, or know the seller!

Item 2, EBAY
Being a somewhat serious eBay shopper, with thousands of bids and over 500 purchases, I can truthfully say I've never been burned on an auction - but I have learned a few lessons.

  1. Sellers don't always know their merchandise, so if they have left out important information like size and markings, and if you can't tell for sure by just looking, by all means email the seller and ask!
  2. Be leary of an auction title that says Depose unless the description mentions the item is marked DEPOSE ITALY or DEP ITALY with a spider (sometimes "looks like a bug") or a fountain, or Fontanini. See #1.

    "Depose" is marked on many European collectibles (French, German, Swiss, Belgian, as well as Italian), including dolls, watches and ceramics. It just means officially manufactured, like "registered." Yet, a few sellers think it's a manufacturer's name or type of product when it comes to Nativity figures. So, anything made in Italy that resembles polymer resin they call Depose. Beware. See #1

  3. Be leary of auctions that say "this came with Fontanini so must be," or "I was told this is Fontanini," unless the description gives the marks. See #1
  4. Avoid sellers who consistently misname their merchandise despite gentle education and evidence to the contrary. See #1
  5. Figures marked on the bottom with number-slash-number (such as 320/70) are not Fontanini, but I like them anyway. ~
  6. Earlier Fontanini cherubs and most of the small mangers were marked ITALY only. Many authentic versions of Baby Jesus have no mark whatsoever.

If you've decided to collect the REALLY old Fontanini, there is no definitive authority, and you'll just have to learn with the rest of us. That's one of the things we do here -- compare notes. The Fontanini Cousins have promised that research is underway to compile some sort of historic reference, but chances are we'll write the book before they do. (LOL!)

If you're in doubt, just ask and someone here just might be able to answer. If not, you can teach the rest of us with YOUR experience!

But, most of all, HAVE Fun !

(written by Suzia 01-08-2000)

What suggestions are there for new collectors?
I recently received an e-Mail from a new collector asking for suggestions on how to get started. I came up with a few suggestions, which I thought I'd share with all of you:
  1. Collect only those figures you like. Don't be persuaded to buy something just because you think it will appreciate in value. Trends change very quickly and you might find you've invested a lot of money in pieces you can't sell and don't like!
  2. If it gives you pleasure to have complete sets, choose a set which has either recently begun or for which there are not yet too many pieces, e.g. the tour figures (3 total) are a good place to start.
  3. Don't pay big bucks for a discontinued figure until you've watched the market and have a good idea of what's a reasonable price. Prices can double (or drop by half) in a single day!
  4. Unless a figure is very old and desirable, insist on MIB (mint condition w/box & story card).
  5. Sometimes it's useful to collect figures according to a theme. I am currently collecting new and retired figures according to Old Testament stories (e.g. Caleb is OT Abraham, Judith is OT Sarah, etc.) Or another idea is to think in terms of "vignettes." For example, on one or more shopping trips, you could build a vignette around the Inn, getting the building, Thaddeus and Elisabeth, plus any other "extras" or accessories you think might fit the part.
  6. Try to buy at issue price or less, even for discontinued figures. Good sources are your local dealers, the Fontanini BB Swap & Sell, and Jeff's site. Sometimes you can get good deals on e-Bay also, but I find e-Bay is best for hard to find figures.
  7. Be honest in all your transactions. If you trade or sell a figure, and it is not MIB, say so.
  8. Join the Fontanini Collector's Club. This is a real must in order to know what's going on.
  9. Have fun!!!
Does anyone have any other suggestions? By the way, I think I've personally made every mistake at least once (LOL)! Hope this is useful.

(written by Karen R. 'KBReeman' 01-06-2000)

What are spiders, fountains and blobs?
Before figures were protected but after Roman became exclusive importer for Fontanini, it became necessary for Fontanini to obtain a new copyright, patented logo in Italy that would also suffice for US laws because others were pirating their designs -- note the MANY knock-offs or close copies out there. By altering those VERY expensive molds, they could add the fountain and eliminate the spidermark. That is how the blobs came into being. Then slowly they started resculpting everything or issuing newer figures under the new protected logo!

(written by Bonnie Jean in FL 01-06-2000)

Are pieces with a spidermark more valuable than pieces with a blob or a fountain?

What suggestions do the collectors give for creating displays?
See the Display Techniques page.

Why is Simonetti's signature on some pieces and not on others?
The Simonetti imprint on 5" pieces began with figures issued, or resculpted, after 1983. David (1987) may have been the first, but I'm not sure. Generally, those 5" pieces with the carved-look bases will bear the "S" or "Simonetti."

There is another series of figures, called the Signature Collection, measuring 4.5" (11cm). All of these came with a Simonetti imprint. They were sold in burgundy boxes with clear plastic lids and had burgandy-bordered, large story cards.

(written by Suzia 12-31-1999)

Why is the date different on the figures and the box and the card?
Joel, Joshua, Reuben and Judith in the 5" size were first issued in 1968-69 and retired in 1998 and 1999. The dates on your particular pieces reflect the updated mold stamps done in 1983. Until then, the bottoms were marked DEPOSE ITALY with a spider mark only (no Fontanini name, and usually no date).

All picture boxes and story cards were commissioned by Roman, Inc. for the western collectible market. The Roman copyright date of 1990 or later appears on these items and is not related to when a particular figure was issued or resculpted.

Your best resource for comparing 5" figures and dates is the Fontanini Registry and Guide which was issued in collector's kits. The R&G's are also available from some dealers for about $5.

(written by Suzia 12-31-1999)

We have a beautiful glitter dome that has some sort of hazing or frosting forming at the top of the inside of the dome. I think it is about eight or nine years old. Does anyone know if there is any way to remove this?
OK...this is complicated, so hang on to your hat. First, you have to drain the dome (by carefully removing the tiny little plug in the base) and draining the water into a coffee filter to retain the "glitter".

Next, you need a very small funnel. or you can make one out of aluminum foil by making a cone and inserting one end into the hole. Fill the dome with descaler, this is the product you use in humidifiers to remove the white residue. Let that sit for a while...swishing carefully until the "frost" is gone. Then drain and RINSE WELL...this is the most tedious part, because you have to fill so many times through that little hole.

Once the dome is thoroughly rinsed, fill with distilled water and sprinkle the glitter back into the dome by putting the glitter in the funnel and slowly adding a bit more of the water. Cover the plug opening with a tiny scrap of teflon tape and replace the plug. VOILA !!!

After much frustration and a lot of patience, your glitter dome is looking good as new. And the distilled water should keep it from frosting up again....also, KEEP IT OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT. That seems to cause problems with "fogging" and water loss.

(written by kendra1966 01-10-2000)

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