Christmas week. Christmas only days ahead….
I’ve been baking, shopping and wrapping like a wild woman.
My stockings have been hung by the chimney with care in hopes that I’ve been a good girl and Santa will leave me some goodies 😉
Decorating and getting out favorite Christmas decorations is definitely something I enjoy each year. As much as I love adding a new thing here and there with the passing Christmas seasons, it’s the old stuff that’s been around for awhile that really brings me the most joy.
You know how you probably have something that is “Christmas” to you? Maybe it’s a special food or cookie. Maybe it’s a particular decoration or something that’s been hanging around for awhile that when you get it out it evokes memories of years gone by.
That’s cool stuff….things that evoke memories of past Christmas seasons.
This first picture is a little village my grandmother put out every year for as long as I can remember. She would put the Barclay skaters out with the village. ( you can see them in the second picture… the people in this one are definitely more current) That was back in the day when lead figures were made of, well, lead 😉 I would get lost as a child sometimes just sitting and looking at it… that tiny little winter wonderland.
As time went on and my grandmother passed away, my mom got the village. And after several years she moved on to a newer more modern ceramic one ( I never understood). One Christmas I was up in the loft in my moms barn like some large rat rummaging around for some things for her when back in the corner, forgotten, was the tiny village and winter skaters.
I immediately fell into begging mode… “Please, please, please let me have the village!” ( I can beg quite well when I have to 😉
She agreed and then I pressed again… “and the skater people? and the Santa and sled?” she told me to take them all…
I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. After all these years, the village and skater people with the Santa were mine!
I brought them home and carefully opened up the box taking out each tiny house. They were dusty and dirty and in need of some repair… to which I carefully set out to do… that Christmas they were out again with the lights carefully shining through the back of them (they have little holes for lights in the back)
That day began my quest ( and addiction) to learn about these cheap little dimestore houses and winter village scenes. Much to my surprise I learned the set I had grown up with were actually houses at the end of the era of the “cardboard” villages (mid 60’s).
The Barclay lead figurines were from the early ’40’s. I also learned my Santa is very rare and quite pursued as he was the only style made like this in 1942.
Often referred to as “putz houses” in older times the village was arranged around and under the tree creating often spectacular and unique displays.
As my digging and research broadened I learned these houses had shown up on the scene sometime in the late 1920’s. The most spectacular, beautiful ones were made during that time through about the mid 40’s. Many of these were huge with exquisite details ( and were on ebay selling for crazy amounts of money which quickly left me out of the pursuit of many) and yes, I got the bug.
Once I started seeing some of the unique, and beautifully detailed pieces it was hard to not jump in and gather my own “collection”.
This is the picture below.
The “youngest” piece is the big white church in the center…it’s about my age haha… It was in horrible shape when I bought it. Someone had put hot pink and bright blue tissue paper in for windows… it had no fence…it was dirty… and I restored it to what it looks like now. The peach church to the left I bought for 9.00 … the windows had been chewed out by mice..it had no steeple… or windows.. the cotton was not on the roof… it was dirty.. but it was so unique I wanted it.( and my family shamelessly laughed at me for buying it) It had an actual little light in the bottom you could turn on. I bought it and carefully restored it… it is the piece I’m most proud of giving new life to. Even serious collectors I sent pics to were amazed at how it was restored.
I think my favorite pieces to find are the “cotton topped” houses, but especially the churches. These seem to have had a time span of only the early 40’s.
All of the houses in the second picture range in age from youngest of 55 to about 85 years old. The small house in forefront with lots of really tiny windows I believe is circa late 1920’s making it the oldest. Houses with the figurines of Santa and the Priest were made during the early 30’s and are most coveted by collectors today.
Given that these were cheap cardboard little pieces that sold for 5-10 cents during their brief time in history I find it totally amazing they are still around all these years later. I wonder about where they’ve been and what history they’ve been a part of. Todays villages are pretty but totally pale in comparison to me when I see the old antique beauty of these pieces.
In the second picture you can see the winter skaters and Santa and reindeer that were a part of my childhood village.
This is a part of Christmas that delights me in that childlike way.
Tell me… what special thing is it for you that says Christmas ?