Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Antique Christmas Board Game

What better way could there be for a Victorian child to while away the days until Christmas than by playing this board game? The Game of Merry Christmas, or, What Will Santa Claus Bring, was produced by the J.H. Singer Company of New York in 1890.


The beautifully lithographed box cover depicts Santa, clad in a fur trimmed suit and with the stump of a clay pipe clenched in his teeth, about to head down a chimney with a sack full of toys.

Inside, the board features an illustration of Santa about to deliver his gifts below the Christmas tree. A rocking horse is already in place.


The game itself is a simple numbered track. Players roll the die and then move along the board. If they land on a space that is labelled with a gift, that's what they'll be getting for Christmas.

There are some wonderful items listed: a Punch and Judy show, a hobby horse, a doll, and a box of tin soldiers are just a few of the options.


But lest we assume materialism is an exclusive feature of our modern Christmas, note that "a pocket full of money" is one of the gift possibilities.


There are also some present pitfalls to be avoided: I can imagine no one wanted to land on "a box of corn salve," or "some good advice."



I hope Santa brings you just what you want, and no corn salve! May you have space number 114 this year and always. Merry Christmas everyone!




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Antique Diecut & Cotton Batting Santa

Made in Germany circa the 1890s, this large diecut Santa is 18 inches tall and features a cotton batting cloak with gilt paper embellishment.


He has an exceptionally soulful expression on his face:


The Santa came from an elderly woman whose family had hung it each Christmas in their house from the 1890s all the way to 2010. It's incredible that this fragile piece survived so well for so long, and intriguing to imagine all the family Christmases it witnessed over those 120 years!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vintage Chenille Santas

These little chenille Santas were made by the millions in Japan and sold in American dime stores from the 1930s to '50s. Averaging 2.5 inches tall, their little faces are usually made of molded clay, and they each have their own unique character.


Closely related to the chenille Santa is the cotton batting Santa. These are harder to find than the chenilles, probably because of their greater fragility.


When new, these little Santas decorated Christmas trees and gift packages. Now they are highly sought by collectors and their prices have risen accordingly, typically $10-13 each, but occasionally as high as $28 for an early or unusual example. The lucky hunter can sometimes still find them for a few cents at garage sales, so it pays to dig through boxes of vintage Christmas decorations whenever you can.

I keep my stash in this old glass candy container, where they are safely lodged in the chimney.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Candy Containers

Ninety years ago, children were delighted to find candy in their Christmas stockings, just as they are today. But while modern children might see plastic PEZ dispensers peeking out of their stocking tops, children of the 1920s would have found these beautiful glass candy containers nestled within. Once the candy inside was gone, children often saved the containers to use as toys, and so they have been preserved through the years for lucky collectors to discover.


This 4.5 inch container depicts a belsnickel-like Santa in a long coat and hood. It still has its original metal lid capping the bottom opening. When new, it would have been colorfully painted (remnants are visible on the face) but even bare, it's a beautiful thing, full of character. 

This container featuring Santa and a chimney is just under 4 inches tall. Originally the chimney would have been filled with colorful round, pellet-like candies, and capped with a thin metal lid.


They just don't make candy packaging like this anymore!



Monday, December 1, 2014

Antique Santa Claus Postcard

December is here at last, the toy collectors' favorite time of year. This month I'll be featuring a variety of Santa Claus themed items from my collection, including candy containers, decorations, and a rare board game from 1890.

First up is this fabulous postcard, circa 1906. The colorful card depicts a busy Santa listening on the wireless station at the North Pole. Looks like he's receiving lots of orders (I got mine in early.) Note the Northern Lights flickering overhead.