Monday, November 2, 2015

Thrifty Acres: Santa Patrol

Hello! I collect Santa figures, so I'm on the lookout for them year-round. I generally buy only those that are vintage and/or handmade. 

Within the past couple of weeks I have added four Santas, paying a grand total of $3.75 for all.

First up:

This wooden St. Nick is 7 1/2" tall and was a quarter at a church rummage sale. It appears to be hand-carved and hand-painted, though  I don't know that for sure. Still, for a quarter it was worth the price. 

From the same rummage sale and also a quarter:

This is one of those toys that you push up from the bottom to make it move. Doing so with this Santa makes his jingle bell jangle. Super cute!

As you can see, the original label is on the base, and identifies the toy as having been made in Hong Kong for the Kohner Brothers company of East Paterson, NJ. With that info, I looked on eBay and thus estimated that this Santa was likely made in the 1960's. 

From that toy, which is 4 3/4" high, to this tiny Scandi Santa:

Even counting the yarn plume, it's only 2 1/4" tall. I picked it up for a quarter at a garage sale in Galena, IL. It's labeled on the bottom as being made in Sweden, so he'll go on display with my collection of Scandinavian Christmas decor. Someone had also written the year "1970" on the bottom, presumably the year it had purchased. So it's vintage to boot! Not bad for a quarter. 

Since I'd said I paid a total of $3.75 for my four Santas, obviously I forked over more than a quarter for the last purchase:

Yes, I paid three whole dollars for this: 

The above figure stands at about 16" tall and was spied at a local thrift store. Surrounded by Christmas decorations of much lesser quality, I was amazed that he hadn't been snatched up already. This is definitely handmade, and of very high quality as well. 

Close-up of the face:

And Santa's sack:

The clerk at the counter was befuddled; she said she didn't know what sort of figure it was supposed to be. I told her that Santas are portrayed in many different ways now and suggested it was a Woodland Santa. She wasn't convinced, but that's what I'm calling it. 

Woodland Santa's body is a log, and his arms are wooden as well. Wool, osnaburg, burlap, fake fur, doll's hair and twine were used for his clothing and sack. The sack holds twigs and a sprig of artificial pine. The Santa holds the sack in one hand and a long stick in the other hand. 

These may sound like mundane materials, but this is a very well-made piece. So well made, in fact, that I wouldn't be surprised if it had originally been purchased at a craft show or artisan's gallery. 

These suspicions were heightened when I examined the figure more closely once I got home. On one side of the log body someone had hand written a name (likely the artist), the date '89' and a copyright symbol. Unfortunately the name was written as only the initial of the first name, followed by a common surname. So I couldn't find out anything about the artist. 

Regardless, this is such a nice Santa it almost seemed like a crime to pay only $3.00 for it. Of course I was glad it was so reasonably priced. It's an ongoing mystery to me why thrift stores will charge 99c for a dollar store doodad, but will put low prices on handcrafted items that took hours to create. 

Christmas is still more than a month away, but with these recent purchases, I may be able to suspend my Santa patrol - that is to say, I probably have enough in my collection by now. But if another vintage St. Nick or craft show refugee appears in a thrift store or rummage sale, the allure may be too great to resist! 


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