Note: This is an archive of "Papa" Ted Althof's online tribute to cardboard Christmas "putz" houses and their history. At Ted's request, this archive was established in early 2012. Except for critical updates and announcements, it will remain exactly as Ted left it in October, 2012.
For more information, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
*House of the Month*
- 2002 -
Let us all pray for a better, safer year than 2001.
This is a fine, full COCO, about medium size. For some reason,
it's one of my top personal favorites. The persctive is not raked, but the small,
slit windows give it the appearance of being a much larger house. And the balcony
and it's other features just add up to terrific.
Papa Ted collection.
Since Easter occurs this month, I thought a church would be
appropriate. This fine, large full COCONUT is a design oft repeated and
closely repeated in many finishes and color schemes, too - but this one is early.
It may be the debut of the design. The rafia fence and darker base are the
prime indicators. Also the forked tree trunk. Should be about 1931-33.
Large apartment, or "high-rise" in full COCONUT. There
have been variations of the apartment complex style building down through all
the decades of the cardboard house, but this may well be the first. This is
1932 - give or take a year - by the rafia fence/hedge -wooden posts - full coconut,
berry-on-luffah (even though the berry is at half-mast. I never saw that before,
either.) It's big, too: 7 5/8" by 4 3/4" by 5 1/2" high. It has 18 windows,
unusual in that they are paper framed, but the frames are covered with the pink
coco-floss. One must,therefore, conclude that paper window frames were glued
in place - then the coco-floss applied - then the red cellophane glued behind
them later. It's the one-and-only case of this sort I have ever encountered.
I makes me feel that this piece came from a time when experimentation was still
going strong in the direction of making these things better, rather than cheaper.
It's a feeling I have about the early coconut period that the Japanese were
seeking our delight and approval - perhaps unsure that Americans would go for
these trivial things - (I know it couldn't have made much sense to them. whose
lives = 1 bowl of rice at end of day. ) - and putting as much into these early
elaborates as they possibly could. It's part what makes this brief vintage so
wonderful. Just a couple of years later - after they had us hooked - the cheapening
It's unusual that we have windows on one end, but not the other. And no coco
on the blank end. And note the size of that hole! 2 3/8" diameter! No telltale
evidence of a closure hatch or hole plug, so I put it on the upside of 1932.
Very Large and ornate COCONUT: Please forgive the photography. I
didn't take these pictures. I had to capture them from an EBAY auction.
I didn't capture the house, either. It seems that house-hunters on eBay are
"cuckoo for coconuts," this one piece having gone for what I think is the record
to date: $261! All other categories can be had much cheaper, even though an
item may be extremely unusual and rare. Why the Japanese faded away from this
style was probably an economic decision, but the "coconuts" have proven to be
the best investment overall - with "hindsight" being 20-20. But in the Woolworth's
mentality of 1930-'32 - who had a clue that these would be set out next year,
let alone fought over for whatever price by persons yet unborn? While I regret
not getting this beauty, I am comforted by the fact that someone who paid $261
for it isn't going to leave it outside in the rain....It's going to wear on
him. He will apportion much of his conscious energies to it's safety and preservation,
LARGE CATHEDRAL or MISSION: There are four or five of these 14"
high central cathedrals in several color schemes. They all have the little bisque
"padre" figure, but come in several colors and styles. This one one is a "Cotton-Topper,"
which I had tentatively assigned to the early postwar era, but now am not so
sure. A website friend send a picture of this one from his own putz. I hadn't
seen this exact variation. Very nice. Could be 1938 to 1948. WHO KNOWS? But
a perfect centerpiece for any putz, all the same...
NEW CLOCK HOUSE FOUND?
CLOCK WINDOW just recently turned up
in an eBay auction. There was some dispute of it's authenticity and a lot of
debate among collectors, but I am inclined to accept it as legit. It's an early
hybrid HACIENDA ,mixture with coco and other textures and a pre-hacienda
base - a real mongrel - but the building face is Hacienda, and anyone
who's ever tried to modify or even just repair a Hacienda knows how difficult
it is to get away with anything and not have it show. The light stucco finish
and watercolor wash techniques employed give them a very delicate complexion.
Cutting a hole that size after the painting would have taken a special die punch
and would surely have left chipped stucco around the edges. So, now we know
of 4 varieties of "Clock House." But note the clock itself. This is not
the same Merry Christmas Clock we see in the others. It is smaller, does
not say "Merry Christmas" and reads about 15 to 12 and not the oddball time
of '3:38' that the better known clock shows.
Charming Beaded Pair
The stucco finish sprinkled with glass indian beads is a special little family
of it's own. While not found in the larger sizes - mainly medium to medium small,
they can be utterly charming with balconies and porches that put them in a very
special place.(See also: OCTOBER,2001) This little brother-sister
pair could not be separated over 60 years of time.
Red Coco Victorian Tower House or Church:
Another nice item from the charming putz of June, 2002, this looks
as if it could be from the same set as the red clock tower of December,
2001. The fences need repair and it's probably missing a tree, but the
house itself is in remarkable condition.
These are from the collection of Antoinette Stockenberg
who quite successfully writes romance novels, just so that she can collect these
really exceptional Christmas houses. This church is a fine example of what you
"coconuts" are missing. This is a "partial" coco with sandy stucco sides and
coco roofs, and a fine little church in wonderful condition. Lovely prewar color
richness ( that marvelous early '30s royal blue!) Contrasting textures. Wonderful
raked persepective. "Padre" standing forth against all Christmas evils. You
can snuggle down and just be safe and warm ....An excellent early piece, rich
in that inimitable pre-War Christmas artistry. *** How could your Christmas
possibly have any meaning without this lovely church?
LARGE "COCONUT," Ca 1932:
It's big and it's gorgeous! 7 1/4" wide, 4 3/8" deep, and 6" high. How these
things manage to survive 70 years or more is such marvelous condition is rather
a miracle, I think. The "coconut" floss is thick and full and rich in color,
but more than that, the "gingerbread" detal around the roof, eaves and balconey
is exceptionally lavish. A feature ne'er seen before is the window or door above
the balconey: it's not a shine-through window, but rather a surface "stick-on"
- reminiscent of those applied to the candy/surprise-boxes and ornament-size
miniatures. And further, it is one we've never seen before - very simple orange
(From the TUCSON Collection)
LARGE EARLY COCO, Ca. 1930-31:
The owner calls this one her "Riviera Hotel." It's large (7 1/8" by 4 1/4" by
5 1/2" high) and seems even more so because of those wonderful, early slot style
widows (over 20 of them, here!) which impart the illusion of a much larger structure.
Generally speaking, when you see these, you have something from the very earliest
of styles before you. And there are other things about this piece that make
it an absolute standout. The "grand staircase," for example, coming down from
either side of the door rather than straight out as is most usual. The very
high balconey. The dual trees - shorter than building. And look at the Santa!
Though rather destroying the illusion of immensity all the other details strive
so well to impart, he is nonetheless original and of an early highly detailed
type that is very very rare. This one had to be our Christmas Star for
(TUCSON COLLECTION again ...)
page | house
of the month | 2000
For information about this site, please contact us at:
Copyright 2000-2012 Theodore H. Althof,Jr.Except where noted, the contents of this website and all it's pages and submissions therein contained are the intellectual property of Theodore H.Althof,Jr. All rights are reserved. (Background musical selections are,of course, excepted.)
Note: This archive was set up at Ted's request in early 2012, and, except for critical updates and
announcements, will remain exactly as Ted left it in October, 2012.
The archive is kept online with the help of volunteers from: