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*
- 2004 -
This very tall "church?" -"Victorian?" -"grain-elevator?" -at 8 1/2" -not only makes
a great "skyline" addition, there are some most unusual features,too. Dual function
seems to have been intended, here: church and attached parsonage? Grain elevator and
attached parsonage?(Well, I wouldn't put it past them - these Japanese with their
marvelous "BIZZARchitecture.") I don't know where I get this "grain elevator" feeling:
probably from my mid-century childhood in Kansas when they still had some of the old
wooden ones around in the smaller towns. They probably still do. This piece just
brings that memory forth.
It's not uncommon for full-cocos like this to have two doors - but different
kinds of doors? THAT is uncommon to be sure! And when I say
"full coco," I mean "FULL coco!" Even the window mullions are fuzzed over with
it. But look at the window just below the tower; it's coco, but a whole different
color of coco, found nowhere else on the piece! That would have required a whole extra
effort to acheive. Big stairs - little stoop - main church/ pastor's digs. And now for
that potted bush. It calls to mind a popular German series in which hardwood painted
bases held tiny feather trees or emulated holly bushes with thick grape-like bunches of
red plaster berries. But this is carboard, luffah, and coconut! Japanese
absolutely - and am actually beginning to believe it's original to this great piece.
And I have never seen one of these before!
"Martha Stewart House"
Antoinette Stockenberg Collection. Another is known to be in the
Among the Great Lost Tribe of the Old Houses there are the occasional real
oddballs. Tom Hull has given refuge to these. He believes the larger, blue
to be a fort," or perhaps it is the runt-of-the-litter/ugly duckling of
cardboard castles. Those unequal diameter gold-painted sections of cane are supposed to
be cannons. Remarkably, the original 48-states flag is still there..."through the
rocket's red glare ..." Tom thought perhaps it was part of a cheap little playset,
but I don't know; it does have accents of snow around the base. You can't really call
it beautiful, but you must admit it's unusual! And like the runt from any litter, Tom
says it's growing on him and is becoming his favorite.
As for the "quanset" loggies - what can I say? They look like a cross between a
frontier dwelling and a roll-top desk. Tom says the holes in the roof show no evidence
of missing chimneys - thinks they are heat vents - but, the holes in back are not large
enough to accomodate the C-6 Christmas lights of those times. Hmmm ... The front
doors are the early "PWD-2" type, so they're old.
Not to disappoint, I am also featuring this magnificent coconut from the
Tucson Collection. I love the sprawling, multi-sectioned archtecture and the unusual
light chartreuse color. This is a fairly large one, too - and would look even bigger
without an oversized Santa out front to diminish the illusion. This is the very
common "slumped Santa," and I wonder if he hasn't gone slightly hunchbacked trying to
climb into all these tiny houses ....
I think the light green of Spring is especially appropriate right
Compare this house to the green one above. Note that they are virtually the same
structure in mirror image, despite the color and fence style. This occurs in just a
few cases and is known as Twins!
- Antoinette Stockenberg Collection
Think SPRING !!!
A fine example of the early ('30-'31) houses with the special balcony and entrance
structures, and the key slotted, curved fence and balcony railing. Two doors.
Handpianted girl on the balconey -in full coco and brilliant colors. Exceptional
It's the special structures and details that make these so endearing. That porch
roof is singular and special, as is the long, wrap-around balconey railing with it's
yellow accent color, which lights up the whole piece wonderfully. The condition is
A fine large "coconut" of very classic design, with the very interesting
4-component roof, doghouse and early '30s slit windows. It has a terrific
porch/balconey feature, and what I find unusual is the way this masks the fact that
the dormer facings extend downward as continuations of the main front wall. It
cleverly makes very interesting what might otherwise be too bland of an expanse.
A very fine large coconut with fine architectural details. Rafia fence,
slit windows, delicious orange and blue combination. Note especially the front steps.
Santa will have to go up one toe at a time!
- From the Tucson Collection
This is one of those exquisite little "GREENSPOTS" that sometimes have colored
glass beads embedded in the wall texture. This one obviously does not, but with the
especially interesting architectural features, they do form a definite family group.
Only about 4 3/4" by 3 3/4," this smaller, but very intricate sub-family of the
"GREENSPOTS" pack a large amount of of individual, yet related charm in every
The Tucson Collection.
This is another, slightly smaller version of the elborate, car-porticoed
Super-Lakkie shown in the "1930's" section. I reiterate that I
believe these to have been made by the Japanese for year-round sale as economical
alternatives to the very expensive glossy, sheet metal buildings and accessories the
train manufacturers were offering during this period of time.
The detail more than rivals that of the metal counterparts, and the sheer number of
parts that had to be glued on makes it hard to imagine making them that much
cheaper than the metal, but of course the tooling would have been.
... from the Tucson Collection.
This is a fairly interesting, fairly large "hacienda" - but not that large,
nor that interesting. What's really unusual, here, is that it's a partial
"coconut." Haciendas are almost always bald. Just a fine-sand "stucco" finish. Must
be one of the first of the Haciendas - definitely transitional.
From the Tucson Collection.
I thought this one was perfect for October. I
love these really early "LOGGIES" with all their extra hand tinting in rich
earth colors. The other thing that really says "early" is the "PRINTIE"
chimney. This has to be the "Grandmother's House" to which
From the TUCSON COLLECTION ...
A very fine large coconut, but the big story
here is the DOOR!
The door is a hand-painted,fired bisque casting -like the Santas and other lawn
figures. These are quite rare. Among all the collections I'm aware of, I think
I know of perhaps 6 of these. I chose it partly for the rarity and partly for that door
welcoming us into the warmth and snugness of "home-and-hearth" and the warm Holidays
I decided to go a bit overboard this year with
TWO exceptional houses:
Christmas Coconut Elegance!
This large and elegant 100% coconut
church with green paper-mullioned windows all intact and two trees speaks for itself,
so I'll just show the pictures.
I just love that clerestory roof structure!
7 1/2" by 4 3/4" by 9 1/2" to the top of the metal cross, which is original.
A note must be added about the Santa. He looks just like the common "humpback" Santa,
but this one is much larger - almost 2 1/8" high, whereas the regular one is
barely 1 1/2". It creates a size illusion, making the church seem smaller in a photo.
Christmas Coconut ECCENTRICITY:
Nobody had ever seen one of these before Tom Hull discovered it on eBay. What a mixture
of things! It's a house. It's a tree. It's part coconut and part sand. It has 4
roofs. It's early. The door is the blue-panelled "PWD-1" of 1928-'32, and it has the
rafia fence of the 1930-'32 period.
It's not a very large thing, only about 5" X 3". The figure is the seldom-seen
hand-painted"BOY," and is WAY outsized- another 2 1/8 incher. Except for those roofs,
there's really not much to it,- but it just might be the only one of it's kind left in
the entire world ....
..... Hull Collection.
Well, that's about it for 2004. My prayers are with you all for the best in 2005!
"God bless us, every one ...."
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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: