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.

Xmas candolier animation Xmas candolier animation Christmas snow scene animation
candle animation candle animation

candle animation candle animation Christmas holly bar graphic
PUTZES from 2008!


Christmas trees graphic

Antoinette -2008

Christmas village mantel panorama
Again, these are just a teaser - the "tip of the iceberg;" there is SO much more! Visit Antoinette's Home Page for an interactive tour of her new and even more spectacular Mantel Panoramas for this year..including a new "Harbor" putz this time.


Better than ever this year!
Xmas mantle putz
Xmas trees graphic

Diane in Seattle
This is Antoinette's sister.
Christmas village houses
Christmas putz display
Xmas snow village
Christmas houses putz
vintage Christmas putz houses
Made in Japan Christmas village houses
It isn't huge, but it's tasty! Dontcha love the sky effects? Lots of concentrated work and effort, here.
Xmas trees

Barb's Store Window
I've long had a Christmas thing about hardware stores, and Barb Healy has done a window in one.
store window Xmas putz
(From an e-mail to my brother)
"By the way, Jim - "Hoppy" didn't sing. That was Gene Autry who did "Rudolph," "Up on the Housetop," "Here Comes Santa Claus" and all those others we heard nothing else but in those early -50s Christmases in Russell. My God, you couldn't get away from it! Remember those tinny outdoor loudspeakers down on Main Street ? I think the town committee only had 1 78 rpm record of "Rudoplh" to play over their system. I remember gathering up the "reindeer moss" that fell off the town lighting decorations by the bushel? (Real, live lycopodeum - the kind that grows in the deep, dark, damp woods around here. We used to carry it home by the armload and Mom made Christmas crafts out of it. Remember those groups of carollers she used to make? She sold all she could finish! Between her always trying to make a buck on some kind of craft idea - and baking 30 dozen different kinds of Christmas cookies - and all her church duties and activities - what a "multi-tasker" Mom was! Those were the days when styrofoam was new and thought to be a wonderous thing! The days when we had to beg Dad for 3 years to get us a set of bubble lights. The days when that boring old Firestone tire store across from the Dream Theater turned into a wonderland of Lionel and American Flyer trains and Gilbert Erector and Chemistry sets -pyramids of "Radio Flyer" wagons stacked up and bikes and pedal cars and boxed Christmas lighting sets blazing in the window like an "atomic" rainbow- everything all set up and running and SO far beyond our wildest hopes.
Christmas village store window display
Here's the window in daylight.
Christmas window putz
And at night ..
Christmas village houses in store window
Storewindow Christmas houses
Christmas village store window
A string of Lionel #58 lamposts and German twig fence line Santa's path..
Christmas putz store window
Xmas village store window

Unless they've had to replace it for some reason, I know I've still got noseprints bored into that storefront plate glass window from over 50 years ago ."

Xmas trees graphic

Barb's Sister Pat
Is a formidable putzer, too!
Christmas village
miniature houses display
Xmas putz
Christmas glitterhouse display
Need I say more?
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Barb's Other Sister Kathleen
That makes three of them ..
The key item here is that FENCE! It's cast iron and very old. heard the manufacturer's name was "Dent." They were cast iron toy manufacturers from eastern-central Pennsylvania.Ward Kimball of Disney bordered his fabulous collection of turn-of-the 20th Century German trains with it. I have managed to collect about two sets from pieces here and there myself. I once saw a complete boxed set in an antique shop, about 25 years ago. The box was dove-tailed wood with a sliding cover in grooves like a large old-fashioned school chalk box. They wanted $250 and I would have, even though the set had a couple of broken sections - but I didn't have the money! One must be careful with these. That old cast iron is as brittle as ceramic. One daren't twist the sections with any force during assembly or disassembly or drop the pieces onto each other or onto a hard floor. If you are lucky enough to have one of these, treat it like glass!

Christmas tree fences are a subject unto themselves. I have many and have seen many many more, but this was the only cast iron fence I knew of before Barb pointed out to me that the fence in front Pat's putz is also cast iron! That thing is massive - must weigh a ton! Now it seems likely there were quite a few cast iron fences.
Cast iron was the "plastic" of the 1840 to 1940 period.
These may well have been made by factories that also made cast iron toys.
Maybe I'll get into fences later on ...
xmas trees bar graphic

Robby Lucke
Montana! Who'd have thought?
Robby sent me so many pictures I couldn't possibly post them all. He says he has two putzes, but I got no clear overviews to tell me which I'm looking at. He says they are divided into "Luckeville" and "Zortman," where the backward, narrow-minded people live. "Zortman" is mainly LOGGIES, as i understand it.

Christmas house display

I'll start this with a view out his window. That's Lake Flathead out there,supposed to be the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. I'm sure it was named after the friendly Native Americans Lewis and Clarke met, and not the residents of "Zortman."
Nice picture, isn't it?

vintage putz house layout
large Christmas putz
I'm guessing This is "Luckeville," according to Robby. The folks in "Zortman" would not be so enlightened.I can vouch from first-hand experience that there's a lot of work involved in lighting up a putz this way.
Christmas snow village
Xmas mica house village
Christmas glitterhouse putz
Christmas putz
Christmas village
cardboard Christmas houses
Some really choice early early '30s types here ...
putz cardboard dimestore houses

Loggies! Are we in "Zortman" here?

Made in Japan
Robby's got an astounding collection here. Things I've never seen before. One thing that impresses me ever more the deeper I get into this phenomenon is how huge it was - how popular it had to have been. I never would have guessed at the outset. They must have sold these by the billions for so many to have survived WW II and everything that happens to cheap little things. It wasn't proclaimed at the time. Nobody noticed or said so if they did, but there's no doubting these little dimestore houses lit up spirits in the Great Depression to the extent they became - for many people - essential things. I can envision many a humble secretary skipping her 35-cent "Blue Plate Special" lunch at Woolworth's counter to take one home. It seems these things may have been as addictive then as now, except you couldn't admit to it back then.
Christmas trees bar graphic

Susan Reeb
Of Pittsburgh.
Christmas village putz
Susan sent me these in undue humility, having seen the huge collections above.
Miniature Christmas village houses
Some of my most magical putzes have been the smallest, Susan. So often less is more.
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"Papa" Ted

Would you believe - from me, of all people - a putz without one single cardboard house at all? Believe it, but there is a reason ...
Christmas toy train layout
It's the same old train layout I put up 15 years ago - last time I had family here. I never took it down. To tell the truth, I've nowhere else to put it - and it was a handy place to test train repairs. I've never been able to come up with another trackplan that lets me run 3 trains in so small a space.
Christmas trains
It's the same old putz, but i just spent a week unearthing it from dust, polishing the tracks, checking out the electrical, standing trees up that the cats and faint drafts had knocked over. A couple of new things have been added. Everything works. The skaters move on that pond, the first of those ponds made. The cats abduct them.
I've had to replace several...
vintage Tinplate Train display
Looking down on "The Heights," here. That's a 1940s Noma illuminated tree stand at center. I've actually used it, but the dam thing leaks despite Krazy-Glue and everything I've tried. Yes, that's Dept. 56 you see. I love some of their things - "Wong's in ChinaTown" my favorite, I guess. But mainly, the ceramic houses can be washed. You have no idea the damage dust can do in 15 years. You have no idea what sunlight coming in the window can do to the cheap old dimestore Christmas decoration colors.
vintage train setup
This is "Downtown," I guess you would say. Official looking stuff. I made that clock tower back in '70s before I took up the subject of cardboard houses. I had intended to make a whole Elizabethan village, but didn't follow through. The clock is real - a travel alarm clock mechanism. I had hoped I could have it working, but glue got into it. The windows are real pieces of stained glass.
Christmas train village
Focusing on the Clock Tower. It's an historical feature of the "region." You can tell by how they've fenced it in. Those little bushy trees on either side are wired with tiny tiny incandescent light bulbs. You can see them in the dark.
Christmas train putz
At the outer edge of "Downtown." The commuter station. Bobble-head turtles, of course.
Lionel Xmas trains
I don't have a broad-view frontal shot, but here is the centerpiece - a classic Lionel #115 station. I recently discovered that it was modeled after an actual station in Asbury Park, New Jersey - on the old New York and Long Branch Railroad where the famed "Blue Comet" ran. Lionel seems to have taken many prototypes from that road. The original station was bult in 1922 and torn down in 1978. so the Lionels have actually outlived it. It's a great station, but not particularly rare. It was extremely popular and Lionel sold them from the late '20s to the late forties. You can even buy one brand new. Several train companies are making excellent reproductions of this and many of the classic tinplate train items. Lionel, MTH - and, I think, RailKing. Tinplate trains have re-emerged bigger than ever. Still, there's always something about an original ...

I don't know what my dusty old setup proves except that putzes can be durable - so long as you don't leave your cardboard houses sitting out - for 15 years!
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Howard Lamey
sent these -

I was beginning to think no oldies would come in this year, but we've been saved!
old Christmas putz photo
Again in an old photo I we see that some people did twin trees and connected them between with a continuous display.Though many of the objects on the putz are surely older, we can tell this photo was taken postwar because there are bubble lights on the tree. Remember those fold-out accordion tissue paper trees on the mantle? They used to make bells and everything that way - in all conceivable sizes !
vintage xmas photograph vintage xmas photo

This appears to be a different year in the same room. No room for the trees anymore! old Christmas picture old xmas photo

What a panorama! Tree to shining tree. Or wall to wall. The whole - and very large - living room.
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Brian Bloodgood sent this.

vintage Xmas photograph

This is Brian's father John in Iowa in the '50s. I remember that suit and every toy I see!
Brian says he may be able to send more.

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Linda Starek

Linda's Christmas 2008

Christmas village display
Xmas village putz
Linda has incorporated many of Karl Fey's "Dimestore Dwellings" in her putz this year. See how perfectly they blend in!
*KARL FEY - "Dimestore Dwellings"*

village putz
Christmas putz
Christmas village putz
Christmas snow village
Christmas dimestore house collection
Overall, just a fantastic Christmas wonderland! So much care and imagination here.

Christmas trees bar graphic

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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:

Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site for Christmas music, stories, craft resources and much more.
Visit the OldChristmasTreeLights site for the history of Christmas tree lighting, including Bubble Lights and more.
Visit our collection of resources for collecting, restoring, and making your own cardboard Christmas houses.
Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions.
Check out  a very active, quality craft and collectibles blog (with local news of Croton NY).
Resources for making seasonal villages and model railroads for O, S, and On30 model railroading