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 as Ted left it in October, 2012.
For more information, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

Glues to Use:

ELMER'S! - in a word. There are very few repairs you cannot make to cardboard houses with this basic excellent white casein glue. Or a similiar brand. The only other type I have had to use is a strong contact cement to hold our acetate "cellophane" reproduction windows, but for everything else - plain, white casein glue is the ticket.

I haven't gotten into "tacky glue" myself, but Tom uses it. Here's what he has to say:
"The Tacky glue is called "Aileens' Tacky Glue" and it is made specifically for use on paper products. I think scrapbookers use it a lot. It looks a lot like Elmers' however when it dries it dries clear and invisible unlike Elmers and so if a bit gets on the outside it doesn't show or alter the finish. I have tried using their clear gel glue but don't like it as well as the original as it dries glossy and the original doesn't. It is also a little easier to use than the Elmers and sets more quickly when used properly. You are supposed to put the glue on the surface of the joint and stick them together and then pull them apart a bit and let it set up a bit (it should be sort of stringy) and then put it back in place and hold down a bit and it is done. It works better if you don't use it in a cold old basement." Tom Hull

ACETATE DOORS AND WINDOWS below for what to use on our "Cellophane" windows.

* - OUR ACETATES. At the time Kathi and I pioneered these things, we could not find real cellophane anywhere. (It has since become avaliable again.) But our CEL offerings are based on authentic originals to the very most honest recreations we could do from orginals. The acetate base material is about 20 times thicker and 1,000 times more durable and lasting than the Japanese cellophanes or "Visca" or whatever they used. But we hit a small snag in that this very expensive acetate turned out to be impervious to many glues. The best luck I've had so far is in using one of a number of "contact cements." "Duco" and "Elmer's" just pop right off. Thus far, the things that hold are industrial "contact" cements that seem to come in little brown bottles and when you unscrew the caps there is a brush attached - like the old "rubber cements" used to be. But, stick to your toothpicks. This stuff tends be very gummy and stringey. Practice with it a little before you do a serious house job. The bottle I have says; "On-The-Spot" Contact Cement, by the "Super-Glue Corporation of Holtis, New York" I got it in a "Big Lots" store.

Glues NOT to Use:


HISTORICAL INSIGHT: The Japanese used hot animal glue to assemble these houses orginally, because (A.) it was cheap, and (B.) the stuff hardened very quickly as it cooled. They didn't have to wait around for hours while glue dried in the air. When you are making something as magnificent as a large 1932 "coconut" to sell in the USA for 15 cents, and you get maybe a penny for it - you have to be MAJORLY efficient! So, the Japanese used a hot, instant cooling glue reduced from the protein of dead animals and the scrap of slaughter houses. (We used it here, too.) Some aspect of the history of our houses is just plain hideous, but we cannot help that now. The point is - we are not condemned to their neccessity of speed. HOT GLUE is not the thing for gentle restorations. We have the time those poor souls didn't have. We can take our time.

While it might seem that modern hot glue guns would be the obvious equivalent - No! No! No! NO!!
It is so sad to come upon a house that has been gummed together with this stuff! It looks lousy. You can't control it. Trying to get it off does more damage than if the house had been left in pieces. Hot gun glue sticks may have their place,(trash can?) but repairing delicate old Christmas houses is not one of them! The Glue-Gun-Guy is already rich, so he won't feel it if you walk away. Please. Walk away.

There are several brand-names for this kind of stuff. "Duco," foremost in mind. It's any number of glues that come in tubes like toothpaste and exude a clear, viscous liquid with bubbles in it - that give off terribly powerful fumes and do (with great charity) a very marginal job of holding things together. The fumes are toxic and HIGHLY INFLAMMABLE! If I had had access to something like "Elmer's" as a kid - to build my "Comet" stick model airplane kits, they would have held together and flown much better, I am sure. The comic strips of those times had cliche' gags about glues of fantastic power that would stop Katzenjammer Kids, elephants and automobiles in their tracks! They were funny because everybody knew how poor the real glues were. Well, now we have the "Crazy Glue" species of glues that can just about do those things. But when I was a kid - the glues were pretty feeble.
"Duco" and all the other clear "household" goods of that era are just not worth damaging an old Christmas treasure. They never worked well in their day -earned a reputation they never deserved because there was nothing else available, and are clinging to life by the sheer ignorance of their aging base of fading customers. I was always disappointed by Duco. Everything I tried to do with it in the '50s fell apart. I don't mind telling you I was amazed to find that they are still in business. I have a tube here in the house. I've tried it on various things. It has failed all my critera for a reliable cement. Who knows what keeps these things alive?
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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.)

This archive was set up at Ted's request in early 2012, and, except for critical updates and
announcements, will remain as Ted left it in October, 2012.
The archive is kept online with the help of volunteers from the following affiliated sites and resources:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit our collection of resources for collecting, restoring, and making your own cardboard Christmas houses. Return to the OldChristmasTreeLights Welcome page Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Visit Papa Ted Althof's extensive history and collection of putz houses, the largest and most complete such resource on the Internet. Craft and collectibles blog with local news of Croton NY.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Visit the Internet's largest resource on choosing and displaying Christmas trains. Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages.
Learn about backyard railroading with Family Garden Trains
Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
Resources for O gauge and On30 model railroading
- Music -
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable.
The struggles and influences of early Jesus Musicians and others who laid the groundwork for the Christian music and worship that is part of our lives today.