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Books for a Santa collector, part 1

It's nice to be able to line your bookshelves with Santa-related books, both new and old. For those of us who (like me) only pull out their Santa collections for two months or so of the year, it's a way to be able to "reconnect" with Santa collecting and get your visual Santa fix without dragging out the whole kit. And kaboodle. You know what I mean?

Truth is, most Santa-related books that are really revered by collectors are older books and no longer in print. But that doesn't mean they're not findable - I've tracked down several that you might be interested in.

Santa Dolls & Figurines Price Guide : Antique to Contemporary, Revised Edition
Published in 1994. Back cover reads: "Discover valuable information and prices about numerous Santa collectibles. Images of Santa Claus from around the world and the legends that surround these figures are historically presented. Many fabulous examples of artist Santa figures are also included. A must for every collector of Christmas memorabilia."
Buy from or from eBay

Santa Dolls: A Celebration of Father Christmas Doll Art, Both Antique and Contemporary
Published in 1992. Back cover reads: "Experience old & new Father Christmas dolls crafted in every conceivable & imaginable medium. A sampling of the enormous range of Santa dolls crafted from the past & today by many talented artists. Discover the magic behind the spirit of Santa Claus as each artist shares their story." You can read an excerpt here.
Buy it new or used from

History of Santa Claus Paper Dolls
Published in 1983. Back cover reads: "Immortal saint in history and legend—now a paper doll. Evolution of true Saint Nick to Santa Claus in four dolls, 18 historically accurate costumes. Delightful fun for Christmas, all seasons."
Buy it used from eBay

Dream of Santa: Haddon Sundblom's Advertising Paintings for Christmas, 1932-1964
Published in 1997. This one has been on my personal wish list for years. I absolutely adore Haddon Sunblom's paintings of Santa (he's the man who painted the "Coca-Cola Santa" that we have all grown up with) and this book consistently gets awesome reviews.
Buy it new or used from

Much more in part 2, so stay tuned. :)

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Posted: November 7, 2008 at 7:35 AM

how to sell a Santa collection

If there's one question I get asked more than any other, it's how or where to sell a Santa collection. Sometimes the question comes from the owners - they no longer are interested in collecting, or they have no space left, or they're moving to a smaller place. Often, though, the question comes from loved ones who either due to death or illness are charged with finding a new home for a collection of Santas.


The truth is, I'm not sure. While I'm still quite young, I do think about what would happen to my collection and what instructions to put about it in my will. But I did a little preliminary scouting around and found these resources that might help:

11 Ways to Sell Your Collection
How Collectors Can Market and Sell Their Collections Online
What Happens to Your Collection if You Drop Dead. . . . unexpectedly?
How to sell a prized collection
How to sell your doll collection

I'm going to read through these myself, and see if I can't come up with a better set of answers. I'd love to hear from you on this topic - if you're a buyer/appraiser/dealer, how best to get your attention or help? If you're a collector, or a family member... would you be interested in a Santa collectors auction/trade/classifieds area of this site, where you could go to look either for new collectibles or to sell your existing pieces?

Let me know what you think. :)

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Posted: September 8, 2008 at 10:36 AM

it's all about the face

I am a picky Santa collector, and I imagine that most other collectors would agree they are as well. An otherwise stunningly made Santa can very easily be discounted because of one thing: the face.

For me, the face is 50% of the entire equation. If I hate the face, I'll never buy the jolly old elf.

One of my personal pet peeves is handcrafted clay faces. I know these are a popular item with a lot of collectors, but I find a lot of the resulting faces are scary or wrinkly or old-apple-pie-like, and it creeps me out the same way that wax figurines do.

For me, the penultimate Santa face is Haddon Sundblom's Santa. (Non-Santa fanatics know this as "the Coca Cola Santa".) And yes, I know it's traditionalist and mainstream but for better or worse, that's the Santa Claus I picture in my head.

It's one of the reasons I love Tom Browning's work. He captures the warmth and the spirit so perfectly. If I had an enormous home, I'd fill every room with his paintings.

Other Santa faces I enjoy are the ones by Dennis Brown, the faces that Fitz & Floyd use in their Santas and the longer faces of Bill Evans.

I have very few or no elf-like faces, apple pie faces, mean faces, wizard faces or grizzled faces, since to me they're all just wrong.

A critical component of the face is the beard. For cloth dolls, I don't care if the beard is fabric or of the same material (clay or ceramic) as the face, but please please please make it look like a real beard and not like Santa cut off a little girl's hair and stuck it to his face, all blond ringlets. It should look clean and not unkempt, of decent length rather than flowing to his waist (if I wanted to buy old man winter or a wizard I wouldn't buy one in a Santa suit, thank you).

As in life, we respond to the faces we're attracted to. When I walk past my Santa collection every day from November 15th to the New Year, I want to be able to smile and get a little lift from all the faces beaming back at me.

Like I said, it's all about the face.

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Posted: October 9, 2004 at 7:37 PM

disco santa

You know, one day when I have a bit of time I'll write a nice long post about "right" Santas and "wrong" Santas. It's different for every collector, and everyone has their own opinions.

But for now, I'll say that there are very good reasons why I've never really liked the Possible Dreams Santas.

Because this is just so wrong.

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Posted: July 15, 2004 at 9:58 AM

we do not sell anything here

Amusingly, while browsing Froogle for sites that sold Gregorian Santas, I found this very site in the second page of listings:


Just for the record, folks, if you've come here via other means... I don't sell anything here, just drool over what other people sell. :)

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Posted: September 13, 2003 at 12:47 PM

history of Santa Claus

Browsing around recently for cool Santa sites, found a sub-site on the History Channel web site, all about the history of Santa Claus. One of the better done sites you'll find on the topic.

I can't find it on their site, but A&E did a fabulous Biography episode on Santa Claus a few years back. I taped it from TV (since I can't seem to find it online or in stores) and watch it every Christmas.

I share a birthday with Saint Nicholas, you know. Explains a lot, don't you think?

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Posted: September 12, 2003 at 11:43 AM

make your own

I still toy with the idea of making my own cloth santa at some point. I still don't know how to sew very well, but I could practice. Could be fun. But one thing I'd almost definitely want to do is find a good bisque Santa head, preferably with beard in bisque (for some reason, I find those more attractive than inches of yarn as a beard). That way I could concentrate on making clothes and a hat and some other accoutrements.

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Posted: August 26, 2003 at 6:43 AM

reasons to believe

Reasons to Believe have launched their new web site, and it's got so many more Santa goodies I hardly know where to start. Well, that's not exactly true. Dennis Brown makes Santa sculptures so beautiful it makes me ache, and his Check'n it Twice is something I would die to buy if I had the money. I do have one, a signature reproduction called Santa in Toyland, and it was one of the best buys I ever made.

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Posted: July 25, 2003 at 10:21 AM

twas six months before Christmas

My mom was always a Christmas nut. Somewhere along the way, she infected me as well. And it grew into a big, big love of the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus. I suppose I've been collecting for ten years or so, but only seriously for the last few years.

What kind of a collector am I? Not the kind that is in it for the money, that's for sure. I don't care how much it costs - $5, $500 - as long as it looks cute and would fit well within my collection, I want it.

This site is a way to keep track of what I have, what I want, and other new finds I come across along the way.

And to all, a very good night... :)

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Posted: July 25, 2003 at 8:57 AM