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.

Graphic by Chris Althof

The Chicago Dates Christmas holly bar graphic

This is a small selection of photos from the large Chicago collection sold on eBay December 2004, in which a collection of upwards of 100 houses from the same estate were sold. Of special interest , here, is that each and every house in that collection was marked on the bottom with the year, and sometimes even the day of aquistion. Space does not permit showing more than one example from each year, but it's enough to give a feeling for the styles of houses available on specific years. It's extremely rare to find such hard, factual information.
1934 Christmas village house 1934 Christmas village house

1934: The only "Coconut."

1935 Christmas village house 1935 Christmas village house

1936 Christmas village house 1936 Christmas village house

1937 Christmas village house 1937 Christmas village house

1938 Christmas village house 1938 Christmas village house

1939 Christmas village house 1939 Christmas village house

Only about 10-15% of this large collection were larger, more complex houses -but here is such a treasure-trove of hard dates from a family who LOVED them! It is also apparent that there was a great amount of variety prior to 1935, but after this year it all seems to go "Hacienda" and what was available remained much more in that same style from year to year.

To me, the whole wonder of this Chicago estate find was the dates, and the obvious way that family had loved and centered and bonded on these houses in a time when they were current. I didn't save them all ; there were just too many, but I managed to pair up one example with it's date from each year. To us house collectors/ Christmas archeologists - a find like that is equivalent to King Tut's Tomb. Now we are certain; now we KNOW!
I wish I knew who they were, that family. I wonder if "Junior" survived WW II. I hope he was too young ....

Here is a photo of the last lot from this same estate. The house on the lower right is an American made prewar piece by the Dolly Toy Company. It's date was 1939.

Chicago collection Christmas village houses

"11 Vintage 1930's CARDBOARD Christmas Houses Set#7 I recently auctioned off about 8 sets of these Christmas houses and I thought that that was all that I had--but I found one more set when I was sorting the rest of the buy from a Chicago Estate. All the sets were purchased from a Chicago area estate. The lady who owned them told us that her husband had many sets of trains and he used all these houses to decorate the train sets. They all date from the 30's and 40's. Every house has the year written in pencil that it was added to his collection. All of the houses are on raised platforms and are decorated with various combinations of silver glitter, diamond dust , & white snow sand. They are all in very good to excellent condition. All of the windows and doors have original cellophane. They can all illuminated by placing a bulb in the small hole in back of each house. Most are stamped with a circle that reads: MADE IN JAPAN. They range in size from 4" to 5"(the size of the platform), and some have small bisque figurines. This is my last set and it includes 11 houses with the following descriptions--7 of the houses are dated XMAS 1936 and 4 of the houses are dated Xmas 1939 in pencil on the bottom. All of these houses have a very heavy mica covering that is typical of the older sets: Large double Peaked house with two-tone hot pink and white roof. Circular and semi-circular window, 2 regular windows and door. Two sponge trees and charming blue fence. White mica path to door. Bottom says: Xmas 1936. Small blue foil house with Double peaked, pink and white roof. Four windows and front door. Bottom reads: Xmas 1936. Large purple house with orange and white roof. Three windows and side door.Sponge tree and white fence. Marked on the bottom--Xmas 1936. Small blue foil house with one window and a door.Two-tone pink and white roof. Sponge tree with snow. Marked on bottom Xmas 1936. Charming small gold foil house with teal and white roof. Four windows and door.Marked on bottom--Xmas 1936. Small house with paper covering to resemble brick. One large window and two small windows. (Round window is missing cellophane) Green and white, twin-peaked roof. Marked on bottom--Xmas 1939 Small hot pinkfoil house with one small and two large windows. Door on side. Two-tone blue and white roof. Marked on bottom--Xmas 1936. Small house with paper covering to resemble brick. Two large windows and one small window. Front door. Marked on bottom--Xmas 1939. Wonderful large Church with removeable steeple. Roof is hot pink and white. Three windows and bisque figure of priest standing out in front of the church. Fence on two sides and Sponge tree. Marked on bottom--Xmas 1936. Small house with paper covering to resemble brick. Peaked Blue and white roof over door. Cellophane missing from small round window at top. Marked on bottom Xmas 1939. Large white house with white roof. Sponge brush trees and mica path to front door. Two windows and a door. Marked on the bottom Xmas 1939. This particular set is very colorful with deep shades of green, purple, pink. If you read my current feedback, you will see how pleased everyone was with the last 8 sets that I sold."

Christmas holly bar graphic

main page | house of the month | 2000 | 2001| 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005

Christmas trees bar graphic

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.)

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.