The post-World War II era promoted a modern twist on the holiday collectible market, which made Santa Claus all the more prominent. By 1950, holiday keepsakes took advantage of mass production techniques and new materials, with Santa on center stage.
Many post-war holiday collectibles paid homage to St. Nick or Santa Claus, immortalizing him in plastics and polymers. Bakelite sleighs with Santa and his reindeer were typical holiday wares of the 1940s and 1950s. Plastic advertising signs, trays and store displays presented Ole St. Nick in Monel sheet metal, enameled metal and inexpensive plastic. If you can learn to identify these mid-century materials, it will help you date pieces that you find at a local yard sale, flea market or even stashed away in your own attic!
Major board game companies like Milton Bradley introduced games featuring Santa, including the seasonal favorite, The Santa Claus Game. Today, this holiday game in good condition is worth $15 at Christmastime.
Remember, context will increase the value of your collectibles, and likewise, context will drive the market up for certain items at certain times of the year. For instance, you are more likely to get a higher price for your vacation home at the shore if you put it up for sale on Memorial Day weekend rather than on Christmas Eve. The same goes for collecting contemporary Santa Claus items.
Santa’s look has changed throughout the years. From his early look based on the 19th century prints of Thomas Nast to the jolly St. Nick featured on Coca-Cola advertisements in the 1950s and 1960s, the old elf is nothing if not recognizable.
While he may have gained a few pounds and expanded his white beard over the years, most collectibles stay true to the typical look of Santa. Even late 19thcentury German Dresden figures made of cardboard or pressed paper and decorated with glitter and pigment show Santa in his traditional red suit and cap.
Santa objects and other holiday collectibles are becoming more and more desirable to collectors. Santa was immortalized in mouth-blown glass ornaments, nutcrackers and cookie tins. Keep grandma’s Santa collectibles and you are sure to celebrate the holiday in style. Happy holidays!
Lori Verderame hosts antiques appraisal events worldwide. Watch “Dr. Lori” on the Discovery Channel’s “Auction Kings,” or visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or @DrLori on Twitter.