Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of my readers and friends have a safe, wonderful and blessed Christmas! I'll be taking my usual holiday break from the blog beginning today, but I'll be back on New Year's Eve.
By the way, that's my parents' vintage creche above. Unfortunately, I don't know the actual history of how my parents acquired it. I just remember it from when I was a kid, and I'm happy that I ended up with it.

It's still in pretty good shape. Each figure is made of paper-mache and is marked "Hand Painted in Italy" on the bottom. There are a few figures out of camera range, including the shepherds, two camels, a cow and some sheep.

Various online sources state that sets almost identical to mine (with minor differences in painting details) were produced by Fontanini.

This set (below) is similar to mine, and was identified as being from the 1940s (although I have no way of knowing if that is true). With the exception of color variations, all of the figures match mine, although there is one that I do not have (which is visible behind Mary's head).

This set (below) very much matches mine, although I do not have the shepherd carrying the sheep. My flock has also been thinned a bit, as I do not have this many sheep.

This set (below) matches mine as well, although the paint finish is very flat, making it look like some of them have been repainted. I also do not have the donkey.
Here are two figures from the same set (below). I've never been able to figure out what the kneeling guy is doing. Thus, I don't know whether to set him up next to Jesus (if he is presenting him with a gift) or next to the sheep (if he is feeding them).
I've seen this figure in the same pose holding a lamb; I've also read that he's holding a hat in the above pose. 
If it is food he's offering, it looks kind of like some kind of pepperoni dish.


Mickey Massey said...

That's the same set my grandparents had. They lived on the northern side of Elyria and were Italian just like the figurines. My aunt sent me a photo, looks like 14 pieces.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Mickey,
That’s roughly what I have in my set too. I have 15 figures. I’ll bet they were packaged in different combinations over the years. The manufacturer must have used the molds for a long time for there to be so many color schemes. I’m fairly surprised there isn’t a website devoted to these sets, as they are likely a much treasured item for many people, and it’s interesting to compare them.

Randall Chet said...

This sure brings back memories. My family had a very similar paper mache set also, but it was stamped West Germany Occupied Zone (at least as I remember). This probably dates it to just after WW2. The set ws probably my grandparents on my fathers side. I'll need to ask my mom if she still has it.