It’s been a pretty good day today. I gilded the edges of a book, fixed dinner for tonight and half of tomorrow night’s, got Emily to the doctor for an ingrown toe nail, got the chores done, read half a book (Equal Rites) and got my advent calendar list updated.. at least until I get another one.
Speaking of advent calendars, it’s about time to start thinking about how many and which ones I want to use this year and update my Christmas card list. So if you’d like a card from me, please make sure I have your current address.
Also, if you’d like to help me decide on an advent calendar or six, take a look at my list below and vote for your favorite
The Blumenhaus (Flowerhouse) RS#50
My first copy of this was given to me in 1969 by Kendrik Hamilton (son of my Mom’s best friend) when I was six and I kept it very carefully (door 5 got torn off but that’s the only one) and used it every Christmas for years and years. That is the one that Shredder destroyed in 2013 I finally found another copy (2 in fact… Shredder taught me the wisdom of having a back up!) in 2014 and this copy feels brand new! I don’t think the doors have ever been opened before.
However, in the year I was hunting for that advent calendar, I managed to collect a number of others.
The Norman Rockwell calendar (published by Abrams calendars in 2010) I got a few years before the shredding incident thinking that I should really use a different calendar to save some wear and tear on my antique. The year Shredder mangled my first one was the very first year I had been able to convince myself to use it. There is some irony in that but I’m only just begining to appreciate it.
This one is Stuttgart-Rohr (or Richard Sellmer) #100. It’s a reprint of one from the 1950s- there is a picture of the Eisenhower household using one in the White House. Two versions were printed… and subsequently reprinted… one with the shop names in German and one with them in English for the American market. It’s called “Die Kleine Stadt” (“Little Town”) and is similar in style to my first one… being made by the same company at around the same time. This one was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law (mostly my sister, I think) who were here for Christmas after the shredding year. This was the best one (the one most like the destroyed one) she could find before the next Christmas… and I thought it was very very sweet of her! I love that it’s the German version too.
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #225
I got this one partly because I was thinking I would never find the Blumenhus again and this one is a similar style of illustration. Unsurprising as it’s the same company and around the same time. This one is a German interpretation of what Holland is like at Christmas- not actually Dutch in origin at all inspite of all the things that would make you think that it is. I like it also because it’s a pop-up… when you unfold it, it stands on it’s own and the windmill, the horse carriage and the ship come forward in two different levels on a nice feat of paper engineering.
Father Christmas by Tolkien
Shortly after I found the Hobbit calendar, I found this one based on Tolkien’s Father Christmas letters with his illustrations and snippets of text. I do wish it was larger though- the pictures are very tiny and so is the text… and I would have liked a bit more space between the windows. The tiny strips of paper have a tendency to tear. In spite of that, it is one of my very favorites!
The Netherlands by World Book
World Book released a whole series of Christmas in… books with an associated advent calendar and ornament. (They aren’t hard to find nor expensive and would make a neat Christmas collection in their own right!) For some reason, I really really like this one… maybe it’s the delft blue theme or that it looks a bit like decorative tiles. Interestingly, this is the American version of what Christmas is like in Holland… so I have a German interpretation and an American interpretation… but I don’t think I actually have a Dutch advent calendar!
Enid Blyton’s Christmas Story Seabury Press
This is one that I went after specifically. I like Enid Blyton’s Five books and I love the busy, fantastic style of the illustration by Fritz Wegner. This is the American printing- in the UK the same calendar was printed by Hamish Hamilton. As far as I can tell, there are no differences between the American and UK versions other than the printer’s name on the front. There is a whole series of these calendars, many authored by Dorothy Sayers, that include Easter, Noah’s Ark and several Christmas ones although this is the only one I have seen with an associated American printing. I did, however, pay too much for this one… I have since seen Hamilton copies for a good deal less so if you want one, be patient and wait for a better price either on ABE or Ebay.
This is really Emily’s advent calendar. I bought it because it was witchy and neat… and she liked it so much that I didn’t get to keep it! There is apparently a popular set of children’s books in Germany featuring Merlinda and her dragon- we did find a copy in English for Emily. The calendar is particularly neat because the pictures behind the doors are not random- when you open a cabinet, you see what’s in the cabinet and so forth.
Christmas Fireplace by Tasha Tudor
This is my least favorite of the Tasha Tudor calendars. I still like her illustrations but this was put together by her estate after her death and doesn’t quite have the same pulled together feel of the ones she designed herself. However, it is still in print and so it’s possible to buy a brand new one for no more than cover price so that’s a distinct bonus!
A Christmas Carol adapted from Dickens by R J Cruikshank, illustrated by Friz Wegner and published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
This is another of the Advent card/storybooks like the Enid Blyton one and illustrated by the same person. This time, though, it’s a depiction of a Victorian city- appropriate to the story. Of the three Hamilton/Seabury cards I have, I like this one the least because it feels the least magical even though it’s a very nice calendar. I’ve also seen it going for huge prices so be careful if you look for one and don’t get wrangled into paying too much.
Doctor Who 2011
Every year in November the UK magazine Doctor Who Adventures includes an Advent calendar. Some years there are small Doctor Who themed toys but this year (issue #345), it was the kind I like with pictures. The seller I bought it from was selling an entire lot of Doctor Who Adventures magazine swag but I convinced him to sell me just this calendar and the next one… consequently, they were quite cheap.
Doctor Who 2012
This one is the second of the pair I bought. It was originally included in Doctor Who Adventures issue #296 in 2012. Yes, we know the box should be blue. I expect that after the previous year’s blue calendar, they didn’t want to make another blue one… in case people kept them and hung them together- as we do. I like these especially because we like the rebooted Doctor Who (I never got into him before) and, while I have not chosen a Doctor (generationally, I should be 4th Doctor… but he does not appeal especially) Emily most definitely has and her Doctor is the 13th Doctor (Matt Smith, pictured here and above).
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #200
I have no excuse for this one except that it’s an RS, it’s got pop-ups and it’s a castle. Plus it was cheap. I’m sure that it has a name but I haven’t discovered one as yet.
Down the Chimney Amy Greer
This is an activity calendar rather than one where there is a surprise. It’s neat but not my favorite kind.
I simply got lucky here. Flame Tree Publishing came out with this calendar just before the movie came out so it has the proper Michael Bond illustrations instead of images from the movie. Behind each of the doors is a sticker, but instead of peeling them up, I leave them in place and just enjoy them as pictures.
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer 1955 no order number
I like this one because there are no pop-ups and it looks like a flat calendar… right up until Christmas Eve and then there is a pretty intricate 3 dimentional scene. Which isn’t a surprise if you’ve looked at the back and seen this big cardboard box arrangement but it’s still pretty nice. Other than the Christmas Eve scene, it is also not especially religious.
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #206
This is a kind of nice Christmas market scene. It has a couple of pop-ups and a big square pop-up in the middle but it’s not something I would have bought and may be on it’s way out except I have no compelling reason to get rid of it and I may like it better once I actually use it. (That’s happened before.) I only got it because it was included with the next one… and the next one I just love.
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #252
This one I love from the traditional dresses and log cabins to the two little dogs playing in the corner… but what I love the best is the girls in St. Lucia dress that pop out from the back ground. I like them so well that when I was taking the picture, I completely forgot to pop out the Santa on his sleigh landing on the roof in the upper right.
Winnie the Pooh Fireplace
This is a Disney advent calendar but in the Classic Pooh line which are based on E. H. Shepherd’s illustrations rather than the cartoon. It’s designed by Michel & Co and is number 508… I can’t find what year it is from however! I wanted a Pooh advent calendar and as far as I am concerned, Classic Pooh is the only way to go… but this was not the one I actually wanted. I had given up on finding the one I wanted and decided that I’d rather settle for this one than have none at all. Of course, as soon as I got this one, I found the one I really wanted (pictured below) and was planning on selling this one… and then we used it- just once before we get rid of it, right? Um, no… the pictures behind the doors quite charmed us into keeping both of them!
Winnie the Pooh Tree
This another Michel & Co Classic Pooh calendar- the one I really wanted. I don’t know how it happens with other people but I tend to find exactly what I want shortly after I’ve given up on it entirely. This one is number 505 which likely means it’s a bit earlier than the fireplace… but I can’t find a year on either of them.
Tailor of Glouchester by Beatrix Potter
This is a large pull out calendar from Peter Pabbit’s Christmas book. I got it mostly for Emily because she feels about Beatrix Potter the way I feel about A. A. Milne. I do like that, instead of making it Peter Rabbit, they actually used the one Christmas story Potter wrote.
Avian Pop-up by Metropolitain Museum of Art
This one is a bit disappointing. I had seen it on line and thought it was a great idea- a pop-up tree with birds for every day- but the execution is lacking. The tree is well enough but the birds are not well defined and the paper tabs to hang them on the tree had a bad tendency to come unglued for no reason at all. I bought it at Barnes and Noble because I believe in supporting your brick and morter stores whenever possible but I may not be keeping this one.
Obviously I like advent calendars based on books I love so I could hardly resist this one. It was printed in 1998 by Harper Collins books and illustrated by Mary Collier. The set up is great, it’s a trifold that when closed is a wardrobe and then opens to a pretty snow scene.. which to me looks a lot like Mr Tumnus’ house. Unfortunately, the illustrations behind the doors were abysmal. Not that they were bad pictures in their own right… but they did not look like Narnia to me at all. So I carefully took it apart and replaced the Mary Collier pictures with illustrations by Pauling Baynes, mostly pulled from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but with a couple from other places. In doing so, I completely ruined it’s collectable value… but made it useable by me.
“Kleine Stadt im Mondschein” RS#933 (reprint of #204)
This is one of two “theatre” style calendars produced by Richard Sellmer. (The other one is at the very top of my wish list!) It comes in about five pieces which you have to set up as a diorama before using it but it’s easy to set up and the paper engineering is lovely. This one has been reprinted from the 1955 design although if you’re a purist, they do have a few copies of the original available for sale. Personally, I’d rather have the reprint as it’s a lot less expensive… and it’s printed on acid free paper. The original did have glitter… but that could be added to a reproduction if it was wanted. Either way, the least expensive option is to go by the Richard Sellmer website and buy it directly from them.
Nostalgisches Weihnachtshaus by Barbara Behr (Coppenrath)
I wanted this one for a long time before I found someone who was willing to post it to the USA… and when it got here, I could see why! It’s gigantic- at least three feet tall. I was also a bit disappointed. I expected that the windows would have the same picture as the silhouettes… but in colour. The background is actually the same… but the primary figures have no discernable relationship to the silhouettes.
The Cloister by Metropolitain Museum of Art
After the Avian tree, I’m a little leary of how much I’m going to like this one. It sets up nicely into almost a theatre style and it has a couple of neat pull outs at the bottom that reveal a deer in the trees and make the bird fly and the carriage go but we haven’t used it yet which can make or break my liking for it.
9/20/2015 Ebay $19.99
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #62
I ran across this one on Etsy. It’s obviously from very near the same time as my Blumenhus- I’ve never seen one so similar. It has never been used- it was sealed when I got it- so we’ll see but unless the pictures are really bad, I don’t see getting rid of this one.
Santa’s Workshop Advent Calendar Wheel
This is a different kind of advent calendar. Instead of having doors, there is only one door- you turn a wheel to show the date and it gives a suggestion of something to do and shows a new item to place in the workshop. The items are separate punchouts that have numbered slots where they should be added. I really like the very pretty sweet illustration style too. The artist appears to be E. Lathmer for Hallmark but I don’t find a date.
Oak Terrace Place by Kathy Lawrence
This is a 1993 calendar put out by Shackman. It’s done in the style I like the very best where the doors open to reveal the same part of the picture as before… but with a difference. For instance, on day two you open the top part of the lowest front door… and it now has a Christmas wreath on it.
Stuttgart Rohr/Richard Sellmer #211
We got this one partly because it has nifty pop-outs and forest animals… and partly because Emily swears the boy in the red shirt in the middle is Christopher Robin.
Die Weihnachtsstadt by Maria Wissmann (Coppenrath)
This is another one that startled me by it’s hugeness. I like the house theme… I always do… but we haven’t used it yet and whether or not we keep it will probably depend on how well we like the pictures behind the doors.
Lapin and Lapin Afternoon Teas by Tasha Tudor
This is one of my favorites. It was released in 1980 by Rand McNally (yes, the road map people). I love the little animals doing all kinds of winter and Christmas things… and there is always more to see. Since Tasha Tudor is so collectable, this calendar tends to show up with outrageous prices on it but with some patience, it can be found at a reasonable price… although act fast because a reasonably priced one will be gone very quickly!
This was released in 2013 by the Royal Collection Trust and, while it does not list any artist, it resembles strongly the Pheonix Trading calendars by Amanda Loverseed. It’s a bit unusual because, while there are five doors that open, most of the days are figures to be added to different slots, making the palace more and more ready for Christmas.
Snow White Western Germany
I really don’t have much information about this calendar. It’s obviously pretty early- 40s or 50s but the only things printed on it are “Made in Western Germany” and “138 Di”… possibly the artist’s initials? I’ve seen one other copy with a border around it- possibly a later version?- but there wasn’t much information on it either. It’s a pretty depection of Snow White- which is a fairly common theme for old advent calendars although I have no idea why- but we have not used it yet so I don’t know exactly how charmed we will be. The funny thing is, nobody else has used it either and I can’t imagine why not.
Tasha Tudor Christmas Comes but Once a Year
This is another of the Rand McNally Tasha Tudor calendars- I think this one is 1981. It doesn’t have the pulled together feeling of Lapin and Lapin but it’s still a really neat one with raccoons stealing pies and other assorted fun things.
Troll Advent Calendar by Antioch
This is printed by the company that I know best for making bookplates… indeed, the Troll bookplate is the one of theirs I see most often. The Troll has always looked a but Hobbit-y to me… so I was delighted to find this. The activities that are going on and all the forest animals also make me think of Tomtenisse and I love that there is a library (Christmas Party today!) and a woodworking shop… and of course a bakery (with a rabbit stained glass window… how cool is that?) and craft shop! It’s signed in the middle instead of on the corner by Tom Hill.
This one is hard to take a picture of because it folds into a three dimensional room. But then when the windows on the floor open, they not only reveal a picture but make stand ups for objects in the room. (The cat in the rocking chair is my favorite!) On the flaps that are hidden when it is folded together are the instructions for folding with a simple diagram but the only thing printed on it other wise is a number K8432. I can’t find any information on it at all but it looks fairly recent inspite of the vintage type graphics.
Westminster Abbey London KREUTTER FOTO KALENDER
This is another large calendar from 2006 showing the west face of Westminster Abbey. The designs behind the windows are more religious than I usually like… but it is a church, after all, and they’re pictures of the various stained glass windows which is fabulous. A lot of the German advent calendars have windows designed to be lit from behind… but this one really should be- the stained glass looks much better with light shining through it. The order number is given as #33, UPC #4019375100334.
Post Office by Tasha Tudor
I saw this original that Tasha Tudor made as a gift to “two little girls” on an online auction. Now there is no way I am ever going to be able to compete with avid Tasha Tudor fans… originals of her artwork command high prices no matter what it is. But the pictures given were fairly large and quite clear and most of the windows were shown so I made a ‘reproduction’ of it- filling in the unshown windows with windows from her Post Office calendar created by her estate. The Post Office calendar is itself a recreation of that first one though without the personalization in the Christmas Eve window and is briefly described in “Becky’s Christmas”. Problem is, she described the first one… and the reproduction doesn’t quite fit the description. (Yes, I’m too picky by half.) One of my favorites.
Remade from photographs of an original calendar by me 2015
3D Christmas Ballet by Ingrid Slyder (artist) for Caspari (ADV251)
Ah, after Christmas sales… I’d been looking at this calendar on line because I was not entirely satisfied with the Nutcracker advent calendar I had before and this one is better. It’s not perfect… if a better Nutcracker calendar comes along, I’ll probably replace it… but it was half price and it is quite nice being multi-layered and nicely drawn.
Polar Express Advent Calendar 2015
This is another of those sticker advent calendars, this one by Brown Trout. There’s a place on the back for you to put the stickers in order- possibly it makes a picture or tells the story. I got this one because it was really cheap… and it’s Emily’s favorite Christmas movie so this one is really for her.
WICHTELDORF IM SCHNEE Advertising calendar
Garpens must (Sökalunds Bryggeri) inna kalender troligen slutet av 1930 talet *Garpens must (Sokalunds brewery)Advent calendar probably the end of 1930* written on the back. I can’t find out anything about either a company named Garpens or Sökalunds as a place (or anything else) but I did find out a little about Julmust. I love the Nisse in the snow amd the little warning sign on the ice.
The Days Before Christmas By Fritz Wegner
Published by Hamish Hamilton around 1953. This is another of the Advent cards that were published by Hamish Hamilton and one I had been looking for for quite awhile! I had found only a couple of copies… and they were very expensive- around $150 each. So I was very very happy when this one came up on Ebay… and the young man said he had found it in his mother’s papers and decided to give it one shot on Ebay before putting it in the recycle bin. On the front it is inscribed “To Susan (his mother) from Eileen (her aunt)” and was a gift in the early 50s in North Yorkshire. I do like knowing the history of such things! I love it because of Wegner’s fantastic village with all kinds of odd creatures and you never know what you will find behind the door (Captain Hook? A Bookworm? Oh my.)
Copy 2 poped up before Copy 1 ended so I bid on both of them hoping to get one. As it happens, I won both of them… and has been pointed out above, Shredder has taught me the value of a back up!
Get Well calendar
Getting Ready for Christmas Hallmark Cards
This isn’t one advent house, it’s three! (Ok, it’s spread over three houses) Besides the nice midcentury graphics, on the inside of the doors is printed a poem, one line per day.
The guests are welcomed at the door
The gifts are piled upon the floor
The cook is making gingerbread
And all are waiting to be fed
The corn is popping almost done
Come and get it everyone!
A taffy pull is in full swing
Cheerful, merry voices ring
The stockings hang all in a row
Outside it has begun to snow
The younger tots have said their prayers
And now are fast asleep upstairs
But one sits by a candlestick to wait awhile for Old St. Nick
The older children laugh with glee and dance and caper ’round the tree
A train for Jack, a doll for Jill, a scarf for Anne and Gloves for Bill
Underneath the mistletoe Jane steals a kiss from her best beau!
Hot things to drink, good things to eat
For every child a special treat
The grown-up folks sit by the grate
The clock says that it’s growing late
Everybody stops to spy the Christmas star up in the sky
The Christmas carols now begin
With everybody joining in
And all the doors are opened wide to welcome in the Christmastide!
There is a slight problem with this copy in that it will not lay down flat due to a glueing error in the manufacture. to fix it would pull all the pictures out of line… so it stays. There is also a small split between the panels and a pulled place on the front. This calendar was blogged about before on Poetry and Popular Culture and I have seen another copy in another blog or possibly on Pinterest though I can’t find it now. It’s a really nice one… although I paid too much for it. The references I have found seem to agree that it’s from the 50s- although maybe early 50s- not the 40s as the auction I won claimed.
Santa Scene Pop Up by Caltime Ltd. Made in England. S246
This is such a fun 3D calendar- I love the kitty on the packages and the squirrels and birds in the trees… and that’s a fantastic toy car Father Christmas is holding… and I swear the elf talking to him looks just like my friend 80s- short like him too. (I just noticed a problem with my picture- you can’t see the elf talking to Fr Christmas- the other elf’s hat is in the way. This a problem with the multi-layered 3D calendars. One photo rarely suffices!)
This is a very busy calendar! It goes from a cabin to a royal palace to a church… although the palace is sporting the flag and arms of the de Stafford family of England. This has a similar problem as the Tolkien calendar in that some of the doors are very close together and many of them are very small so much care will be needed to open the doors without tearing the cardboard between them. Dates from around the 1950s. Designed by Max Kunzil, Zurich – printed in Switzerland No. 26
1978 Pop-Up & Moveable Advent Calendar Animal Design by JCO Kunstforlag Copenhagen Made in Denmark. 1465
I love all the animals- the hedgehogs, the raccooons, the little mouse sing-along in the corner. Has APW 1978 written on the back. I have seen this calendar before but it was always missing all the doors- this one only has one door missing and it’s in the sky. If it bothers me too much, I can probably make a new door for it that won’t be horribly obvious.