Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Dept. 56 Dickens Village Display for 2011

I purchased my very 1st Dept. 56 lighted house in 1989. It was the original Scrooge house from Dickens "A Christmas Carol" story and, being such a fan of that novel, I just had to have it. And there it sat proudly that Christmas, as a center piece on our kitchen table.
"Every year I'll add to it!" I told my wife, "And eventually I'll have a pretty cool collection."
And I kept my word. The following year I paid closer attention and noticed that not only were there houses in this collection, but figurines, too. So I would get another house and a figurine or two. Within a few years I had a small but growing village. One year I kinda went over board: I was at our local (but now defunct) Hudson's Department Store and saw that they had this massive amount of additions to the Dickens Village. So, I did something that wasn't very smart - I opened a Hudson's charge account and bought a few pieces with it. Well, more than a few pieces...enough to get my wife pretty ticked at me. For quite a while...
I cut up the card and went back to getting one or two additions a year again. And, except for one or two accessories, it was always from the Dept. 56 Dickens Village.
Over the ensuing years I bought something like 36 houses and countless figurines and other accessories; enough to fill three or four 6 foot tables. Every November 1st I would take the day off work and spend the early morning til late at night setting up my village. And it would spill over another day or two, depending on how elaborate I wanted to get. Why early November instead of after Thanksgiving? Because it took so long and so much work went into it that I didn't want to have it up for only a few weeks and then take it down after all this work.
Anyhow, I really don't go nuts in adding to this collection anymore only because the pieces are priced out of my affordability. I might buy an accessory or two if they are cheap enough, but that's about it.
Now, it's been since around 2007 or 2008 since I've put up my entire village, so this year, now that we've cleaned up the basement a bit, I decided, "what the heck!" and pulled out the entire collection.
My whole family was thrilled!
I didn't go very elaborate - you can see a few things like wires here and there, though I've used cottonballs to try to hide most of it.
So I thought I would post a few photos...okay, more than just a few photos.
I hope you enjoy it:

The rich side of town. This is where Charles Dickens and Mr. Brownlow live.

The rich side of town. This is where Charles Dickens and Mr. Brownlow live. In fact, I see Mr. Dickens in his green coat - it looks like he is giving a reading of his new novel, "A Christmas Carol."

Heading into the city we see Scrooge's nephew Fred's home. And there is the beautiful stone church with the pastor giving bread to the poor.
And, wait? Is that Florence Nightengale?

Note the graveyard and the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come with Scrooge. Since they are invisible, the others have no idea that they are even there and go on their merry Christmas way!

I see Scrooge's house - and a hearse going by...
If you look just in front of the horse you can see the Ghost of Jacob Marley right outside Scrooge's door.
I bet that must be Marley's body in the hearse!

Getting closer to the business section of town we pass a bakery and a place to get lamps and oil.

Without the camera flash.

Now we're into the heart of my own little London town. Do you see the Scrooge & Marley Counting House? Yep, it's Christmas Eve and he's still in there working!

"Business?? Mankind was my Business!"
Here is where so much of London's business takes place.
Oh and I know Big Ben was not around in 1843. It's just a really cool piece and Miles insisted that I put it up.

A very busy and exciting city during Christmas!

And there's the pub!
Whoa! That lamp post is leaning. One is supposed to lean on a lamp post, not the other way around!!

"Chestnuts! Get yer hot chestnuts 'ere!!"
I also see the vendor who has the Big Prize Turkey off in the distance.

A maltings and gristmill are on the edge of town.

Oohh...the seedier side of town. This is where Fagin lives, and where the dirtier businesses such as the blacksmith and the coal factory are located.

The same scene without the camera flash:
See the young pick-pocket run off with his stolen goods? And, of course, another pub.

And there is Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Past ("Long past?"
"No, YOUR past") looking inside old Fezziwig's warehouse window, eying a Christmas party from his youth. I believe they danced the Virginia Reel!
It's old Fezziwig alive again!!

"Wassail wassail all over the town,
our bread it is white and our ale it is brown!"
I see wassailers celebrating and making a lot of noise as they stroll and dance down the cobblestone lane.

 Ahhh...I see the Ghost of Christmas Present showing Scrooge the Christmas celebration at the Cratchit home. In fact, I see Bob and Tiny Tim!

Looking down the lane where the Cratchit's live. If you look close enough you can see a woman dipping candles.
I see the road labourer should fix the road!

I believe this just might be the Cratchit children bringing home the Yule Log!

A bird's eye view of the entire village.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the photos of my village. I do enjoy setting it up - it gets me in the spirit of Christmas a little earlier. We don't bother much the whole shopping aspect that has become the Holiday, and this is one of the little thrills we all get that simply adds to the season.

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A side note here: Since writing this post about my Dept. 56 Dickens collection, I have begun to collect the Dept. 56 Colonial Williamsburg series as well. If you are interested in seeing what I have, please click HERE. I do plan to update the post as I purchase more from the series.



Betsy said...

Holy cow, what a spread! I love it! I had always wanted to start one of these village collections but never got around to it. And probably won't seeing how they're priced now! Thank you for letting us live vicariously through your photos. :)

Betty Lou said...

Magnificent! These are the kinds of things that your children and family will remember of Christmas past.

PvtSam75 said...

This is great! My mum collects Dickens Village pieces as well, and has enough to fill a large room ewith her display. Unfortunately, we have two cats that love to get into everything, so she no longer goes all out. Nice to see someone else with a great Dickens display!

Historical Ken said...

Thanks! I am glad I was able to get my whole set put up. It may be a few years before I can do it again - - -

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Wow, that's a very large Dept. 56 collection! I fell in love with the Dickens collection years ago, but only collected 5 pieces before I figured out I had nowhere to display any more! I bet your young son gets a kick out of it. The little houses look so beautiful all lit up at night!


Christine said...

Ken, please tell your wife I instantly recognized her (because of her shawl) the moment I saw the cover of The Citizens' Companion. She's a knitter, she'll understand what I mean. LOL

The back cover is a fabulous shot, btw. Worthy of framing. Love it!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Christine - I certainly will. I didn't receive my copy yet - - - what's on the back cover?

An Historical Lady said...

Aww Ken, it's marvelous! It is so wonderful that you have started this tradition for your family.
On my blog as you know I have been talking about how much I love the traditions of Christmas, (with still more to come!) and I know you do too.
If I were there I'd turn off all the lights and just have the village lit and just sit in a chair with a cup of cocoa and favorite Christmas music playing and look at it!
Warmest holiday wishes to you and your family~

Wendy G said...

Why did you opt for that Scrooge house instead of the flat? I am torn between the two and would love input. I prefer the counting house you chose (versus the one-story version), BTW. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous collection!

Historical Ken said...

Patzermom -
I was mesmerized when Dept. 56 began to come out with the animated houses, and seeing the wandering spirits moving about Scrooge fascinated me in the newer piece and added another bar to the whole set up. I still use the original Flat house but only as an extra house belonging to 'anyone'. Being that it was my first Dept. 56 piece I don't think I can ever get rid of it.
Thank you for the kind words about my collection. They're pretty addicting aren't they?

Unknown said...

Hello. I am trying to find the name of the piece that has a man standing on a bench grooming a horse. I have seen pics of it lately online but could not bookmark it

Please contact me if u know. Not sure how to use this blog

Unknown said...

Very lovely! Now i have some of these collections, i am so excited to start doing the layout now.... wonderful!!!

gretel said...

great collection could you tell me how wide are the tables you set it in? i have mine year round in 24" deep shelves but guessing your tables are 36"+ thank you so much

Historical Ken said...

Yes - 36"

Ladyhillside said...

I love your Dicken's Christmas village---it's very well done. I have a village too, and I know how much time, work, and money goes in to such a large, nice village. We lived in England for a while (now we are back in the states) so I have collected pieces that remind me of places I saw in England. It is fun to look at and be reminded of our time there.