This is an update of a posting I wrote back in 2012 - seven years ago as of this writing - and since then I have accumulated a pretty good collection of figurines and accessories to add to my ever-growing colonial village.
Plus, there is some history included, to boot!
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Since discovering Dept. 56 back in 1989, I have become a fan - a collector - of the small lighted houses. Though my main collection is their Dickens Village, with the various Dickensian characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, etc. (click HERE to see my post on that from 2011), I have ventured off a bit over the last few years to collect other series, such as Sleepy Hollow and other Hallowe'en houses (click HERE), and also a few odds & ends showing Victorian times. I've even had a few 1940s through the 1960s Americana buildings such as a Dairy Queen, a drive in restaurant, and a gas station (though those have been packed away so good I forgot where I put them). A good many of the houses in the various collections are designed from an artist's imagination seemingly based on nostalgia, but the improvement over the years to bring out much more accurate looking buildings, designed from actual structures, has taken precedence, including Big Ben and Gadshill Place in the Dickens series.
But I have mentioned to my wife quite frequently on how cool it would be to have actual historical houses - American historical homes - from the early days of our country's founding, as a collection.
It took a while, but in 2010: "A new porcelain Village series "Williamsburg" delighted Village collectors and history buffs alike. This series was formally introduced at a collectors' event held in historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia in October with Village artist, Jeff Junkins present for the entire event." (from the Department 56 site)
This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the company had concentrated on an actual historic village, and I was pretty darned...well...ecstatic, to say the least. So I began purchasing them until I got nearly the entire Williamsburg village. To be honest, I couldn't afford the prices being asked by the company itself, but by searching on the internet daily and having patience, I was able to locate a few of the houses at, in most cases, half off or more the original asking price, allowing me to acquire pretty much all but a very few in the collection.
I don't have a large house - bungalows usually aren't - and therefore space is limited, so I have to put my lighted house collection on a wall shelf and on top of my computer desk.
So, beginning with my wall shelf, here is my colonial village display:
|My colonial mainstreet.
Perfectly! They matched perfectly!
So, what I have here are photos of the original buildings as they sit in Colonial Williamsburg followed by the Dept. 56 miniatures I had purchased.
You be the judge:
|And here is the Dept. 56 ceramic version of the Wythe house.
I need a ceramic figurine of me at the door.
|King's Arms Tavern: This was one of the best-known taverns in Williamsburg and, during the Revolutionary War, the proprietress, Mrs. Jane Vobe, provided food and drink to the Patriots fighting the Redcoats.
|Dept. 56's accurate rendition of the King's Arm Tavern
|Here is Dept. 56's fine replication of the Taliaferro-Cole House.
|And here is the Dept. 56 replica of the Taliaferro-Cole Shop.
|And here is Department 56's miniature of Bruton Parish Church.
|Tarpley's Store: John Tarpley began his store at this location in 1755.
|And here is the copy
Next up we have a building that is not located in Colonial Williamsburg but in Philadelphia. I am including it in my Williamsburg collection for two reasons: 1) because it fits the colonial look of the 18th century (obviously). And 2) because there is no other historical collection of lighted houses that I can put it with. So, what else am I supposed to do?
Don't worry, I do let folks know about it when they see my set up, just as I am doing now.
|And here is the wonderful miniature from Dept. 56.
Having the lighted houses are fine and all, but it's the accessories that will make any ceramic village seemingly come to life. Dept. 56 did have people to go with the houses, but they didn't seem to have enough interest in this series (or it was not a big seller), for the Williamsburg Village was cancelled after only a few years, and so figurines were few and far between. However, it was in 2018 that I inadvertently discovered (through another miniatures collector) there were plenty more 18th century accessories than what Department 56 had available, though from another company. It seems that back in the 1990s Lang & Wise, through the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, not only put out a collection of houses, but, more importantly, period 18th century figurines.
I was elated.
However, I also learned that the houses put out by Lang & Wise were quite a bit smaller than the Dept. 56 size, and they didn't light up either. To top it off, the house sizes make the figurines that supposedly are to go with them look like they are much too large - they might be giants.
Needless to say, I am not interested in the Lang & Wise houses.
As for the people/accessories, I, once again, delved into the search engines of the internet, finding many, if not most from the L&W figurines at pretty good prices. Remember - you need to have patience. If you wait long enough, that $30 or $40 piece can be found at $10 or $15.
So, please allow me to introduce you to the townsfolk of my colonial village:
|What would a 1770s colonial town be without a fife and drum corps?
These are part of the Department 56 collection.
|Another Dept. 56 accessory called "Carter Coach" takes unseen passengers to the next village or town.
If I had one major complaint it would be that all of the Department 56 Williamsburg houses are decorated for Christmas.
I know, I know...that's what they specialize in...
Still, I leave mine up all year long.
|Another Lang & Wise accessory, this one called "The Mulberry Sociable." Look at the top-notch quality on every part of this. The detail - - ! Even the carriage body sits on springs!
|Lang & Wise: "Strolling Men" and "Strolling Women"~
Excellent depictions of the every man and every woman.
I have them visiting on the street, perhaps preparing to enter the home of Master George Wythe.
All because of an e-mail asking about a cooper.
Now, in the next picture, take a look at this version of the Taliaferro-Cole Shop, which is slightly different from the Dept. 56 house I have. And I recently purchased it on Ebay for---$11.00! That's it!
So, of course, since it doesn't have Christmas wreaths in the windows, as does Dept. 56, I put this new "Town Hall Collectibles" version from the 1990s on display, for the quality is top notch.
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To begin, here's a bit of information you might find interesting, for it includes the next phase in my miniature collecting:
My very favorite houses inside car magnate Henry Ford's open-air museum of Greenfield Village is the Daggett Farmhouse, originally built around 1750. There is an attachment I have to this house like no other.
And if you didn't know this about me, then you must be brand new to reading my blog!
But this breakback/saltbox-style home is, to me, the epitome of 18th century architecture.
Here it is:
|The 1750 Daggett Farm
And right next to the Daggett house we find the Cape Cod Farris Windmill, built in 1633, also carefully taken apart and removed to the internationally known open air museum.
|The 1633 Farris Windmill
Being that the Dagget house is my favorite, I've often thought how great it would be to have a Department 56 version for my collection.
It was back during the latter part of this century's first decade that a friend of mine and his then fiance were at a local collectibles store, and they made sure they stopped by to tell me that they had seen a lighted ceramic Dept. 56 Daggett-style house for sale there.
Of course, I went to the store myself to see it.
Yep - there it was! And it was beautiful. In fact, there were four of these houses sitting on the shelf. Since they were a discontinued Dept. 56 product, thus considered used, they had no box or packaging of any kind.
And, unfortunately, they were also rather pricey, so I decided to pass on owning one, though I thought about this ceramic version of Daggett and how cool it would've looked on my shelf. I really wanted to get it, but I just couldn't pay the extravagant price.
I decided to see what I could find on Ebay.
Wise choice, for there it was, listed under the title "Home Sweet Home."
And guess what? With it came, in the same box, a windmill. A windmill that looked suspiciously like the Farris Windmill at Greenfield Village.
It wasn't being sold that way at the store - - - hmmm...something's amiss here...so I decided to go back to the collectibles store and let them know.
They could not care any less. How sad...
No matter, for the price for both items - the house and the windmill - in the original packaging, was less than half the price of just the house by itself from that shop.
Needless to say I bought it off Ebay.
It took only a few days til my package arrived - and here they are together:
|And this is how the two structures look as they sit inside Greenfield Village:
After researching it a bit I found out that the two Dept. 56 ceramics were introduced in 1988 and were discontinued in 1991. They are v-e-r-y close in comparison, especially considering they came in the same box.
But, alas, it was not replicated after the two Greenfield Village; Dept. 56's website says that the house was, "Inspired by the East Hampton, NY historic landmark home of John Howard Payne, composer of 'Home Sweet Home'."
Does the Payne home have similarities to Daggett?
Why, of course!
|The home of John Howard Payne - with windmill
Who could ask for anything more, right?
But for this history nerd, owning "the Daggett Farm" wasn't enough. Besides the town miniatures you saw above, I also learned that Lang & Wise put out farming figurines as well. And since I am interested in historic farming, I dove head-first into this collection, once again blending Department 56 and Lang & Wise, and put together a colonial farm scene, and with a little imagination, we can get a slight idea of how the Daggett farm (or one similar) may have looked 250 years ago:
|In this first picture we have the Dept. 56 House and Windmill.
However - - - -
Now, let's get a closer glance at the accessories and figurines that make up my 18th century farm:
Heading out toward the field we see more field work:
|"Working in the Field With Oxen" is another Lang & Wise miniature.
From the clothing to the work, I have never seen accessories like these before - actual farm work depictions from the colonial period.
|The little ones around the farm tend to the chickens, roosters, and the eggs. In the center background we see "Girl Chasing Rooster" from Lang & Wise, while on the right the Dept. 56 figure is called "Gathering Eggs."
|The Lang & Wise figure center left is called "Dairymaid Leading Cow," while the woman milking a cow is simply called "Dairymaid Milking."
|And here we are: two women "Shearing Sheep" (as this figurine is called) while another watches the flock.
And, of course, I also speak as Paul Revere when asked.
This miniature collection really does fit in well with my love and fascination - infatuation? - for the colonial period in America's history, as well as with Greenfield Village's Daggett Farm in particular. I suppose it's a sort of could it have been like this?
Too bad I don't have more room to spread it out a bit more...
Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this little reprieve from the modern world. In this day and age of insane Facebook anything goes craziness, I try to surround myself with the little things that help to get me through life.
Some people have sports. Others travel.
I have history.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, see you in time.
To read more about the Daggett House, click HERE
To read about my Dept. 56 Dickens Village collection, click HERE
To read about everyday life on a colonial farm, click HERE.
And to read about my Colonial Williamsburg adventure, click HERE
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