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The Blow Mold Expert

Confusing Mold Craft Santas

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Mold Craft produced 6 reindeer teams between their openeing in 1947 and their factory fire and eventual sell out to Heller in 1963.  Heller coincidentally burnt too in late 1965 or early 1966.  In the time Mold Craft was around there were really 2 "eras" of the company.  In the early days (1947 to mid 50s) D*ck Wiken was head sculptor.   5 of the 6 Mold Craft deer teams were produces in this time.   After he left to start his own company Sculptoris Inc. in the mid 50s, Mold Craft stopped selling items produced from his sculpts.  This may have been for legal reasons or simply to offer a new catalogue of products.  Regardless, after he left the only Mold Craft deer team that was produced is the most commen one (the one stamped 1958 and internally lit.)

For that deer team a waving Santa was produced that could be ordered in standing or half body varieties.  This deer team was marketed as "Junior Size Deer Team" even though Mold Craft only produced one size of team after Wiken left.   There were 2 different "Junior Size" teams created BEFORE Wiken left, and the similar names create confusion.  Since this set isn't part of the mystery and only makes things more confusing, we'll leave it out from now on. 

I want to focus on the 5 sets made before Wiken's departure from the company.  They are as follows:

White Junior Size Deer Team

Brown Junior Size Deer Team

No. 42-5 Life Size Deer Team

No. 42-8 Life Size Deer Team (more on these in a minute)

King Size Deer Team

 

Now we have concrete evidence of the Santa's the two Junior Size teams came with.  The white "Junior Size" team came with a small santa with a flat hat (see image 1.)  This is the only Santa recorded being sold with this team.

The brown Junior Size team came with a 6'3 waving Santa with toy bag, named "Santa Collosis".  Unlike the other teams where Santa was in the sleigh, this santa was designed to stand beside the sleigh (which was full of gifts.)  See the ad (image 2, sorry for the small pixel size)  This is the only Santa recorded being sold with this set.

The Life Size teams are where things get choppy.  There were two Life Size deer teams.  One involved deer with round, short faces. The other featured long faces, with little white dots on their backs. One of these was No. 42-5 and one was No. 42-8, but I havent found any catalog image that puts a certain number with a certain set.  For this reason I will call them "Short Faced" and "Long Faced" Life Size sets. 

These sets both were sold with 3 Santas over the years.  At one point, the "Short Faced" set was sold with a santa with his left arm in the air and his right arm accross his stomach (see image 3).  The "Long Faced" set was sold with a Santa with his right arm in the air and his left arm off to his side, not molded into his body or accross his stomach (see image 4.)  While having a similar hand position as "Santa Collosis", this Santa's left hand isn't accross his stomach, whereas the left hand of "Santa Collosis" was.  Now somewhere along the line these sets both started being sold with a full body, over 6 ft. tall santa with real fiberglass beard (see image 5.)  This santa is very clearly none of the Santas in images 1-4.  

So that's it for the Life Size teams right?  Nope.  Somewhere along the like a THIRD santa was sold with the two life size sets.  This is a 6ft Santa with bag and is very clearly different from the other 5 Santa's we've discussed so far (see image 6.)

The "King Size" team was sold with either a half body or full body (up to the buyer) "Santa Collosis" (see image 7) that was sold with the brown "Junior Size" team as well.  With the large size of the deer in the "King Size" team it made sense and was to scale to have him in the sleigh instead of beside it like with the brown Junior team.  But if you looked at the bottom of the ad for the third Santa sold with the "Life Size" sets, you'll see this Santa was sold with the King Size set as well.

So it's no mystery how many Santas were made for use in sleigh teams by Mold Craft.  Wiken-era Mold Craft made 6 Santas for its 5 sleigh teams and sold 10 combinations.  Here they are:

White Junior Set (flat hat Santa)

Brown Junior Set (Santa Colossis)

"Short Faced" Life Size Set (Left Arm Up Santa)

"Short Faced" Life Size Set (Strung Fiberglass Beard Santa)

"Short Faced" Life Sized Set (6ft Bag Santa)

"Long Faced" Life Size set (Right Arm up Santa)

"Long Faced" Life Size Set (Strung Fiberglass Beard Santa)

"Long Faced" Life Sized Set (6ft Bag Santa)

King Sized Set (Santa Collosis)

King Sized Set (6ft Bag Santa)

The mystery is the timeline.  In terms of the Life Sized set, which came first?  Each style's unique Santas, the strung fiberglass beard Santa or the 6ft one with the bag?  Which came first with the King Size set?  Santa Collosis or the 6ft Bag Santa?   

mcmetalsleigh.jpg

Screenshot_2019-11-09-12-40-00.png

LifeSizeSet.jpg

Mold-Craft amp Coca-Cola.jpg

mcsanta.jpg

Garrison-Wagner Catalog 1957 - Broadside 81 Santas 800.jpg

5a20d45e3a037_Mold-CraftReindeerSleigh(King-Size)(700).jpg.b1f2910b7dd5639e79d141b7a9da2953.jpg

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Interesting. I cant say ive ever seen one of these in person.  I dont see any mention of a bulb or lights, so im presuming theyre not lit up like a conventional blowmold.

"Molded from a rubber compound".  You know how rubber breaks down, dries out, becomes brittle as the years pass by. Probably why you dont see them around so much today.I looked on ebay and there are currently 3 mold craft items listed. The rudolph deer head and the choir girl look to be made of the rubber compound, and have light bulbs on the outside lighting them up. The owl looks  more like a conventional blowmold and glows from lightbulb inside.  A hand stamped **** wicken choir boy head looks pretty good for its age.

It would be cool to have a few of these relics, but admittedly im more in process of getting rid of stuff than accumulating more. :-)

 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, Scrooge said:

Interesting. I cant say ive ever seen one of these in person.  I dont see any mention of a bulb or lights, so im presuming theyre not lit up like a conventional blowmold.

"Molded from a rubber compound".  You know how rubber breaks down, dries out, becomes brittle as the years pass by. Probably why you dont see them around so much today.I looked on ebay and there are currently 3 mold craft items listed. The rudolph deer head and the choir girl look to be made of the rubber compound, and have light bulbs on the outside lighting them up. The owl looks  more like a conventional blowmold and glows from lightbulb inside.  A hand stamped **** wicken choir boy head looks pretty good for its age.

It would be cool to have a few of these relics, but admittedly im more in process of getting rid of stuff than accumulating more. 🙂

 

 

 

I have several pre-blow mold items and all it takes to keep them in good condition is a steady room tempature that isn't too dry.   

Update:  looking at dates on the advertisements, I have come to the following conculsion:

Sculptor **** Wiken left around 1954, however they didnt get a new sculptor until around 1957.   This was because after Wiken left and took the rights for his designs with him (they stopped selling almost all Wiken pieces), Mold Craft was allowed to continue to sell certain pieces designed by Wiken, at least for a few years.  We know this because of figures like the "Santa's Brownies" elves or the 2 Santas in the previously posted advertisement that were Wiken pieces but stayed in the Mold Craft catalog until the Heller buyout, and were subsequently produeced by them afterwards.  Apparently, they retained the rights to both the Life Size deer teams and the King Size team.  They lost the rights to the two styles of "Junior Size" team and the Santas for all 5 teams.   However, they retained the rights to the two Santas in image 6 (they weren't designed to be used with a deer team.)  Additionally, it appears they obviously were allowed to sell off any remaining stock of Wiken's designs that was already on the factory floor.

Apparently stock of the Santas for both the Life Size teams ran out first (after all they were the 2 most popular styles.)  When this happened they instead started selling it with the Santa with the strung fiberglass beard.  This ad is dated after the ads for the sleigh teams but before the ad with the 2 Santas (image 6.)  When stock of him ran out too, they started selling the teams with the large Santa from image 6 which was the only large Santa they still had the rights to produce new. 

Eventually, the stock of the Santa from the King Size set ran out too, so they started selling that set with the only large santa they still had the rights to aswell.  So the stand alone Santas were never supposed to be displayed with deer teams, but due to a downright brilliant overstock clearing move by Mold Craft, 2 of the 3 of them were (the smaller one from the 6th image was never sold with any deer teams.)

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On 11/18/2019 at 8:20 PM, The Blow Mold Expert said:

The Life Size teams are where things get choppy.  There were two Life Size deer teams.  One involved deer with round, short faces. The other featured long faces, with little white dots on their backs. One of these was No. 42-5 and one was No. 42-8, but I havent found any catalog image that puts a certain number with a certain set.  For this reason I will call them "Short Faced" and "Long Faced" Life Size sets.

Ah yes "Shorty" and "Horse Face"!

TED  😏

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I notice that you have no dates for any of the cropped catalog images that you posted so there is no way to determine the order in which they were made.  Hopefully in the future we will be able to date some them so that they can be put in chronological order.

**** Wiken was not connected with Mold-Craft in the 1940's, he sculpted for them from 1951 through 1954.

Mel

 

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On 11/22/2019 at 8:23 PM, Mel Fischer said:

Another Mold-Craft king size set with a different Santa circa 1957.

Mel

Mols-Craft King Sizw Reindeer Team (1957) (325).jpg

Thanks Mel.  "Expert" may be my comical username, but I think I speak for eveyone here when I say there is no debating that you are the king of the blow mold community. :D  As far as dating the ads, I looked through my files I have and from what I can tell the styles of Mold Craft's ads changed drastically around the mid 50s, but before they got some sort of new sculptor around 1957.  If you look at postcards and ads from Wiken's residency with the company from 1951 to rougly 54', they're mostly color or b/w pamphlets with color covers.  Around the mid 50s they focused more on ads in newspapers or Garrison Wagner.  I remember someone here saying the deer pamphlet (the one with the color image of 3 of the sizes on the front) is from 1951.  This would mean each team's original Santa would likely have come first because I've heard that was the same year Wiken joined the company.  The Santa with the strung fiberglass beard has an ad that it looks like came from a catalog or brochure from Mold Craft.  This would date it early, but not as early as the pamphlet released the same year Wiken joined.  The ad with the two Santa's looks to be from a newspaper or professional decor magazine rather than a catalog because of the shipping info at the bottom.  I went through my Garrison Wagner catalogs and couldn't find the ad, which leads me to believe it was in a newspaper or magazine.  This would line up with the ad style Mold Craft used in the mid 50s, after Wiken left but before the new sculpts were introduced.  I'm sorry that I don't have years, but many of these images didnt come from my catalog files, but came from my image files from years back.  If anyone here on PC is the original owner/scanner of any of these images just let me know and I will be more than happy to give credit.

Edited by The Blow Mold Expert

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Thank you for the kind words but I do not consider myself as the "king of the blow mold community" I do have a good amount of knowledge about the blow molds but there are others that have a lot of knowledge also .  It would be nice if they would be willing to share some of what they know.  My information on the years Wiken sculpted for Mold-Craft came from Anna Passante the author of "**** Wiken, Milwaukee Architectural Sculptor" there is a small section on Mold-Craft in the book.  I was in contact with her while she was writing the book and she told me she communicated with  Wiken's  daughter Jori who had Wiken's old files and records from the time period he worked with Mold-Craft.  The book has photos on pages 56, 58 & 59 that I contributed.

Which deer pamphlet (the one with the color Image of 3 of the sizes on the front) as possibly being from 1951 are you referring to, could you please post a picture of it?  Does it have a location for Mold-craft on it (Milwaukee or Port Washington)?

Mel

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39 minutes ago, Mel Fischer said:

Thank you for the kind words but I do not consider myself as the "king of the blow mold community" I do have a good amount of knowledge about the blow molds but there are others that have a lot of knowledge also .  It would be nice if they would be willing to share some of what they know.  My information on the years Wiken sculpted for Mold-Craft came from Anna Passante the author of "**** Wiken, Milwaukee Architectural Sculptor" there is a small section on Mold-Craft in the book.  I was in contact with her while she was writing the book and she told me she communicated with  Wiken's  daughter Jori who had Wiken's old files and records from the time period he worked with Mold-Craft.  The book has photos on pages 56, 58 & 59 that I contributed.

Which deer pamphlet (the one with the color Image of 3 of the sizes on the front) as possibly being from 1951 are you referring to, could you please post a picture of it?  Does it have a location for Mold-craft on it (Milwaukee or Port Washington)?

Mel

No problem for the words Mel.  The cover of the pamphlet I am referring to is attached (sorry about the poor quality).  I believe images 1, 3, and 7 in my original post to be from that pamphlet as they were all together in my files and each of these images shows one of the deer styles on the front.  Image 7 even references the cover, so I know at least that one cake from that pamphlet.  Unfortunately, it doesn't say if Mold Craft had moved to Port Washington yet.  I know a date of their move from Milwaukee to Port Washington has been something you and many others (including myself) have been searching for.  I wish I could help.  With the image you uploaded, that brings the total number of Mold Craft deer teams to 6 not including the lit 1958 set.  I originally thought it was the team in the picture I posted of the Coca Cola building, but look at the legs and the Santa.  Thanks again Mel.

post-35-0-29812500-1368184739_thumb.jpg

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it does not appear to me that image 7 is from the same pamphlet as the 3 deer picture you posted, the picture referenced as on the back cover is different from the picture you posted.  I lean towards your image 7 possibly being from 1954 or 1955.

The pamphlet with image 7 also has the complete 18 piece choir singer set and to my knowledge Wiken sculpted the last ones for that set in 1954.

Your image 2 is no later then 1952 as it has a Milwaukee address and Mold-Craft started their move to Port Washington in 1952.

I do think your images 3, 4 and 7 are from the same pamphlet which I lean towards being from 1954 or 1955 at this time.

The deer set in image 3 were noted as a "new model life size deer" that year.

I think that your images 5 & 6 might have originally been posted here by Bill Weis several years ago

Mel

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2 hours ago, Mel Fischer said:

it does not appear to me that image 7 is from the same pamphlet as the 3 deer picture you posted, the picture referenced as on the back cover is different from the picture you posted.  I lean towards your image 7 possibly being from 1954 or 1955.

The pamphlet with image 7 also has the complete 18 piece choir singer set and to my knowledge Wiken sculpted the last ones for that set in 1954.

Your image 2 is no later then 1952 as it has a Milwaukee address and Mold-Craft started their move to Port Washington in 1952.

I do think your images 3, 4 and 7 are from the same pamphlet which I lean towards being from 1954 or 1955 at this time.

The deer set in image 3 were noted as a "new model life size deer" that year.

I think that your images 5 & 6 might have originally been posted here by Bill Weis several years ago

Mel

Thanks Mel, I wasn't sure exactly the year they moved to Port Washington.  In front of Rudolph in image 7 it says "see three sizes of reindeer on back cover."  Is it possible that they used the image with the 3 deer on both the cover of the pamphlet image 7 is from as well as the choir pamphlet?   I believe I remember seeing an old ebay post or post here that said both the choir image and the image of the three deer were from the same brochure too.  I find it interesting that Mold Craft produced three sizea of deer in a Bambi-esque style dotted with white spots like a real deer, and three sizes done in more of a comical and exaggerated christmas style.  Whats even more interesting is that its appears both art styles were solld in all 3 sizes at the same time, meaning Mold Craft would have offered 6 styles of deer team at once instead of one art style replacing the other.  It's too bad we don't have more documentation of the hard molded rubber companies.   I've only seen catalog images from Mold Craft, none from the others (ALFCO, Heller, Sculptoris and Silvestri.)  Even then, I've only seen catalog images, never a complete catalog or pamphlet from Mold Craft.  I saw one pamphlet that sold on ebay a while ago, but there were no photos of the inside posted in the ad.  We know they're out there, that's what makes it so frustrating :D

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The picture that you posted of the three deer has a small white deer while the three deer picture on the image 7 and choir pamphlet has the middle size deer in white.   Also the girls in the two pictures are different.

Mold-Craft Reindeer (Possible 1955).jpg

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9 minutes ago, Mel Fischer said:

The picture that you posted of the three deer has a small white deer while the three deer picture on the image 7 and choir pamphlet has the middle size deer in white.   Also the girls in the two pictures are different.

Mold-Craft Reindeer (Possible 1955).jpg

Wow Mel! That image is incredible!  The smallest deer is the Rudolph in image 2, and the largest deer is a king size reindeer from image 7.   That white Rudolph appears to be the Rudolph from image 3 painted white.  Look at the legs and the face, it's definitely from the same mold. Do you know if they made just the Rudolph in white or if they made a white variation of that whole life-size set?  That would bring the total number of sets from the Wiken era to 7!  If they did, do you know if they made white versions of any of the other styles we know they made in brown?  

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On 11/24/2019 at 3:54 PM, Mel Fischer said:

My information on the years Wiken sculpted for Mold-Craft came from Anna Passante the author of "**** Wiken, Milwaukee Architectural Sculptor" there is a small section on Mold-Craft in the book.  I was in contact with her while she was writing the book and she told me she communicated with  Wiken's  daughter Jori who had Wiken's old files and records from the time period he worked with Mold-Craft.  The book has photos on pages 56, 58 & 59 that I contributed.

Mel

I wasn't aware of that book.  it's really cool that it contains images that you contributed!

TED

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Mold-Craft did make both Rudolph and the antlered life size reindeer that were painted white.

 The faun colored Rudolph was their #52-SB and the faun colored antlered deer was their #52-A they also had antlered deer with a white flashing bulb nose #52-AB.

The white painted Rudolph was their #52-SBW and the white painted antlered deer was their #52-AW.  They also had the white antlered deer with a white flashing bulb nose available.

The price was same for either color, the antlered deer with the white flashing bulb nose was $3 more then the antlered deer without the lighted nose.

I do not have any information at this time for a white life size set but I do think that they must have sold them as a set also considering there was no difference in the price for the colors.

As a side note, Mold-Craft referred to the "brown" colored reindeer as being faun colored in their brochure.

Mold-Craft also made the Junior Reindeer in white.  The white junior reindeer was #22-AW they also had this one with a white flashing bulb nose #22-ABW.

The white painted Junior Rudolph was their #22-SBW. 

The faun colored Junior antlered reindeer was #22-A.

The faun colored junior Rudolph was their #22-SB.

The price was the same for either color of the junior reindeer.

Mel

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5 hours ago, Mel Fischer said:

Mold-Craft did make both Rudolph and the antlered life size reindeer that were painted white.

 The faun colored Rudolph was their #52-SB and the faun colored antlered deer was their #52-A they also had antlered deer with a white flashing bulb nose #52-AB.

The white painted Rudolph was their #52-SBW and the white painted antlered deer was their #52-AW.  They also had the white antlered deer with a white flashing bulb nose available.

The price was same for either color, the antlered deer with the white flashing bulb nose was $3 more then the antlered deer without the lighted nose.

I do not have any information at this time for a white life size set but I do think that they must have sold them as a set also considering there was no difference in the price for the colors.

As a side note, Mold-Craft referred to the "brown" colored reindeer as being faun colored in their brochure.

Mold-Craft also made the Junior Reindeer in white.  The white junior reindeer was #22-AW they also had this one with a white flashing bulb nose #22-ABW.

The white painted Junior Rudolph was their #22-SBW. 

The faun colored Junior antlered reindeer was #22-A.

The faun colored junior Rudolph was their #22-SB.

The price was the same for either color of the junior reindeer.

Mel

Thats awesome Mel!  Are the Junior deer you're referreing to as being for sale in either brown or white the ones from image 1 or the ones from image 2?  They're different molds but both called "Junior" size.  Thanks again Mel, this is great stuff!

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I found a file with a screenshot from a post made on PC back in 2009 showing a few different Mold-Craft Rudolph reindeer.  There were no dates given for them or in the rest of the thread.  The post was made by Bill Weis.

Mel

Screenshot_2019-11-26 Mold Craft Rudolph - Forums of PlanetChristmas.png

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1 hour ago, Mel Fischer said:

I found a file with a screenshot from a post made on PC back in 2009 showing a few different Mold-Craft Rudolph reindeer.  There were no dates given for them or in the rest of the thread.  The post was made by Bill Weis.

Mel

Screenshot_2019-11-26 Mold Craft Rudolph - Forums of PlanetChristmas.png

Thanks Mel, it looks like they made all 6 mold styles in either brown or white based on what Bill said when put together with the info you provided. I'd say we can put this deer mystery to rest!  

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On 11/25/2019 at 12:24 AM, Mel Fischer said:

The picture that you posted of the three deer has a small white deer while the three deer picture on the image 7 and choir pamphlet has the middle size deer in white.   Also the girls in the two pictures are different.

Mold-Craft Reindeer (Possible 1955).jpg

This King Size Reindeer is impressive.  That girl looks like she could ride on his back.

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A screenshot of an eBay auction in 2006 for a 1951 **** Wiken reindeer.  Check out the price it sold for, the shipping was more then the reindeer.

Mel

Screenshot_2019-11-26 eBay 1951 Dick Wiken Milwaukee Mold Craft REINDEER Display (item 160056343466 end time Nov-30-06 15 3[...].png

Edited by Mel Fischer

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4 hours ago, Mel Fischer said:

A screenshot of an eBay auction in 2006 for a 1951 **** Wiken reindeer.  Check out the price it sold for, the shipping was more then the reindeer.

Mel

Screenshot_2019-11-26 eBay 1951 Dick Wiken Milwaukee Mold Craft REINDEER Display (item 160056343466 end time Nov-30-06 15 3[...].png

Woah, that thing sold for like a twentieth it's value!

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On 11/22/2019 at 7:23 PM, Mel Fischer said:

Another Mold-Craft king size set with a different Santa circa 1957.

Mel

Mols-Craft King Sizw Reindeer Team (1957) (325).jpg

$ 999.50 for the set in 1957.  Wow!  

According to one website, thats almost 25% of an average annual income. 

Based on the price i cant help but wonder...was this intended for the general public for personal holiday displays?...or is this more of a 'pro' set for businesses? 

I cant see mom and Pop spending that kind of money on a holiday lawn Santa/Reindeer  display.  

House: $10,000
Average income: $4,494
Ford car: $1879-$3408
Milk: $1.00
Gas: $.24
Bread $.19
Postage stamp: $.03
Can of Libby’s peaches, 17 oz.: $ .25
Swanson TV dinner: $.75
Vermont Maid Syrup, 12 oz bottle: $.33

 

https://fiftiesweb.com/pop/prices-1957/

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