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1950s nativity?


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My grandparents have always had this nativity for Christmas. It was originally my great grandparents. This along with a pair of Dapol candles My grandmother saved from there estate. My great grandfather was a very crafty man who would decorate as much as he could with what he had and even made some plywood cutouts. My Grandmother remembers getting this set at a drug store when she was younger and they always had it on there porch for Christmas. It has the early looking empire logo on the back of Mary and Joseph. I assume these where the first figures made because they where never intended to light up. My great grandfather used lamp sockets wired together (probably from some lamps he found) and ran the cords out the homemade base. It sat in my grandfathers workshop for years until we found it around 15 years ago with the original wiring and a wood grain appliance timer hooked to it witch was later updated with modern c7's. I didn't know if anyone on this forum could identify what year this was possibly from?

G&G nativity.PNG

G&G Jesus.PNG

G&G Light.PNG

Edited by Gemmy doge
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Those particular figures were manufactured by Beco in the early 60s.  At the time Beco had 2 sizes of Nativity sets, a smaller set (what you have) and a larger one.  Both were available in either color or plain white to resemble marble statues.  Beco introduced the first true "blow molds" made out of the modern materials for the 1962 Christmas season, 2 caroler Children and a Santa.  Prior to this three dimensional figures such as these would have been molded out of a thick hard latex plastic and too expensive for the public, mainly being sold to department stores and cities.  Additionally, blow molds for home use from before 1962 were usually wall mounted or tabletop and made of a thin, brittle, plastic called cellulite.  The earliest reference I can find to this particular nativity set is in a 1963. Woolworth's advertisement in an Oregon newspaper.  It is possible that Beco originally released it a year earlier in 1962 along with the first blow molds, but I can't find anything to confirm that.  Either way, it is tied with its full-size counterpart as the very first blow mold Nativity set (at least made using the official blow molding process/materials.)  It may not be the rarest thing out there, but its up there! You got something special, and more importantly a family story to go along with it that's priceless.  

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It says Empire on both of them and not Beco. I found a worth point link for a pair that look like them but I don't know if that helps

I dont know if it helps but this looks identical to it. Unfortunately the etsy link no longer works.Empire manger | Etsy

Edited by Gemmy doge
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14 hours ago, Gemmy doge said:

It says Empire on both of them and not Beco. I found a worth point link for a pair that look like them but I don't know if that helps

I dont know if it helps but this looks identical to it. Unfortunately the etsy link no longer works.Empire manger | Etsy

Very interesting.  My records dont show Empire manufacturing that set in those colors until the mid 80s, and even then the colors were much more vibrant.  These are very obviously older.  The biggest mystery here is the baby Jesus.  All the instances I've found of Empire manufacturing him have included a molded manger that looked like it was made of straw with a spot in the middle for him to lie in.  The biggest help here is going to be that nice catalog # on that box - No.1372.  That's going to make this much easier to date.  I've helped as much as my records on my mobile device will allow me, but I'll fire up the old PC and check my CD ROM of old manufacturer catalogs for the catalog #.  In the meantime, check out this site http://www.blow-molded.com/Empire___Nativity_Sets.html and look at Empire's nativity archive.  The only 2 small sets on there were one manufactured from the 70s to 80s in one color scheme, and then again from the 80s to 90s in colors more similar to your set.  This set would predate the first one, meaning Empire was actually offering a small nativity as early as the 60s.  As soon as I have time, I'll check my files.  Good luck!

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8 hours ago, The Blow Mold Expert said:

Very interesting.  My records dont show Empire manufacturing that set in those colors until the mid 80s, and even then the colors were much more vibrant.  These are very obviously older.  The biggest mystery here is the baby Jesus.  All the instances I've found of Empire manufacturing him have included a molded manger that looked like it was made of straw with a spot in the middle for him to lie in.  The biggest help here is going to be that nice catalog # on that box - No.1372.  That's going to make this much easier to date.  I've helped as much as my records on my mobile device will allow me, but I'll fire up the old PC and check my CD ROM of old manufacturer catalogs for the catalog #.  In the meantime, check out this site http://www.blow-molded.com/Empire___Nativity_Sets.html and look at Empire's nativity archive.  The only 2 small sets on there were one manufactured from the 70s to 80s in one color scheme, and then again from the 80s to 90s in colors more similar to your set.  This set would predate the first one, meaning Empire was actually offering a small nativity as early as the 60s.  As soon as I have time, I'll check my files.  Good luck!

Thank you for the amount of time your willing to put towards this. I did some digging and I found a link to a ebay add with a almost identical nativity AND photos of the logos on the back!!. I have a first generation empire giant snowman with wreath that has the same logo. I assume its a first gen because the light plate is huge and made from medal vs the small plastic ones and the plug is a small non polarized one like you would see on a vintage lamp. It says 1961 on the back of it. Don't know if any of this contributes towards the mystery of the nativity but this is what I know.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Empire-Blow-Mold-Nativity-16-Tabletop-Set-W-Orig-Box-Mary-Jesus-/164563492633

Edited by Gemmy doge
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14 hours ago, Gemmy doge said:

Thank you for the amount of time your willing to put towards this. I did some digging and I found a link to a ebay add with a almost identical nativity AND photos of the logos on the back!!. I have a first generation empire giant snowman with wreath that has the same logo. I assume its a first gen because the light plate is huge and made from medal vs the small plastic ones and the plug is a small non polarized one like you would see on a vintage lamp. It says 1961 on the back of it. Don't know if any of this contributes towards the mystery of the nativity but this is what I know.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Empire-Blow-Mold-Nativity-16-Tabletop-Set-W-Orig-Box-Mary-Jesus-/164563492633

Don't mention it, glad to be of help!  You're right with that being the first gen Empire logo used from the 60s to mid 80s.  The snowman should say 1967, not 1961 as the modern blow molding process used to make it wouldn't have been common practice yet and I believe the snowman came out in 1967.  The numbers on older Empire products are hard to read.

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7 hours ago, The Blow Mold Expert said:

Don't mention it, glad to be of help!  You're right with that being the first gen Empire logo used from the 60s to mid 80s.  The snowman should say 1967, not 1961 as the modern blow molding process used to make it wouldn't have been common practice yet and I believe the snowman came out in 1967.  The numbers on older Empire products are hard to read.

Yeah I could see that. I was going to make a post about a pair of snowmen I got from a hoarders yard sale lol. To make the long spiral story short I had previously known the family when I serviced their TV. They where elderly and the house was never updated from the 70s. Furniture, light fixtures and you name it was all the same. I never thought much about them until a few months back when I saw a sale they where having. The type where you make an offer on what you could pull out of a 3 car garage that was filled with junk. Apon arrival I spoke with a younger gentleman and his crew as to where the old couple was at and I was told the husband passed away and the children put there mom into a retirement home. They sold the house for little to nothing and left everything inside. The house was rundown and the lawn was severely overgrown. I could make out on the FB post a blow mold snowman inside of the garage and to my surprise there was 2 of them! After showing him what I was able to dig out he said that he would take $6 for the pair. So now there in my collection. Nether of them look like they where ever used outside. There was some pumpkin candy holders and a set of snowman pathway markers but at that point his workers started taking snow shovels worth of items to a roll off because of how much stuff was in the garage.

image.png.52d281f197dd0077d0e9e9ead07006ff.png

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On 1/3/2021 at 11:37 PM, Gemmy doge said:

Yeah I could see that. I was going to make a post about a pair of snowmen I got from a hoarders yard sale lol. To make the long spiral story short I had previously known the family when I serviced their TV. They where elderly and the house was never updated from the 70s. Furniture, light fixtures and you name it was all the same. I never thought much about them until a few months back when I saw a sale they where having. The type where you make an offer on what you could pull out of a 3 car garage that was filled with junk. Apon arrival I spoke with a younger gentleman and his crew as to where the old couple was at and I was told the husband passed away and the children put there mom into a retirement home. They sold the house for little to nothing and left everything inside. The house was rundown and the lawn was severely overgrown. I could make out on the FB post a blow mold snowman inside of the garage and to my surprise there was 2 of them! After showing him what I was able to dig out he said that he would take $6 for the pair. So now there in my collection. Nether of them look like they where ever used outside. There was some pumpkin candy holders and a set of snowman pathway markers but at that point his workers started taking snow shovels worth of items to a roll off because of how much stuff was in the garage.

image.png.52d281f197dd0077d0e9e9ead07006ff.png

Can't get a better deal than that!  The Empire snowman is one of my all-time favorite designs.

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Your Nativity set looks to have been made in the 1960's.  I do not have information prior to 1966 but the #1372 Nativity set is shown in the Judith Novelty Sales catalogs that I have access to from 1966 through 1968 and possibly before those years.  They changed the crib to the straw style that Andrew described above in 1969.  Up through 1967 they sold it as an unlighted set, in 1968 they sold it unlighted as #1372 and as "#1373 Same as #1372 with C7 spot light, bulb & wire. UL listed."  (Catalog description)    The Empire #1372 & #1373 sets are shown as 18" 4 piece Nativity sets.  In 1969 Mary and Joseph were "electrified with C7 electrics" (Catalog description)

Mel

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