By Rachelle Burkett-Rodarte
What would Christmas be without love? Everybody who loves Christmas has their own special something that is dear to their hearts. Many Christmas lovers may not realize that there are large collector clubs that collect Christmas villages, especially Department 56 villages. That includes my Christmas Dickens Village based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Many village collectors have a large collection and display their village year round. I too keep my Dickens Village displayed all year. Keeping the village on display keeps the Christmas Spirit and love in my heart all the year. Just passing by the village makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.
Every collector knows the value of Department 56 villages. Many collections are worth thousands of dollars. Individual houses can be valued into the hundreds of dollars. The Dickens Village that I collect is one of fourteen different style villages with new styles being added all the time.
The first village was the Original Snow Village, Christmas in the City, Alpine Village and the New England Village soon followed. New villages are added all the time, like Frozen, Grinch and a Frost Village that shimmers with iridescent crystals. The Snow Babies are part of Department 56 but are figurines of little children dressed in snow suits. There are different styles for every taste, even a village for Halloween lovers.
Department 56 villages are the more favored on the market because of their extreme attention to detail. A great deal of planning goes into the production of each village house. A highly skilled artist painstakingly draws out each house from all sides. They are sculpted in clay to make molds that eventually are cast into the loved village houses. Glazing and firing are followed by rigorous examination of experts. Even the packaging is specially made for each house. Packaging in good condition adds to the value of the house.
Department 56 village collectors are very dedicated to their collecting. Purist will only collect a specific Christmas village with accessories that are appropriate for that individual village. Other collectors mix and match, choosing what ever pieces they love best. I treasure childhood memories of looking into store windows as a child to see the village displays. I was given my first pieces as a wedding present and cherish each one. Collectors travel great distances to find that special house to add to their collection. Each year Department 56 retires village pieces that are never produced again. Collectors race to attain them.
There are collector clubs all over America and Canada. If you’re interested in starting a collection of village houses, go to The Incredible Christmas Place on the Parkway at light 2A, the Christmas and Collectibles store in Pigeon Forge, The Christmas Store, also on the Parkway and The Great Christmas Shop in Sevierville, Santa’s Claus-et in Gatlinburg, to name a few in our area. Some high-end department stores will also carry them.