Monday, May 31, 2010

Red, white and blue

I’m fairly certain that this plush penguin was given to me at a penguin tree party I had in the 1990s in New Mexico. It’s blue hat and red sweater make it appropriate for posting on an American holiday. It also has a plaid bow tie and two enormous yellow feet. It used to play a Christmas song, when you pressed its left foot, but the music stopped in December 2006. For some reason, I made a note of that, but never wrote down the name of the song it played.

Plush penguin with blue hat and plaid bow tie
Acquired: probably a gift in the 1990s
Number: 0165
Size: 5.5 inches

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deck the igloo

Here’s another igloo and it’s a really good one worth zooming in for the details. My favorite part is the wreath over the door, but I need a closer look at the ornament itself to see if that's another wreath on the ground. It might be extra garland. Either way it’s a nice touch on a sweet little penguin ornament. Here’s another nice touch: flick a switch on the bottom to hear “Let It Snow.” Thanks, Nikki.

Ceramic musical igloo that plays “Let It Snow”
Acquired: around 2000, gift from my niece Nikki Brown
Number: 0157
Size: 2.5 inches tall

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Button baby

This ornament has robot-like button “arms” and legs and an mistakenly penguin-like painted face. The body and head seem to be a wooden industrial thimble, which fits in nicely with the sewing theme. It’s a gift from Betsy Wade, a former colleague at the New York Times, who keeps her eyes open for penguins, whether they are ornaments or not.

Button baby penguin
Acquired: 2001, gift from Betsy Wade
Number 0156
Size: 6 inches tall

Friday, May 28, 2010

Winging it

They can’t fly, but these penguins could go far on their wooden handcars with a little wing action. 
I did a terrible job of assigning numbers to the ornaments from the early years. These two should have been grouped with the other wooden penguin ornaments I bought at Macy’s in the 1980’s. There are a few more misplaced ornaments coming in the days ahead. Click on the Macy's tag below to see some the others.

Two wooden handcars, one red, one green
Acquired: 1980’s Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Number: 0139 0140
Size: 2.625 inches long by 2.125 inches tall

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flattened satin

This is one of several satin ornaments in the collection. It’s feet and beak are made of felt and it’s wearing a knitted scarf. The beady button eyes pinch the head into a distinctive flattened shape.

Satin penguin with yellow felt feet and beak and knitted green and red striped scarf
Acquire: unknown
Number: 134
Size: 4.25 inches tall

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Santa’s helper

I could probably decorate a tree with nothing but penguins wearing Santa Claus hats. It’s a popular theme. Penguins with gifts would be another good theme for a tree. This ornament would qualify for either. I’m thinking about this now because I hope to put up an entry in the Festival of Trees at Scranton’s Trolley Museum this year. They announce a theme every year and I wonder what it will be. This penguin has been around for a long time. You can tell by the wear and tear around the edges and it looks like the color is fading.

White glass penguin with green gift and wearing a Santa hat
Acquired: unknown
Number: 0133
Size: 2.75 inches

Monday, May 24, 2010

Keeping warm

I don’t know if a frayed plaid scarf would be enough to keep me warm in the Antarctic winter, but the hearts make me think someone loves this penguin and that ought to help him get through until spring. The body is wood and the wings are metal. After I saw the photo I realized I have some maintenance work to do on the scarf before Christmas.

Acquired: late 1990s, gift from my sister Xena and brother-in-law John
Number: 0132
Size: 5 inches tall

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Long way from home

I don’t know if the North Pole sign means this penguin is already there or trying to hitch a ride there for Christmas. Either way, it’s a long way from home for this Antarctic resident.

Flat felt penguin with North Pole sign
Acquired: unknown
Number: 0131
Size: 5.5 inches tall

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cookie cutter

This wafer-thin ceramic penguin looks like it was cut out of cookie dough and baked. It’s not totally flat. It curves out in the middle and the wing and tail are bent forward a little bit to create a 3-D effect. The bow is a pasted-on ribbon.

Acquired: unknown
Number: 0130
Size: 3.25 inches tall

Friday, May 21, 2010

Watchful eyes

Beautiful color and detail on both front and back distinguish this ceramic parent penguin guarding its egg between its feet.

Acquired: unknown
Number: 129
Size: 4 inches tall

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Having a ball

Cute, right? Even better, I think it was attached to another gift.

Flat ceramic penguin with a glittery snowball
Number: 0128
Size: 2.75 inches tall

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Christmas classics

These three are beautifully painted the same on both sides, so you always get to see the classic Christmas icons on them: a candy cane, a wreath and string of lights. Zoom in on the photos to get a good look. They’re high up on my imaginary favorites list.

Flat wooden penguins with candy cane, wreath and string of lights.
Acquired: unknown, probably from Macy’s
Number 0125 0126 0127
Size: about 4 inches tall

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Penguins cubed

There are least three things I love about this set of three ceramic skating penguins, each on their own ice cube. One, they’re so darned cute. Two, they were rescued from a yard sale where probably nobody wanted them, especially the one with the broken ice cube. Three, they’re from my friend Barb in New Mexico.

Ceramic ice skaters with wool hats on frosty ice cubes
Acquired: 1990s, gift from Barb Chavez
Number: 0122 0123 0124
Size: 3 to 3.5 inches tall

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Drat that hat!

This penguin seems to be almost smothering or stangling in his enormously long stocking hap. Or maybe it’s just doubling as a cap and a scarf, or maybe protecting him from those big, prickly holly leaves.

Stuffed penguin with enormously long stocking hat and big holly boutonnière
Acquired: unknown
Number: 0121
Size: 4.25 inches tall

Saturday, May 15, 2010


A bold red vest, a spiffy gold hat and a green polka-dot bow tie have this guy ready for some serious celebrating. The candy cane walking stick makes a nice final touch.

The collection grew again today by two, though one of the ornaments is a repeat, after a day trip to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. No pictures yet, but we'll get to them later.

Christopher Radko dressed up penguin
Acquired: 2000, gift from Anne Cronin
Number: 0120
Size: 3.75 inches tall

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Standup guy

This is an ornament that can stand on its own, thanks to those big, chunky wooden feet. It looks like he’d topple over with that gigantic pompom on his wool hat, but the feet more than make up for any imbalance. It’s a gift, I think from my sister Xena.

Rough cut wooden penguin with big feet and red wool hat with huge pompom
Acquired: unknown
Number: 0119

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Key rings

I really have to cut the key rings off these penguins that I’ve been pretending are Christmas tree ornaments. They look good on the tree, but man, those chains are ugly. My nieces Becky and Jenny gave these to me one year.

Two baby blue key rings
Acquired: 1990s
Number: 0117 0118

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Natural wonder

I didn’t do a very good job of photographing this ornament, but I think you can see that it’s a real beauty. It’s one of several that are made of straw or bamboo or some kind of plant. It’s yet another one of my favorites that I can’t remember a thing about how I got it. Baffling.

Straw penguin with bent neck
Acquired: unknown
Number: 0116

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shared obsessions

Ashley over at Decorating Obsessed tipped me off to Hallmark’s sneak peek into their 2010 ornaments. Decorating Obsessed is worth a look if you are interested in anything that has to do with home decorating. Ashley is doing a beautiful job decorating her home and we’re all having fun watching her do it. Best of all: she has a penguin tree! I know there must be others out there, but hers is the first I discovered outside of my own home.
Thanks for the info on Hallmark 2010, Ashley. Now I’m looking forward to Hallmark’s Ornament Premiere Weekend July 10-11, the Ornament Debut Weekend October 9-10, and the Holiday Open House in November, even though I don’t know what they are or how I can take part. There were no penguins among the 12 favorites picked by Hallmark’s artists, but I did a little more snooping and found a preview of the collectible series that each year features three penguins having some sort of holiday fun. The 2010 ornament, called A Fishy Wish, has the threesome hanging Christmas stockings on a fireplace made of ice blocks.
This sea lion balancing a penguin is one of my first Hallmark ornaments. I’ve also received several from the Penguin Posse and I’ve found some old ones in my travels. Once I get through the whole collection we’ll see how many I have, but I think it’s close to enough for at least a small Hallmark tree. And I'm sure I'll be adding the five or six new penguins from Hallmark this year.

Hallmark “Balancing Act” with sea lion and penguin
Acquired: unknown, repaired with glue in December 2006
Number: 0115
Size: 3 inches tall

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother knows best

How do you tell one penguin chick from another? Different colored hats work for this mom. Blue on one side, red on the other. 

Painted flat wood parent with two chicks
Acquired: 1980s, possibly from Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Number: 0114

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This is not a toy

This ornament looks like an old-fashioned metal windup toy, but it’s heavy solid ceramic or plaster. You can see the windup key under its left wing. My sister Xena and my brother-in-law John found it while we were shopping one day and they sneaked it past me and surprised me with it later that evening. It’s Xena’s birthday today. Happy Birthday, sis!

Ceramic “windup toy”
Acquired: 2000 or 2001
Number: 0179

Friday, May 7, 2010


When I was a Jeep Wrangler owner, I was one of the happiest people on the planet. Part of this had to do with living in the Rocky Mountains, but the convergence of these two phases of my life made it almost like heaven. So when I saw a Jeep ornament at the Hallmark store, I had to buy it. It was even the right color. And I found a way to include it on the penguin tree. I turned a tiny penguin ornament into a Jeep driver. He’s been smiling ever since.

Hallmark red Jeep Wrangler ornament
Acquired: after 1994
Number: none assigned

Tiny Jeep driver
Number: 0113

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jumping Jack

I should have made a mini-movie of this one. Maybe when I unpack them again I’ll give it a try. Meanwhile, you can flip back and forth between the two photos to give you an idea how it looks. I’ve got a few other pull-string ornaments ­— a set of three big ones, and another nearly identical pair that I bought years and worlds apart. This one is a standalone, though it came with the other wooden ornaments at the Macy’s shopping spree in the 1980s.

Small wooden pull-string penguin in yellow jacket
Acquired: 1980s, Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Number: 0105

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Santa’s helpers

Here’s a big bunch of ornaments, 11 of them, that I’ve always lumped together because they all seem to be helping Santa Claus get the kids’ gifts ready for delivery. Whoever made them did a nice job of mixing things up with different colored scarves and hats, and by putting different things in the carts. I get a kick out of the wooden soldiers in one cart. It looks like some of them may be stuck in head first. You should click on the stockings and sleighs to zoom in on the train engines. I also like the two penguins wearing gray vests, like they're the toy workshop supervisors. As I was carefully making sure I had all the different varieties of this set, I saw a lonely penguin hanging on Macy’s tree. It wasn’t until much later that I realized this is the same as the penguin on top of the box with bell backboard. He even has a little stub of a peg where the rest of the ornament used to be attached. So I probably got ripped off, but at least this one didn’t end up in the garbage. On an unrelated note, I have no Star Wars penguin ornaments to commemorate the holiday today, but I hope you had a happy Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.

Eleven wooden toy shop ornaments
Acquired: 1980s, Macy’s Herald Square, New York City

Three carts
Number: 0089 0090 0091
Size: 2.5-3.25 inches tall, 3.25-4 inches long

Two boxes with bell and star
Number: 0092 0093
Size: 3.75-4 inches tall

Three sleighs
Number: 0094 0095 0096
Size: 4 inches long

Two stockings
Number: 0097 0098
Size: 3.75-4.25 inches tall

Penguin from bell box ornament
Number: 0099
Size: 2 inches tall

Monday, May 3, 2010

Love boats

I found the missing sailboat pictures! Originally, I had shot them all together in one photo, but you couldn’t see the details very well. So after I had finished all the other photos, I redid these boats. That’s how the photos wound up in the wrong place in my highly organized system of folders for the blog. I’m laughing, not only because of that last hilarious sentence, but because I’m so happy I don’t have to look for these in the large storage tub filled with a couple hundred wooden ornaments. While there are four distinct designs and four separate messages on their heart-shaped sails, I have five boats because the one with the fish and the, um, drum or basket, and — is that a tutu? — came with two different messages: “Noel” and “Peace.” If Macy’s had been smart, they would have made each of the four boats with all four of the messages, and I would have bought sixteen of them instead of five. (Don’t think I wouldn’t. Wait ‘til you see what else I did that day, and then wait ‘til we get to the Chillinz collection.) The rear view is of the “Love” boat. It’s the only way I could show the life preserver in the back. They are an odd bunch, these sailors, dressed in all sorts of ways and doing all sorts of things, but they sure are cute.

Five wooden boats with heart-shaped sails
Acquired: 1980s, Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Size: 2.625 inches tall

Sunday, May 2, 2010

South meets North

The poles converge again with a couple of penguins dressed up Eskimo-style and another one with an Eskimo friend. Click on the photo and zoom in for a closeup of the one with the fish. Of course, the whole idea of penguins as Christmas icons is kind of strange, so we have to allow for some liberties. (Remember the igloos?) These were part of the shopping spree at Macy’s in the 1980s. I just realized today that I’m missing photos of some wooden sailboats that go along with the group. So we’ll have to catch up with them later in the year, unless I get lucky and find them in the top of the wooden ornaments box.

Three wooden Eskimo-themed penguins
Acquired: 1980s, Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Number: 0086 0087 0088
Size: 2.375 to 2.75 inches tall

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ornaments, ornaments

One year in the 1980s Macy’s had a penguin tree with all wooden ornaments in their Christmas decorations department along with their other six or eight themed trees. It seems like I must have some kind of receipt or credit card record around to show the date and price, but I haven’t been able to find it. You’ve already seen one of the ornaments I bought that day, the green wooden airplane, and I’ll be posting the other couple dozen of them in the next few days. These wooden “ornament” ornaments are some of my favorites.

Three wooden ornaments
Acquired: 1980s, Macy’s Herald Square, New York City
Number: 0078 0079 0080
Size: About 3 inches in diameter