Saturday, July 31, 2010

Montreal through the years

Both of these ornaments have the same design that says, “Joyeux Noël Eternel, Montreal” on one side. They have different penguins painted on the opposite side. One has a single penguin with pink hat and the other shows a family of three. The one I bought in 2009 has the year on the penguin side and one from 2006 has the year on the other side. It was nice to see that the price hadn’t changed in the time between them, but I'll bet the exchange rate was different each time.

2006 porcelain Noël Eternel icicle-like ornament with penguin family of three
Acquired: July 1, 2006, Noël Eternel, Montreal, PQ
Number: 0295
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: 9.99 $CAN

2009  porcelain Noël Eternel icicle-like ornament with single penguin in a pink hat
Acquired: September 11, 2009, Noël Eternel, Montreal, PG
Number: 0710
Size: 4 inches tall
Price:9.99 $CAN

Friday, July 30, 2010

It’s raining penguins

There’s a whole lot of fun packed into these three penguins with their colorful umbrellas. The one in the upside down umbrella is attached, but for the other two, you hang the umbrella on the Christmas tree and then hang the penguins from the umbrella handles.

Three penguins with umbrellas
Acquired: Noël Eternel, Montreal, PQ
Number: 0292 0293 0294
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: each 19.98 $CAN 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Polar bear express

What’s a flightless bird to do when he has to get somewhere fast? Why, just find a winged polar bear and you’re on your way. It’s a wonder this ornament ever made it to the tree. The bear’s right forepaw broke during the trip from Montreal to New Jersey. Then I nearly destroyed it and myself when I fell on it from the back of my couch while reaching to hang some decorations. The bear’s wings had to be glued back together and every year I have to reattach a feather or two.

Krinkl Xmas penguin on a flying polar bear with gold crowns
Acquired: July 1, 2006, Noël Eternel, Montreal, PQ
Number: 0291
Size: 3.5 inches long
Price: 15.99 $CAN

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Loud and clear

Here we have a couple of musicians, one with a saxophone and one with a drum, and a gentleman with a top hat and cane who might be the conductor. I wonder if I’m missing any other musicians from band. Those are very nice snowflake-like sound effects coming out of the horn and drum.

Clear acrylic musicians and gentleman with top hat and cane
Acquired: March 2006, Noël Eternel, Montreal, PQ
Number: 0287 0288 0289
Size: 2.25-2.5 inches tall

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Does it count?

I was on my almost yearly ski trip to Stowe, Vt., and stopped to see what I might find at the Christmas Loft. The store is gone now, but it was a regular stop for years. On this trip I didn’t see any penguin ornaments right away. One of the store clerks asked me if I was looking for anything particular. “Penguins,” I said. “Do you have any penguin ornaments?” She led me to the back of the store muttering, “Penguins, penguins.” Then she took this ornament from the wall, held it up for me to see and asked, ”Does this one count?” There was another ornament, which turned out to be a duplicate, but this one made the stop at the Christmas Loft worthwhile.

Krinkl Xmas Eve Mini penguins on a star-shaped sleigh with clown-like snowman holding an umbrella
Acquired: Feb. 3, 2006, Christmas Loft, Stowe, Vt.
Number: 285
Size: 2.75 inches tall
Price: $8.50

Monday, July 26, 2010

A symbol of Christmas

It makes sense that a cardinal would become a symbol of Christmas because of the male’s bight red feathers, but I never thought about it until I started seeing ornaments like this one. It’s hard to make out, but the plastic blob on the penguin’s hat is a tiny cardinal. The bird is named for the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear bright red robes. Cardinals (the birds) don’t migrate, so they can be seen throughout their range around Christmas time, even in the cold and snowy northeast. You might even run into one on an expedition into the woods to find a Christmas tree, which might be where this penguin is headed, bundled up in a red sweater and hat and a green sweater. That’s a birdhouse in the penguin’s left wing.

Plastic penguin with hinged brown feet and wings holding birdhouse
Acquired: Dec. 21, 2005, Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, New York City
Number: 0283
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $12

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Snowball and Tuxedo

Tuxedo the penguin and Snowball the polar bear have been hanging out for 10 years now in a Hallmark Keepsake ornament series by the artist Joanne Eschrich. I bought No. 4 in the series, called Fancy Footwork, at a store close to where I was living in Middletown, N.J. I don’t think I was aware that it was part of a series then, and I don’t remember seeing any of the others until a couple of weeks ago when Hallmark introduced a number of the new ornaments for 2010. One of the new offerings is a special 10th anniversary edition of Snowball and Tuxedo, and they also have a regular 10th-in-a-series rendition of the bipolar pals cutting out snowflakes, paper doll style. I suspect the Hallmark series ornaments get snapped up quickly by collectors and that’s why I don’t have any of the others. I know I could probably find the rest online, but I’d rather see if I can stumble upon them in my travels.

Fancy Footwork, No. 4 in Snowball and Tuxedo Hallmark Keepsake series
Acquired: Dec.21, 2005, Sunray Drugs, Middletown, N.J.
Number: 0277
Size: 3.25 inches tall
Price: $7.95

Ten Terrific Years, Snowball and Tuxedo special edition 2010 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Premiere
Acquired: July 7, 2010, Jay’s Hallmark, Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City
Number: 0778
Size: 2.5 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Snowflakes With Style, No. 10 in Snowball and Tuxedo Hallmark Keepsake series
Acquired: July 11, 2010, Jill's Hallmark, Broadheadsville, Pa.
Number: 0783
Size: 2.5 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Saturday, July 24, 2010


O.K., I like the Hallmark ornaments, and I’m glad they continue to offer multiple penguin ornaments every year, but this one is special. It looks like just another roly-poly penguin figurine, and a fine ornament on its own, but pop the head off and you find a surprise inside. It’s a mini cookie jar and inside there are three tiny fish cookies (“Yum,” say the penguins!). The cookies are also ornaments, each with a string for hanging on the tree. I got lucky. This was the last one of its kind in the store. Yeah, I think it’s my favorite. My favorite Hallmark, that is.

Surprise Inside Hallmark Keepsake penguin cookie jar with three fish cookies inside
Acquired: Dec. 21, 2005, Hallmark card shop, 7th Avenue, New York City
Number: 281
Size: 3.75 inches tall
Price: $9.99

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mini racers

These three tiny penguins are a Hallmark Keepsake Miniatures set from a few years ago. One is on a sled, one on a toboggan and the other on a saucer. I didn’t have to position them to look they are racing downhill. They really hang that way, a nice touch from Kristina Kline, the Hallmark artist. The Hallmark store was on my way from Penn Station to Times Square when I used to commute to work by train, but I think the store is closed now. I picked up a couple other Hallmark ornaments that you’ll see in the next two posts.

Penguin Races, Hallmark Keepsake Miniatures
Acquired: December 21, 2005, Hallmark store, 7th Avenue, New York
Number: 0278 0279 0280
Size: each about 1 inch long

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Same time, same place

These two ornaments are not part of a matched set, but I bought them together at the Holiday Gift Festival at Grand Central Terminal one year. They came in a “buy two, get one free” deal, but there were only two penguins. The third ornament was a nativity scene in the same flat cookie cutter style, and I gave to my brother and sister-in-law.

Carolyn Jordan Selections 2005 ceramic cookie cutter style penguin couple
Acquired: December 12, 2005, Grand Central Terminal Holiday Market
Number: 275
Size: about 3.5 inches tall
Price: 3 for $15

Carolyn Jordan Selections ceramic penguin ornament with holly and red ribbon bow tie
Acquired: December 12, 2005, Grand Central Terminal Holiday Market
Number: 276
Size: about 3.5 inches tall
Price: 3 for $15

Information updated July 23, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Knitted scarf

It’s a good thing I started keeping track of the penguin ornaments because I have no recollection of buying this one. It actually came from one of my favorite Christmas stores, the little Christmas Cottage in midtown Manhattan. They always have interesting ornaments, including a lot with New York City themes. I check in once or twice a year when I’m in that neighborhood and almost always come out with a penguin or two. I even found a string of penguin lights there, actually two of them, which I had been trying to find for a few years. Anyway, this is a cool little plush penguin with a nice knitted scarf.
Plush penguin with black beak, maroon knitted scarf and red earmuffs
Acquired: December 9, 2005, Christmas Cottage, 7th Avenue and 55th Street, New York City
Number: 274
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $14.03

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The survivor

I bought two fantastic Waterford ornaments at Lord & Taylor. This one on a sleigh has what looks like a pineapple painted on its belly. I didn’t take a photo of the other one, because it lies shattered in its box, one of four ornaments that I’ve had to retire. However, I did find a small photo online to show what it looks like. A couple of years ago, I heard a little pop in the other room where I had my Christmas tree. I went to look and found a tiny pile of glass fragments on the carpet and a hole in one corner of the ornament. This is not the only time I’ve had a glass ornament explode, but usually it’s just a tiny hole. I was able to hang the broken ornament the following year, but last year even more had broken while it was in storage. This year, I have the delicate ornaments stored inside the house, but I’m afraid that this is the eventual fate of all blown glass ornaments.

Waterford sledding pineapple penguin
Acquired: November 26, 2005, Lord & Taylor, New York City
Number: 0272
Size: 5.25 inches tall
Price: $45

Waterford penguin couple with leafy bellies and green and magenta hats
Acquired: November 26, 2005, Lord & Taylor, New York City
Number: 0273 (retired)
Price: $45

Monday, July 19, 2010

Guilty pleasure

It was an innocent enough idea. At a small family gathering in New York, someone suggested we go look at the Christmas windows. Lord & Taylor, which does just about everything well, has some of the best. Of course, once we got there, we had to go inside to look around. A stop at the Christmas decorations department turned out to be an expensive one for me. In addition to the Czech ornament posted yesterday, I also found this beautiful Christopher Radko snowman with a skating penguin and a couple of glass Waterford ornaments, which I’ll talk about tomorrow. I would have waited for the post-holiday markdowns, but I was afraid I might miss out. Also I didn’t know if I’d make it back to Lord & Taylor in time. I don’t like spending so much on myself before Christmas, but I also found some clothes on sale that I really needed and also picked up a couple of gifts for other people, which made me feel a little less guilty.

Crystal Bright by Radko snowman and skating penguin
Acquired: November, 26, 2005, Lord & Taylor, New York City
Number: 0271
Size: 5.25 inches tall
Price: $25

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fuzzy, wuz ‘e?

This blown glass ornament is coated with black and white flocking except for the face which has black painted circles for eyes and a red painted beak. The green felt scarf is neatly tied around its neck. Simplicity goes a long way in this elegant little ornament.

Bowling pin shaped flocked penguin with pointed red beak and green felt scarf, made in Czech Republic
Acquired: November 26, 2005, Lord & Taylor, New York City
Number: 0270
Size: 4.25 inches tall
Price: $14

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In and out of Africa

A lot of my penguin ornaments are from my travels. This way, I add to the collection and get a unique souvenir of the trip, a win-win situation. When I had the opportunity to visit Ghana a few years ago as the guest of my friend and colleague Lee Frempong, I didn’t expect to find any penguins. So when I saw the top ornament at a gift shop at JFK airport on my to Africa, I took it as a sign that I wouldn’t have to worry the rest of the trip about trying to find one. Not that I needed anything extra to remember the amazing journey. Walking high in the rain forest canopy on rope bridges, visiting the somber dungeons where captives were shipped off to the slave markets of America, witnessing the coronation of a local king, the lively music, the spicy food, the fascinating people — every part of the trip is a vivid memory. I even met the 105-year-old mother of my host, the daughter of a king, who said she would be my mother when she found out mine had passed away. At the airport in Accra on my way home I found the bottom penguin, not really a tree ornament, but a fitting bookend to complete an unforgettable adventure.

Ty beanie penguin with red and green striped hat and furry green scarf
Acquired: July 29, 2005, Hudson News, JFK International Airport, New York
Number: 0268
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $5.36

“Penkie” Russ Co. stuffed terry penguin with plaid scarf
Acquired: August 2005, duty free store, Accra International Airport, Ghana
Number: 0269
Size: 6 inches tall
Price: $9.75 (U.S.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Penguins behind the glass

Penguins have a home far from the South Pole at the Biodome de Montreal, a natural science museum near Olympic Stadium. The Biodome should not be confused with the Biosphere, the geodesic dome that was part of the world’s fair Expo 67. The penguins live in a frosty environment that includes a big swimming tank. All of it is behind glass so visitors can see the penguins above and below the water. The ornament came from the Biodome gift shop.

Biodome de Montreal penguins in a clear plastic globe
Acquired: March 6, 2005, Boutique du Biodome, Montreal, P.Q.
Size: 2.5 inches diameter
Price: 6.99 $CAN

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How much does this sleigh weigh?

This ornament with two penguins bundled in a toy-laden sleigh is a Christopher Radko design, but it’s not the usual delicate blown glass. Instead, it’s ceramic and it weighs a ton. I always have to find a sturdy branch for it. You can see a lot of the cool Radko details, like the snow wake and those rosy cheeks. There must be other examples of Celebrations by Radko penguin ornaments, but this is the only one I’ve ever seen, live or online.

Holiday Celebrations by Radko for Target penguins in a sleigh
Acquired: December 2004, Target, Middletown, N.J.
Number: 0266
Size: 3.5” tall

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Star power

With so many penguin ornaments it’s difficult to pick a favorite, but this little glass penguin would be near the top of the list. It’s brightly colored and covered with black glittery feathers and it clutches a big upside down gold star close to its body. He has a sad little expression on his face that is priceless. It was a gift from John and Del Galietti, my brother-in-law’s parents.

Glass penguin with big gold star
Acquired: December 2004
Number: 265
Size: 3.25 inches

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A familiar name

This one’s got a unique star shape, the year, “New York,” a penguin with a heart and the artist’s signature etched in the clay on the bottom right point. I should have bought one for my sister, Gale West, who has the same name with a different spelling.

New York 2004 penguin on a brown clay star by artist Gail West
Acquired: December 17, 2004, Christmas Cottage, New York City
Number: 262
Size: 4.25 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Monday, July 12, 2010

Joy, oh joy

Joy is exactly what I felt when I found this ornament at the Grand Central Holiday Market in New York. A few weeks before, I was in Alice Springs, Australia, about as far away from anywhere as you can get, when I saw the same ornament at a gift shop. I liked the ornament a lot and I almost bought it then, but it was missing one of the letters and I think the wire garland was broken. Besides, I already had an excellent souvenir penguin ornament, the Alice Springs angel, from another shop down the street. I always regret it when I leave an ornament behind and this time was no exception. So, to find the again halfway around the world a few weeks later, with all its parts intact, made my day. As a bonus, it came with a matching partner, the heart-wreath skater from the Feb. 14 post and it looks like a got a little discount for buying them together.

Joy penguin
Acquired: December 2004, Grand Central Terminal Holiday Market, New York City
Number: 260
Size: 3.75 inches tall
Price: $12.50 (two for $25)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Winnie and Penny

I don’t remember a penguin when I read Winnie the Pooh stories as a child, but thanks to our friends at Disney, we get a frosty Winnie and a penguin friend together in one ornament. Poor Pooh’s ears snapped off. I was able to find one of them last year and glued it back on. If you click on the picture, you can see what a lousy job I did. I’m still hoping the other ear is somewhere in the packing material I use to store the ornaments.

Frosty Winnie the Pooh and a penguin pal
Acquired: December 2004, Downtown Disney, Anaheim, Calif.
Number: 258 (number corrected July 12, 2010
Size: 3.75 inches tall

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christmas in July

They’re here, the 2010 Hallmark Keepsake ornaments. This weekend is Hallmark’s Ornament Premiere when they introduce a big part of their offerings for the year, and they always have some penguins. They’ll make others available in October and November. This is the first time I’ve ever gone to a Hallmark premiere. I usually wait until after Christmas to get the discounts, but I know I’ve missed out on some of the sold out penguins this way. I never knew Hallmark staged “events” like this until a few months ago, so I thought it might be a good idea to check it out. Also I had a discount card worth $10 (IF I spent $50, lol). The store I went to today, Jill’s Hallmark in Broadheadsville, Pa., was fairly busy with collectors filling shopping baskets with the new ornaments. It looked like some were already sold out, including a limited edition ornament celebrating 10 years of the Snowball and Tuxedo series that features a penguin and his snowman pal. But lucky for me, I decided to check out one my regular Christmas stops, Jay’s Hallmark in New York, which had the ornament and another limited edition called “Snow Many Penguins.” That’s the one I’m featuring today. I was able to buy the other five new penguins at Jill’s in Pennsylvania, but I probably won’t take photos until later in the year. If you want to see all of Hallmark’s offerings, you can go to their website or to their Dreambook catalog. I also found a couple of other penguin ornaments from previous years on a 75 percent off clearance shelf, which made me feel a little bit better about buying the others at full price. In the non-ornament, non-Christmas category, I couldn’t pass up a pair of eggplant penguins that caught my eye. I think I did the right thing.

Snow Many Penguins, Hallmark Keepsake limited edition 2010 ornament
Acquired: July 7, 2010, Jay’s Hallmark, New York
Size: 3.5 inches in diameter
Number: 779
Price: $9.95

Home Grown by Enesco eggplant penguin figurines (not a Christmas ornament)
Acquired: July 10, 2010, Jill’s Hallmark, Broadheadsville, Pa.
Size: abour 4 inches tall
Price: $12.49

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tigers and Blue Jays and Penguins. Oh, my!

I was driving from Detroit to Toronto when I found this key ring at a gas station in Ontario, Canada. I was on a trip around Lake Erie, also stopping in Cleveland, to see baseball games in my quest to visit all the major league stadiums. I finished that collection a few years later (though now I’m missing the new ballpark in Minneapolis), but the penguin ornament collection shows no signs of letting up. This penguin is another key ring that I decided was close enough for me to put it on the tree.

Canada key ring
Acquired: June 12, 2004, Ontario, Canada gas station
Number: 247
Size: 4 inches tall

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy feet

This ornament represents why I keep going to Christmas shops. You never know what kind of surprise is waiting for you inside. It makes me happy just to look at this little plush penguin with its dangling legs and big bootie-like feet.

Grey plush penguin with shoestring legs and big orange feet
Acquired: April 3, 2010, The Christmas Mouse, Williamsburg, Va.
Number: 244
Size: 6 inches tall
Price: $4.50

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Similar stripes

These two aren’t part of a matched set, but they have a lot in common, so I’m posting them together. Both are clear acrylic and both are ready to slide downhill on a sled and skis decorated with candy cane stripes. I bought them the same day in the same store. I think it’s odd that I didn’t assign them consecutive numbers, but when you buy a dozen ornaments at once it’s hard to figure out which came first. I have two other similar ski ornaments that you can read about here.

Candy cane skier
Acquired: April, 3, 2004, The Christmas Mouse, Williamsburg, Va.
Number: 243
Size: 5 inches tall
Price: $7

Candy cane sledder
Acquired: April, 3, 2004, The Christmas Mouse, Williamsburg, Va.
Number: 245
Size: 2 inches tall, 3 inches long
Price: $4.50

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Missing skier

At first glance, these look like two identical penguin ornament sets, except that one is missing the skier. Zoom in though, and you might be able to make out that the set on top is kind of flat while the one on the bottom has full-bodied penguins. You can also see a lot of nice detail on both sets: one has a tree and songbook, one is carrying skis, one holds a sign that says “Merry Christmas,” and one has a lantern and a pouch. I don’t know if the penguin ornament manufacturers think some people prefer flattish Christmas ornaments to the well-rounded variety, or if they think they’ll sell more ornaments this way to people like me. I think the latter. If they make it, I will buy it. Here’s how bad it is. I went to both, yes, both Christmas Mouse stores in Williamsburg, Va., hoping that the second one might have the missing skier to go with the partial set I bought at the first one.

Set of three flattish carolers
Numbers: 0236 0237 0238
Set of four 3-D carolers
Numbers: 0239 0240 0241 0242
Acquired: April 3, 2004, The Christmas Mouse, Williamsburg, Va.
Size: about 2.5 inches tall
Price: $2.50 each piece

Monday, July 5, 2010

All the trimmings

This glass penguin is decked out for the holidays with a red top hat, green bow tie and red striped vest.

Acquired: April 3, 2010, Bassett’s Christmas Shop, Williamsburg, Va.
Number: 0235
Size: 3 inches tall
Price: $3

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Twice as nice

These two look good enough to eat. So good, in fact, that I bought two of them on separate occasions. I tried to convince myself that the second one was colored differently, but they are identical. The first one came from Williamsburg, Va., where I had made a detour on a driving trip from New Jersey to Florida. It was around Easter and the traffic on I-95 was bumper to bumper from Washington, D.C., to Daytona Beach, Fla., so I decided to stop for the night, and then take a longer slower route south the next day. My intention was to see historic Williamsburg, then head to Kitty Hawk, N.C., to visit the Century of Flight exhibit at the Wright Brothers National Monument. Instead I spent most of the day in three Christmas shops. By the time I got back to I-95, it was late and there were no motel rooms available, so I slept in my car at a rest area in South Carolina along with a lot of other drivers who were in the same predicament. It wasn’t so bad. That night I went to sleep in the driver’s seat with visions of Sugar Plum Penguins dancing in my head.

Sugary glass penguins with candy colored accents
Acquired: 1. April 3, 2004, Bassett’s Christmas Shop, Williamsburg, Va.
2. Sept. 28, 2008, Christmas Rocks, Houston, Texas
Number: 0234 0497
Size: about 2.5 inches tall
Price: $6.50, $5.75 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Worth the wait

I knew this penguin was coming long before it joined the collection. My friend David Belcher had bought it and told me about it a few years before he finally gave it to me. It was a busy time for both of us, and when our paths crossed, it was usually unplanned and unexpected.  For example, once during a layover on my way to the Greek islands, we had a chance to catch up with each other at the Athens airport, of all places, because he had a short flight delay going the other way on his journey home. Well, the penguin made it to me a few years after that surprise encounter and it’s been a happy addition to my penguin tree ever since.

Stuffed penguin with tall Santa hat, red scarf with green trim, red mittens and big blue googly eyes
Acquired: 2004
Number: 231
Size: 9.25 inches

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bad hair day

Are penguins cute because they’re funny or are they funny because they are cute? Maybe it depends on the penguin. This one has funny “hair,” funny eyes, a funny beak and a funny body. Even the star badge on the plaid scarf is funny. Add all that funniness together and you come up with a whole lot of cute.

Funny felt penguin with fuzzy “hair” feathers, plaid scarf and gold star badge
Acquired: December 2003, gift from brother Drew and sister-in-law Sandy and my nieces, Becky and Jenny.
Number: 229
Size: 5.25 inches tall

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Special guest

Except for the colorful beak, this puffin could easily be mistaken for a penguin. Puffins are a type of auk, and auks were sometimes called penguins. When European explorers encountered flightless auk-like birds in the southern hemisphere, they used the familiar name to describe them and it stuck. But puffins and auks are not very closely related to penguins in the evolutionary scheme of things. It just happens that there is a natural niche for black and white critters filled by the lookalike birds in their respective neighborhoods. And lookalike is enough for me to keep the puffin on the penguin tree. It was a gift from my brother-in-law John and sister Xena, who found it on an adventure in Nova Scotia, which gives it two more bonus points. And on top of everything, it’s an irresistibly cute ornament in that tangle of Christmas lights, so there’s no way I could say “no” to the puffin.

Acquired: December 2003, gift from John and Xena Galietti
Number: 228