Sunday, October 31, 2010

It’s always nice to have a spare

Here is an ornament that’s a duplicate of another one that I had to retire because of breakage. The original broke before it ever made it onto a tree, either during transportation from the store or in storage.

Nobel Gems by Kurt Adler grinning glittery parent and chick
Acquired: June 7, 2008, Christmas Factory, Marshall’s Creek, Pa.
Number: 472
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $9

Duplicate with broken wing tip
Acquired: July 21, 2007, Christmas Cottage, New York, N.Y.
Number: 365, retired 2009
Price: $12.95

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pittsburgh penguin penguin

I thought I had found the ultimate penguin ornament when I bought the Jordan Staal Pittsburgh Penguin ornament on my way west toward Nebraska. On the way home, however, I stopped at a rest area near Pittsburgh and found this penguin wearing a Pittsburgh Penguin sweater. Topperscott offers a different ornament each year that can be attired in whatever team you want. Sometimes it’s a snowman. Sometimes it’s just a round bulb. This year, the stars aligned and made it possible to dress a penguin up as a Penguin.

Topperscott Pittsburgh Penguin penguin
Acquired: May 18, 2008, Cinnabon/Gift Shop, Pennsylvania Turnpike, Somerset, Pa.
Number: 471
Size: 5 inches tall

Friday, October 29, 2010

Enormous candy cane

This penguin nestled in the crook of a large candy cane came from The Flower Petaler in the historic village of St. Charles, Mo., near St. Louis. I was going to an afternoon baseball game at the Cardinals’ new stadium, so I showed up at the store early in the morning. The store wasn’t open yet, but let me in to poke around. You had to enter the Christmas shop through a florist shop that smelled just like all the flower shops where my mother worked when I was growing up. It was the most orderly Christmas shop I’ve ever been in. All the walls were divided into equal-sized pigeon holes, and each pigeon hole had one ornament hanging in it. They didn’t have a lot of penguins, but I was happy to find this very nice one.

Merck Family’s Old World Christmas glass penguin with a huge, glittery candy cane
Acquired: May 17, 2008, The Flower Petaler, St. Charles, Mo.
Number: 0470
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: $7.99

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I wouldn’t have expected to find a penguin ornament in Lincoln, Neb., and certainly not in a store called The Nebraska Shop. But a local artist named Bert Anderson created a menagerie of cartoon-like ornaments including this penguin.

Bert Anderson Collection penguin with rope legs
Acquired: May 16, 2008, The Nebraska Shop, Lincoln, Neb.
Number: 0469
Price: $7.99

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


There’s a whole collection of these smores ornaments. I think most of them involve a marshmallow snowman. So far, this is the only one I’ve seen with penguins. It makes me hungry. I want s’more.

Acquired: May 15, 2008, Holiday Magic, Kansas City, Mo.
Number: 0468
Size: 2.5 inches tall
Price: $6.95

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old world style

Here is just another fine ornament from the people at Merck Family Old World Christmas — a well-dressed gentleman penguin in red and green, covered head to toe in a glittery frosting.

Acquired: May 15, 2008, Holiday Magic, Kansas City, Mo.
Number: 0467
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $11.99

Monday, October 25, 2010

Loving family

One thing nice about having two of these ornaments is that I can show you the front and the back in one photo. How about those embracing wings in the back? This is another example of having so many ornaments that I forget which ones I’ve already bought. Now, I can look at the blog when I’m not sure. In fact, I saw an ornament the other day that looks something like the big-footed penguin I posted Oct. 1, but I can see now that it’s different enough for me to buy it next time I’m back at that store.

Embracing parents with penguin chick
Acquired: May 15, 2008, Holiday Magic, Kansas City, Mo.
Number: 0466
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $12.95

Duplicate of No. 466
Acquired: Dec. 26, 2008, Christmas Loft, Stowe, Vt.
Number: 0601
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $8.99

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bearing gifts

These two penguins each have a bag full of gifts, one over the shoulder and the other on the ground. Both have a lot of distinctive detail, like the holly trim on one of the hats. They are part of a mini bonanza of ornaments I found at a shop in a downtown mall in Kansas City during one of my baseball trips. I saw games at four new stadiums and found penguin ornaments in every city I visited.

Acquired: May 15, 2008, Holiday Magic, Kansas City, Mo.
Number: 0464 0465
Size: 4 to 4.25 inches tall
Price: $7.95 each

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wrong year

I have a number of ornaments that are inscribed with the year I bought them, but this one found it’s way to a clearance table where it languished for about five years until I found it. I was on my home from a trip to Montreal and had to stop at a souvenir shop for a rest room break. Once inside, I decided to snoop around just in case there were any Christmas ornaments. There were only a few and this was the only penguin. He resembles another ornament that I posted so long ago, also an Old World Christmas creation. Zoom in and you’ll see the OWC mark on the metal hanging cap.

2003 candy cane toboggan, lots of glitter and a long flowing gold and purple scarf
Acquired: April 20, 2008, Country Kettle Gift and Candy Outlet, East Stroudsburg, Pa.
Number: 0461
Size: 3.25 inches tall           
Price: $9.95

Friday, October 22, 2010

International set

These four Santa penguins came from two different places. One you can see is from Montreal and the fantastic Noël Eternel store. The other three I found in Christmas Rocks, another excellent Christmas store, when I was in Houston later the same year. Each of these glass ornaments is unique, but it seems like there are three basic poses. The Montreal penguin and the top penguin are the same style, but you can see small differences in the hat and in the yellow breast feathers. I’m a little worried that the inscription on the Montreal ornament is rubbing off, but at least it will always be here on My Penguin Tree.

Montreal glass penguin with Santa hat
Acquired: April 19, 2008, Noël Eternel, Montreal, PQ
Number: 0460
Size: 3 inches tall
Price: 10.99 $CAN

Three glass penguins with Santa hats
Acquired: Sept. 27, 2008, Christmas Rocks, Houston, Texas
Number: 0505 0506 0507
Size: 3 inches tall
Price: $7.25 each

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Black and white, and red all over

This is a really nice set of two-sided ornaments with a lot of detail on the front and back. It’s an odd collection of characters: a pair of formally attired ballroom dancers, an ice skater and a sign painter. I’m trying to imagine a story that would tie them all together. Two dancers and skater came from a visit to Montreal, while the painter came a year later when I was in Rehoboth Beach, Del. It makes me wonder if this might be a series of ornaments with a new design each year.

Red and black formal dancers and skater
Acquired: April 19, 2008, Noël Eternel, Montreal PQ
Number: 0458 0459
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: 7.99 $CAN

Red and black painter with North Pole sign
Acquired: July 29, 2009, Christmas Spirit, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Number: 0694
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: $5.50

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


These two cutaway globes feature vignettes of a family of three penguins inside one ornament and a parent and child in the other. I don’t know if they are ceramic or plaster, but they each weigh a ton. The outside of the balls are nicely decorated with glitter and snowflakes.

Two heavy snowballs with penguin family scenes inside
Acquired: April 2, 2008, A Christmas Place, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Number: 0456 0457
Size: 3 inches diameter
Price: $6 each

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blue beauty

This glittery blue penguin accented with diamond rhinestones came from a great Christmas store near where I used to live years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. I had found the place in the yellow pages while I was visiting relatives. By the time I was ready to check out I had a whole shopping basket full of penguins. I asked how long the store had been there, thinking it must be a new place. “About 35 years,” the clerk told me. I couldn’t believe it. I had probably driven by the place hundreds of times and never noticed it and I even went several times to another store in the same shopping center.

December Diamonds glittery penguin with rhinestone accents
Acquired: April 12, 2008, A Christmas Place, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Number: 0453
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $15

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fifth wheel

There are five penguins here, but only four variations. That’s because I bought one of the duplicates by itself on one trip to the Christmas Factory and then bought the others about six months later at the same store. It’s always nice to have a spare.

Five Mission Gallery stuffed penguins with brown and red stocking caps and earmuffs
Acquired: January 9 (0450) and June 7, 2008, Christmas Factory, Marshall’s Creek, Pa.
Number: 0450 0482 0483 0484 0485
Size: 4 to 5 inches tall
Price: $2.99 each (No. 0450, $2.24, 25 percent off)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cuddle up

My dreams of opening a Christmas shop where I live in the Poconos were dashed when I discovered the Christmas Factory in nearby Marshall’s Creek, Pa. It’s a great Christmas shop in a barnlike building, packed with all kinds of ornaments, like this cuddly odd couple. The store also has an upstairs that’s fun to explore.

Little penguin and snowman pair
Acquired: January 9, 2008, Christmas Factory, Marshall’s Creek , Pa.
Number: 0448
Size: 2.75 inches tall
Price: $9.99

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Light blue special

I don’t remember if there were other animals available, but I was happy to find this Martha Stewart ornament at Kmart. I also don’t remember if it was the same day I bought a set of Martha Stewart white plastic mixing bowls with lids the same light blue color as the penguin. This reminds me that I need to check the big stores to see if they are sneaking in the Christmas decorations. I was in a Duane Reade drug store the other day where they already have some of the Christmas stuff out.

Martha Stewart blue and glittery white wood cutout penguin
Acquired: Dec. 31, 2007, Kmart, Mount Pocono, Pa.
Number: 0447
Size: five inches tall
Price: $1.49 (50 percent off)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reduce, reuse and recycle

When your refrigerator light bulb burns out you can always find a way to put it to another use. All it takes is a little paint and a glittery felt hat to turn somebody’s trash into somebody else’s Christmas ornament. My sister Gale found this for me a bazaar at her New Horizons United Methodist Church in Southwest Ranches, Fla.

Recycled refrigerator light bulb ornament
Acquired: December 21, 2007
Number: 0444
Size: 3.25 inches tall

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vroom, vroom

Two little penguins are off on an exciting adventure, in typical Christopher Radko fashion, on a gold glittery motorcycle, she with her long red coat flowing behind. I just found out that I’m two degrees of separation away from Christopher Radko, which is pretty exciting itself for a Christmas ornament collector.

Christopher Radko “Penny Getaway” ornament, made in Poland
Acquired: December 20, 2007, Christmas Cottage, New York
Number: 0443
Size: 6 inches long
Price: $54.95

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ring in the new

This penguin was scheduled to run next week, but I moved it up after I wrote the title  “Ring out the old” on yesterday’s bell ornament. I think this is my only New Year’s ornament, and a fine one it is, a gift from my sister Xena and brother-in-law John. Just look at the beautiful detail on the back.

Happy New Year 2008 penguin
Acquired: March 2008, gift from Xena and John, my sister and brother-in-law
Number: 0452
Size: 4 inches tall

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ring out the old

“Porter the Penguin” is painted on a little cowbell and is inscribed with the place where I bought it and the year.

Giggle-Lings penguin bell ornament
Acquired: December 20, 2007, Christmas Cottage, New York
Number: 0442
Size: 2.5 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Monday, October 11, 2010

A lotta chocolate

One year, everyone got chocolates for Christmas. I gave some people other presents, but they also got chocolates. That’s because I was in Macy’s and they had gift boxes of chocolates with small ornaments attached as decorations. I don’t remember all the other ornaments but some of the candy boxes had penguin ornaments on them in different sizes, depending on the size of the box. I even gave myself three boxes of chocolates so I could keep one penguin of each size for my tree. A year later, I found one of the smallest penguins that someone (probably one of my nieces) had left behind and I added it to the collection too. That’s why there are two tiny ones and why the catalogue numbers are far apart. The chocolate was good, by the way.

Penguins in three sizes with blue and green hats and red ties with white polka dots
Acquired: December 19, 2007, Macy’s Herald Square, New York
Number: 0439 0440 0441 0576
Size: 1.25, 2 and 3 inches tall
Price: Came with boxes of Frango chocolate ($27.30 for three boxes)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No L

I suppose I should let our friend William Levy over at Lowercase L know about this one. His blog chronicles the strange practice of sign makers who write in all capital letters except for the letter L. I mean, the penguin’s feet sort of stick out to imply the bottom part of a capital L, but not very far.  Maybe bigger feet or skis would have helped. Lowercase l or not, using a critter instead of the letter makes a nice Christmas ornament and I’m glad the critter happens to be a penguin.

Noel ornament with penguin instead of the letter L
Acquired: December 7, 2007, Bryant Park, New York City
Number: 437
Size: 2.25 inches tall, 4.25 inches wide
Price: $9.99

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bewitching stitching

The needlework on this penguin makes it one of my favorite ornaments. I’ve found some beautiful ornaments at the annual holiday market in New York’s Bryant Park.

Stuffed felt penguin with nice embroidery and holly-trimmed hat
Acquired: December 7, 2007, Jesterbal, Bryant Park, New York City
Number: 0436
Size: 7 inches tall
Price: $18

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bits and pieces

These four penguins aren’t part of a set, but they are all made by the same company and I bought them together at a drug store one day. I don’t even remember why I was in the store, but it must have been on my way to work one morning. I was surprised to see such nice ornaments in a chain drug store, especially since the Christmas aisle was about half depleted and it looked like a tornado had gone through. The snowman, for example had no nose. I looked in the cardboard box directly below where the ornament was hanging and found the tip of either a snowman nose or a penguin beak inside. I pocketed the nose tip, bought the ornament and glued it on when I got home. I’m not sure if it was the right nose for the snowman or not, but it came out looking pretty good. Also when I got home, I found two holes in the bottom of the penguin with the tall red polka dot hat where his legs should have been. I imagine he had wiry legs like the penguin in the tool bag, but I think he looks fine as is.

All Merry Brite ornaments acquired December 7, 2007, CVS drug store, Eagle Valley, Pa.
Penguin in a blue bag of toys with white wire legs
Number: 0431
Size: 4.25 inches tall
Price: $2.99

Penguin with snowman and Christmas tree on patch of blue and white glittery snow
Number: 0432
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: $7.99

Roly poly penguin with tall, red hat with white polka dots
Number: 0433
Size: 3.5 inches tall
Price: $2.99

Penguin and Santa Claus on a green sled
Number: 0434
Size: 2.5 inches tall

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I’m getting ahead of myself here because I can’t wait to get this penguin onto the blog. Last night we had a great party to celebrate my sister and brother-in-law’s anniversary in Ravello, Italy, where they were married 20 years ago. I arrived Sunday, checked into the hotel and went to the town plaza to unwind from the trip. Practical things, like finding an ATM, looking for others who might have arrived, and having a glass of wine, were on the list of things to do the first night. I walked down one of the town’s narrow side streets and spotted a little toyshop that had some Christmas ornaments displayed on a wooden rack. Today’s ornament, the last one of its kind in the shop, was hanging from the very top — not even two hours in town and a major score. This is my first penguin ornament from Ravello (my third trip here) and I think my first in Italy. I don’t know what number it is, because I have several new penguins at home that I haven’t catalogued yet, but it’s more than 800. I’m doing an instant post on this penguin because happiness is what we all feel about John and Xena, and happiness is what we wish for them for years to come.

Old & New resin penguin holding a happiness banner
Acquired: October 4, 2010, Ravello, Italy
Number: 0810 (updated November 7, 2010)
Size: about 2 inches tall
Price: 6 euros

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Universal soldiers 5: Just one more

I found this last ornament while I was getting ready to check out with my hefty haul of penguins at The Christmas Shoppe. Then it was off to The Incredible Hulk where the entire family had reconvened. We had to wait for a couple of them to finish their last ride on the roller coaster before having dinner at a restaurant called Mythos that looked like a cave inside. It was nice finish to a long day, one that turned out to be a lot of fun despite all the mishaps. We had one more incident on the way out of the park. We had to stop at Starbucks for a caffeine nightcap where one of the kids’ dumped a drink on the floor. It caused a small commotion in the store, but for us it was just another incident in an event-filled day.

Sterling spun glass penguin with pink top hat, green body and gold wings
Acquired: November 24, 2007, The Christmas Shoppe, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Orlando
Number: 0427
Size: 3 inches tall
Price: $5.95

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Universal soldiers 4: Shaking the tree

In addition to all the penguin ornaments on display on the shelves, The Christmas Shoppe had a tall tree decorated with the very same ornaments. I noticed two ornaments on the tree that I couldn’t find on the shelves however. It was the two smaller versions of the clown-like pair featured today. I told the clerk, David, that I wanted the two smaller penguins off the tree if he didn’t have any others in stock. He checked in the back room first, then told me it would be about “10 minutes” before he could get a ladder to reach the ornaments. “I don’t suppose they’d let us climb up on the shelves (which were next to the tree)?” I asked. It was clear to me by now that David wasn’t happy about all of this and that he probably wanted me to go away and settle for the dozen or so ornaments I had already picked out. I waited, a few groups of customers came, and after they were taken care of, I asked about the ladder again. Without a word, David disappeared into the back. A few moments later Brianne appeared to watch the register, and then David returned with the ladder. All of this was for two little ornaments, but I’m glad I persevered because these are awesome penguins and it’s nice having them in two sizes.
I actually have another version of these penguins in a salt and pepper set that came to me as a gift. I think I have details about who and when written down somewhere, but I haven’t kept very good track of all my other penguins like I have with the Christmas ornaments. And I also have another set of penguins from The Christmas Shoppe, but they are candle holders and don’t look anything like any of the ornaments I bought. My sister Gale sneaked behind my back while I was enthralled with all the ornaments. Maybe when I unpack everything this year I can take a picture and post an update.

Large and small pairs of Kurt Adler clown-like penguins
Acquired: November 24, 2007, The Christmas Shoppe, Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando
Number: 0419 0420 0428 0429
Size: 7 inches, 8 inches and 4 inches tall
Price: $19.85 each (large), $9.95 each (small)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Universal soldiers 3: The family that plays together

Our luck changed with the rides, but not so for some in our group. One of the kids lost his lunch fromn the dizzying effects of one of the rides, or maybe it was those waffle fries, or both. Another family member nearly passed out from heat exhaustion and had to be taken to first aid for a few hours. The rest of us pressed on and, as darkness began to fall, we headed to Universal’s other park, Islands of Adventure. Almost everyone wanted to go on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, but I had to pass on that one. Instead, I planned to check out the Christmas Shoppe, which I had spotted earlier on a park guide. “Don’t you want to go on the way out?” someone asked me. “No, no. I’ll go now and find the rest of you later.” I knew myself and Christmas stores too well. This one turned out to be a jackpot with one wall filled with the penguin ornaments on yesterday’s post and another wall with today’s six glass ornaments. There was also a tall display penguin tree with a story of its own.

All acquired November 24, 2007, The Christmas Shoppe, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Orlando

Designers Studio Family of three on a snow backdrop
Number: 0421
Size: 4 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Designers Studio penguin with candy cane lollipop, green top hat and vest
Number: 0422
Size: 3.75 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Designers Studio Unique Treasures penguin with pink hair bow and scarf, Christmas tree lights
Number: 0423
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Designers Studio Unique Treasures penguin with gold earmuffs, pink and silver scarf
Number: 0424
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Designers Studio Unique Treasures penguin with pink earmuffs and peppermint lollipop
Number: 0425
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Designers Studio Unique Treasures family of four with stocking caps
Number: 0426
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $9.95

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Universal solders 2: On a brighter note

The family trip to Universal them park in Orlando got off to a slow start because we were all converging from different directions, kind of like these penguins on their wild modes of transportation. We also had a problem involving our tickets that we had bought on line the night before, something about having to change the names on some of the tickets. Whatever it was we needed to get approval at the customer service desk. So some of us went into the park, some went to the customer service desk and some of us had not even arrived yet. By the time we began to get into the park, it was time to get lunch for the kids, and they hadn’t been on a ride yet. Then as the rest of us trickled in, lunch became a long, drawn-out event until everyone was fed. We were having fun, mind you, but it was finally time to hit the rides and other attractions. We decided to start at E.T., snaking through the corrals of the long waiting line. Just as we caught our first glimpse of the roller coaster cars loading, the ride went silent and the house lights came on. An announcer informed us that the ride was closed. They told us we could come back later and go through the speed lane once the ride was functioning again. We had been in the park now for at least three hours, still no ride under our belts. Lucky for us, we had all day and all night to catch up . . . and we did.  To be continued.

All acquired November 24, 2007, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Orlando

Department 56 Christmas Eve Musical Note with penguin rider
Number: 0413
Size: 4.75 inches tall
Price: $6.99 (originally $10)

Department 56 Christmas Eve Vehicle ornament with two penguins on a red motor scooter
Number: 0414
Size: 3.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches long
Price: $9.99 (originally $15)

Department 56 Christmas Eve penguin on a bicycle
Number: 0415
Size: 4 inches tall, 3.25 inches long
Price: $9.99 (originally $15)

Department 56 black musical note with bird wings and candy cane striped legs
Number: 0416
Size: no measurement (it’s very tall)
Price: $6.99 (originally $10)

Bathtub handcart with two penguins and a Christmas tree
Number: 0417
Size: 4.5 inches tall
Price: $9.99 (originally $15)