I began collecting tiny paper Putz houses 15 years ago when then Historical Society Pres., Leonard Kuehnert told me about them. Museum founder, Vernon Meyr had a few of them in his grandparent’s collection. His Christmas ornament collection was used for our very first Christmas exhibit 15 years ago next month. Putzen are traditional small village pieces that typically surrounded a Nativity scene. To putz is to place or put things together to decorate a scene, according to cardboard village expert, Pete Oehman. Here is an example of part of his collection:
According to Oehman, the tradition of cardboard villages began in Central Europe and were a significant part of the Moravian culture in the United States, dating back to the 1700’s in Pennsylvania.
The earliest tiny villages used stones and moss from the woodlands. Scale was never an issue. Oehman said that a two inch cat figurine would be placed by a smaller cow figurine. The crèche with Baby Jesus was the central focus.
German immigrants added their influences to the regional Putz houses that were popular here in Perry County. The brightly painted exteriors, cellophane cut-out windows, painted landscape, and floral additions were part of the German Putz houses.
Interestingly, many tiny cardboard houses were marketed for the United States from Japan-after WWII. I noticed that a few of the historic pieces in our collection were made in Japan. Some of the houses in our collection have semi-melted cellophane windows from the vintage tree lights that conducted quite a bit of heat.
I have a special surprise for you. We will be hosting a Putz making class, Sat., Nov. 23 from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at The Lutheran Heritage Center amongst the beauty of our 2015 Christmas Tree Exhibit. We will break at noon for a Christmas Tea with finger sandwiches and Christmas desserts by our Hospitality crew. Our Putz instructor will be Hope Eddleman. The class is limited to one dozen, first come first served. The class and Christmas Tree fee is $20. to be paid upon arrival Nov. 23. Please call us to get on our reservation list: 573-824-6070. Leave me an email if I can provide any clarifications: firstname.lastname@example.org Here is a sample of our Museum Putz Collection