The Joy of Collecting Harold Gale Santas for Christmas
Collecting Harold Gale Santas is a fun way to get into the Christmas Spirit. Mr. Harold Gale began making department store display Santas around 1946 at his home; his wife would help him, and they would stay up late at night working on these beautiful creations after their children went to bed. Most of the homemade Santas were made in the early years.
History of the Harold Gale Santa Company
Harold and Viola Gale put everything they had into starting their at-home workshop, bending wire frames, and making Santa suits in their apartment. They risked all their savings to start the company; the Gales had about $3,000 to start the Harold Gale Santa Company.
Soon the volume of sales grew, and with the money they made, they built a small Santa factory and developed their line of Santa Clauses over a 10-year period. They held costs down so that prices never had to be raised on any of their Santas. Soon, they had a 3,000 square foot factory with 35 to 49 employees turning rolls of rich velvet and Du Pont supplies special [neoprene] rubber into beautiful Santas.
The business grew significantly in the early 1960s and sadly ceased production around 1988, with problems along the way because unfortunately, Mr. Gale had alcohol issues. The Gales used only the finest materials with lots of hand-work in the assembling process. The larger animated Santa figures were run by well-made Brevel motors, which are very strong and often need only some lubrication to bring them back to life.
By 1960, All the Major Stores Carried Harold Gale Santas
At one time, all the department stores and gift shops carried a full line of Harold Gale Santa Clauses. They came in many sizes and colors. The early 1960s saw the greatest growth for the company. Soon there were golden-suit Santas, green-suit Santas, and even pink-suit Santas. Let us not forget the golden-belly Santas and Mrs. Clause when she came on board in 1959. It was a magical era with lots of white boots and white belts going around fat little bellies.
Needless to say, many new Santa faces were also added to the lineup. I remember even the local drug store had them in their window display and for sale behind the counter with the silver pom pom Christmas trees from the Star Spangle Aluminum Company. Everything was American-made, except the Knee-hugger Elves and the small plastic reindeers (they were made in Japan). The small plastic nativity scenes were made in Hong Kong. The big expensive ones were made in Italy.
An Early Department Store Display Santa
Harold Gale Started Out Small and Santa Got Big
The first year for production of the smaller, made-for-consumer Santas was 1957. The 15-inch Santa Claus made in 1957 was the first item Harold Gale ever aimed at Christmas shoppers, rather than department store displays that he made. The smaller 15-inch Santa dressed in red satin with white go-go boots and a white belt is today one of the most widely listed Santas for sale on eBay. Amazingly, it seems to have been the most successful Santa in the Harold Gale line of products.
At first, these smaller Santas were sold at Sears and Roebuck, and as bonuses or awards for many items, including Stanley Home Products, Parker Pens, 7 Up, Teleflora, & Knox Hats. But by 1963, most department and gift stores were carrying them in their Christmas decorations departments during the holidays, and they were hard to keep on the shelf.
Remarkably, in the year 1960, Harold Gale was producing over 100,000 Santas, from the large, department-store size, to the smaller made for consumers. The number of the smaller Santas that are seen on eBay suggests volume got bigger every year throughout the 1960s, with the mid 1960s being the best years for the company.
Grantley With One of His Harold Gale Santas From the 1960s
Fabulous 1963 Vintage, Pink Santa Claus
Red 1963 Velvet Santa and His Cardboard Chimney
A Vintage, Rare Design, 10-Inch Santa Claus
The Small and Rare 1957 Catalog Santa
The photo above is of the rare small Santa. These were the first home-display products made by Harold Gale and seem to have been the most successful Santa in their line. They measured around ten inches tall. And four and a half inches wide, and thirteen and a half round.
A 1948 Window Display Santa, Stands 66 Inches Tall
Harold Gale Made His Santas Out of Top-Quality Materials
Harold Gale made his Santa's out of top-quality materials that would have been handmade out of his own workshop and very much elf-approved by the real Santa. The big window display Santas of the 1940s were made to stand the test of time. Heavy, well-made body structures that weigh approximately 40 pounds or more ensured that they would last. Generally, the legs are wooden with metal joints covered with stuffing and felt, the body would be fiberglass or rubber, and the face is painted rubber or fiberglass. The Santa suit would have angel-hair-like stuffing or fine grade cotton.
Motorized mechanisms were placed where the real Santas heart would be, and the mechanisms keep him moving and functional. Many today work as well as the day they were made back in the 1940s. These motors keep the Santas moving correctly. The linkage to this motor goes to one of the arms that raises it up and down to simulate the wave, or there are two gears one in each arm lifting him up and down an artificial chimney in the window display. Generally, these mechanisms work forever like the well-made clocks of European town squares in Germany and Switzerland.
A Cheerful Little Santa Claus From the Late 1950s
Santa Claus Store Window Display
Early 1960s Santa
1960s Pepsi Christmas Santa on Ladder
The Beautiful 1963 Golden Coat Santa
A Beautiful 1959 Animated Santa Window Display Set
In the video below is a beautiful 1959 animated Santa with treasure chest for the Christmas season. What a wonderful find, they only made about fifteen of these model worldwide. Most of this Santa model came with a treasure chest went to department stores in the northeast and midwestern United States. There is also an awesome Pepsi Santa on a ladder, behind the Santa with the treasure chest.
Automated Santa With Treasure Chest
A Version Made for Pepsi, 50 Inches Tall
Kaufman Foundation 1980 KC Royals 14" Version
Gorgeous, Rare 40" Santa Claus Store Display Figure
Looks Great in Holiday Displays
Beautiful Powder Pink One That's 15" Tall
Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus Mechanical Window Display
Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus in a Rocking Chair
In the photo above is a vintage animated mechanical and electric Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus doll rocking chair. It measures 42" L X 40" H X 21" W. When plugged in, Mrs. Clause pushes Santa Clause's chair and rocks it. The motor is quiet and runs smooth. The motor was built for commercial use to run for many hours in a display.
Eary 1960s Santa Claus, 7-Up Store Display
Vintage 1963 Version
Sweet 1959 White Velvet Suit and White Fur Trim
Dancing Animated Santa From 1966
Here Is Paula Mills' Beautiful Santa, standing at 6 1/2 Feet Tall
Bonnie Groves, Howard Gale Santa. Dressed in Satin not Velvet
Here is Debbie's Amazing 1960s Harold Gale Parachute and Santa. The Parachute and Santa Spins by Batteries Attached to the Motor
Debbie's Amazing Happy New Year Santa, Dressed in his Tuxedo
Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Santa Stands 16" Tall and Mrs. Claus Is 14" Tall
Santa and Mrs. Claus Are So Happy to be Out of That Box
Mint 1960s Harold Gale 14-Inch Red Velvet Santa With His Box
Vintage Harold Gale 28" Department Store Display Santa St. Nick
Xmas 1970s Department Store Display Saint Nick 28 Inches Tall
Questions & Answers
We have a Harold Gale Santa in excellent condition with the original box. It’s a 50” Santa from a 7Up display. Do you have any idea of its value, or know of a place where I can sell it?
It would be best to sell your Harold Gale Santa around Thanksgiving on eBay and start the bid at around $45.00. It could go up considerably since it has the original box.Helpful 1
© 2014 Glenn Waters