Collecting Harold Gale Santas Gets You Into the Christmas Spirit
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. Harold & 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 sells 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 she came on board in 1959. It was a magical era with lots of white boots and white belts going around fat little belly’s. 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.
Harold Gale Started Out Small and Santa Got Big
The first year for production of the smaller, made-for-the-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. And amazingly 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.
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.
Information provided by Glenn Waters