It doesn’t seem possible to any of us that it has been twenty-five
years since we first began selling the Caroler figurines to a
national audience. In 1978, we could not begin to guess where this
adventure would lead us. Of course we have grown in many ways, but
through it all, many things have remained the same. Most
importantly, we still completely handcraft each figurine in the
So much for looking back -- we feel this
anniversary is a time for looking ahead. A second generation is at
the helm and enthusiasm is high. To celebrate, we are launching a
new series inspired by Christmas illustrations from the 1800's.
first figure launching this new series is Victoria.
Enclosed in the small frame pictured right is the original
Victorian illustration that inspired her creation. She is dressed
in her finest attire, but we especially liked her hat. Victoria
has been named after Jeff's daughter, Ashlyn Victoria Byers who
has the distinction of being the Byers family's only
hope you will join us in this celebration by sending us pictures
of illustrations that you feel will make interesting Carolers.
These illustrations can be of Santas, children or adults. PLEASE
NOTE: These entries cannot be returned. If your entry is
chosen, you will receive one of the original prototypes with a
special thank you letter. Please send your entry by postal mail to
Byers' Choice Ltd., P.O. Box 158, Chalfont, PA 18914-0158 or by
email to email@example.com no later than the end of
June. Please include your email address or phone number so that we
can contact you if you are the winner. The finalists will be
listed on our website at www.byerschoice.com this summer so
that everyone can vote for his or her favorite. The winning
illustration that will be used as the inspiration behind our 2004
Christmas Illustrations figure will be announced at the end of
Cookie Vendor "Cries" in 2003
summer, Bob and Joyce spent several weeks traveling from Amsterdam
through Germany and Austria in search of wooden cookie molds.
These were used for many centuries to make Christmas cookies and
other decorative festive treats. A few molds were found in antique
shops but the best were discovered in museums. The last city on
the trip was Prague, and on a hunch, Bob and Joyce entered a small
shop on a back street that sold handcrafts. To their delight, they
found beautiful hand-carved wooden cookie molds along with the
sweet delicate cookies. They purchased several, crossed their
fingers and had them mailed to Pennsylvania with the hope they
would arrive safely.
This has lead to an interesting
relationship with a family from a small town in the Czech
Republic. We commissioned the master wood carver to carve a wooden
mold similar to those used in Medieval times depicting the birth
of Christ. He spent more than 100 hours working on this intricate
masterpiece. You can see it on display in the creche museum at
Byers' Choice in Chalfont.
baker made three cookies measuring 18-inches in diameter. We had a
tin box made especially for the cookies to assure their safe
journey to the United States.
Pere Noel is the gift bearer in
most of France. He is a tall, thin old man resembling Father
Christmas more than our Santa. He wears a long hooded robe trimmed
in fur and a cape lined with navy fabric covered with stars. He
enters the house by way of the chimney. On Christmas Eve, children
look up the chimney and see the stars sparkling in the sky. They
mistake this for Pere Noel's cape and hop into bed with
visions of toys and buche de Noel dancing in their heads.
Over one arm, Pere Noel carries a
basket with a gift and santon. Santons are nativity
figures that have been in Provence for centuries. We will tell
more about them in a future newsletter.
French Boy and Girl carry the preparations for
Christmas dinner. The petite fille holds the traditional chocolate
cake decorated with meringue mushrooms to resemble a yule log or
la buche de Noel. The petite garcon carries a basket with a French
hen . . . or is that a rooster?
Colonial Woman with Topiary
Several years ago, Colonial Williamsburg
commissioned Byers' Choice to create a gardening lady which could
be purchased by their visitors who wanted to take Home Page a reminder
of the magnificent colonial gardens in the restored area. This
year they have generously agreed to allow us to share this lovely
Colonial Woman with Topiary figure with our friends.
Topiary art was quite popular in colonial times, as people enjoyed
training, cutting and trimming trees, shrubs and plants into
fanciful and ornamental shapes. This figure holds a simple ivy
ring, however, more ambitious works include everything from large
geometric shapes to animals.
Spring Gardening Woman
now we are ready for Spring, and this charming Spring Gardening
Woman, with her arms filled with flowers, reminds us that it
is not far away. Perfect for Easter or Mother's Day, this figure
can remain out all year. Her dress will be made in assorted
patterns and colors. The wheelbarrow is
English Fox Hunt
in elaborate Victorian ritual, the fox hunt was a favorite of the
British gentry. The style of the hunt would vary, but the
Christmas hunt was always special.
Between forty and one hundred guests would
assemble at about 9:30 a.m. for a breakfast perhaps best described
as "a cold luncheon on a large scale." It included hearty food
such as joints of beef, pheasant, turkey, game pies, and of
course, several of the tasty British cheeses. Sherry, brandies,
liqueurs and ale would help warm the riders from within.
The meet assembled with the leading hunt
officers and followers wearing scarlet coats and black velvet
hats. The rest of the field wore more conservative riding habits.
Only the most dedicated horsewoman joined the hunt.
The stirrup cup (made of porcelain,
usually shaped like the head of a fox or hound) filled with a
warming brandy was passed first to the master of the foxhounds and
then to the huntsman before being passed to the other members of
the hunt. This accomplished, the party rode to the covert. With
the unleashing of 15 to 20 pairs of foxhounds trained to obey the
huntsman's voice or the sound of the horn which signaled the sight
of a fox, the hunt began as the participants rode for hours over
hill and dale following the hounds in pursuit of the elusive fox.
Currently, there is an ongoing debate in
the British parliament as to whether restrictions should be placed
on fox hunting, or whether the practice should be banned.
year we are really having fun with Kindles! These folks are no
longer just kitchen helpers and Christmas Spirits, they are now
dressing for all occasions. Devils and Angels have
been added to our "Trick or Treat Gang," while Pilgrims and
Native Americans are great for Thanksgiving. Scrooge,
Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Mrs. Cratchit
make a wonderful Christmas grouping. Santa, Mrs.
Claus, a doctor named Scrubs and a Colonial man named
George have also joined our ever-growing family.
Many stores have asked for special Kindles
to represent their area. They have included everything from a
beach bum to a vintner. Hundreds of Kindle cheerleaders in school
colors with pennants and pom-poms have been cheering on high
school and college teams throughout the country. Kindles have also
made great gifts for professional conventions. Their talents seem
to be endless.
If you are interested in having a special
Kindle made for your favorite organization, please call our
Customer Service department at 215-822-6700.
Byers' Choice Ltd. Open House
the weekend of June 7th - 8th 2003, Byers' Choice will celebrate
its 25th Anniversary by opening its doors to visitors from around
the country. This gathering is planned to enable Byers' Choice
enthusiasts to meet with friends and share in a variety of
activities. Below is a list of a few highlights for you to enjoy:
Tour the production floor where you can
see firsthand how the Carolers and Kindles are made.
Stroll through the Christmas Gallery
with its Victorian Street and miniature villages where hundreds
of figurines are on display.
Enjoy a collection of more than 200
handcrafted nativities from
around the world.
A special piece, the Silver Anniversary
Father Christmas, will be
offered only during this weekend.
Retired pieces from the Byers' Choice
archives will be available through
sale at original prices, by silent auction, as door prizes and
A bulletin board with hundreds of
Caroler display photos. If you would
like to send us a photo of your collection, we'll try to display
Reservations must be made for:
The Silver Anniversary Father
Christmas (limit of one per attendee)
The Factory Tour (day and time)
The Light Lunch -- the choice of a
sandwich or salad with your choice of beverage will be available
more information, please call Byers' Choice at 215-822-6700.
Information about local happenings and area attractions can be
found at www.byerschoice.com. Click OUR COMPANY then click
VISIT OUR FACTORY.
Victoria's Mother at 2003 Events
Many of our favorite retailers have
started the tradition of hosting a special Byers' Choice event for
their customers each year. This gives fans of the Carolers an
opportunity to come together and meet with other enthusiasts who
share common interests.
This year we will have an added treat for
those in attendance. Joyce has created Victoria's Mother as
a special event piece for 2003. Retailers with plans to host a
Byers' Choice event will be able to purchase a limited quantity of
her to offer as a special thank you to a limited number of those
Victoria's Mother will first appear
at store events in early June and will then be visiting stores
throughout the country this summer and fall. To find an event in
your area, visit the OUR RETAILERS section of our website
The Golfers return to tee off in
the New Year with a change of costume.