I bought a set of vintage Putz houses at an estate sale earlier this year and fell in love. Putting a Christmas display together with the houses and trees was the first item on my decorating list this season.
Vintage Putz Houses
I think I first learned about Putz houses last Christmas after seeing them online somewhere, maybe on Pinterest or another blog. There is just something whimsical about miniature houses and trees.
Putz House Display
I thought the little paper houses were so sweet and wished I had a few of them. After checking prices on Etsy and eBay, I decided I would just admire the online photos.
Shopping Estate Sales
Well, back in the Summer, my neighbor’s mother, Mrs. Register, moved into assisted living, and they had an estate sale to empty out her big house because there was no way she could take all of her things to the small room at assisted living.
Putz Church House
Mrs. Register and her husband traveled the world when he was in the service, and they collected such beautiful things over the years. Going to the estate sale and seeing all the unique items was educational.
When I spotted the Putz houses, I knew I was taking them home with me. The eight houses with a couple of lone trees were $35. What a deal. I may have even got a discount on that price because it was the second day of the sale.
What Does Putz Mean
The name for Putz houses came from the German word “putzen” which means to clean or to decorate. This set of Putz houses was made in Japan and I really need to talk to Mrs. Register and get a little more info about the houses like where she purchased them, when, how she displayed them, etc.
All I can say is I was happy with the price and my findings. And…it’s even sweeter knowing who owned them in the past. I think a lot of my neighbor’s mom. She is one smart and sassy lady, even at the age of 100! Her mind is as sharp as a tack.
Putz Houses Made In Japan
In the late 1920s, a buyer for five-and-dime stores brought some pictures of American homes to a Japanese manufacturer and requested they make miniature copies of the houses. The first houses were candy containers and later versions had a hole in the back for filling with candy. My Putz houses have a hole in the back but I thought the hole was for a light!
The Origen of Putz Houses
I Googled Putz houses, and there are all kinds of articles, but I found this one to be the most interesting. A little info from the article…..The Putz tradition had its start in Central Europe, including Bohemia and Moravia which are now part of the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. My grandma always referred to these villages as a putz. When I asked her what that meant, she said, “It’s German for putting or placing things together to create a scene.” Later I learned it comes from the German word putzen which means to decorate or adorn.
Putz Houses And Nativity Scenes
The first putz was a three-dimensional miniature of the Nativity that represented the Christmas story. The Nativity was made out of natural materials collected by the family.
Evolution of Putz Houses
The houses manufactured by the Japanese were different in many ways from the original Putz house. The houses were made of cardboard and decorated with shiny materials including fake now and cellophane windows.
The Putz Trees
I was curious about the trees. They weren’t vintage bottle brush trees that are all the rage now. I searched the web and discovered the trees are made of loofah sponges. Who knew!
I tried to pick a favorite out of the bunch of houses but I love them all. I would like to buy more, but the price would have to be right. An online auction company located here in Clarksville listed a few houses in a couple of auctions last month but the bids on them went over my budget.
Favorite Putz House
Okay, well maybe this house is a favorite. I like the three-gabled roof or whatever the proper term is and I like the door color. The little doors and windows are made out of cellophane.
Displaying Putz Houses
I have the houses displayed together on top of the vintage wardrobe in our family room. After I placed them just so-so or all willl-nilly I sprinkled artificial snow around the houses and on the houses.
I don’t have much lighting where the houses are so I bought a few of those small LED votives and placed them behind a few of the houses. The scene looks really cool at night.
Putz House Color Combinations
Two of the houses have the red cross over the door, and I don’t know if these are Church buildings or what. I’ve noticed in researching these little cuties that there are some really large and fancy Putz houses, but I like my little ones the best. And….one of my favorite color combinations is turquoise and red.
Adding Non-Putz Pieces To Displays
I added a few extra trees to the display……just ones from my Christmas collection of stuff. One of them is a fairly new piece, I think, and it’s made of metal. The other two trees I had are vintage, and the green tree tips are covered with white “snow.”
Vintage Putz Houses Christmas Display
So, what do you think of my Putz Village Christmas display? Do you have any of the houses, or have you heard of them? Please share in the comments, and thanks for being here, Kathy
Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com