Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hallmark Makes Industry of Collecting Ornaments

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hallmark Makes Industry of Collecting Ornaments

Article excerpt

By Amy Lignitz

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ For most people who buy them, Hallmark's Keepsake Ornaments are a chance to put a piece of Americana _ a Barbie doll or a space ship _ on their Christmas tree. For some, it's an appropriate gift for someone else.

But for others who collect them, the hundreds of perky ornaments issued annually are something else entirely. The significance can range anywhere from an impersonal investment to a personal passion.

After Hallmark became aware in the mid-1980s of the interest in the ornaments, it created two jobs to run a collectors' club. Those jobs soon merged into one, and Rachel Perkal has held it for the entire 7 years.

"The thing about it, these people are truly passionate about their collecting," Perkal said. "They are incredibly involved with it."

One collector, who literally wrote the book on collecting Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, Clara Johnson Scroggins of Tampa, Fla., said an ornament she bought in 1977 for $3.50 is now worth $500.

"But then you have this collector from the heart, that just loves Christmas, just loves to decorate, not just one tree but multiple trees," Perkal said.

"They feel more alive at Christmas. Really, this is the high point of their year. That person is truly passionate," Perkal said.

Hallmark said there are more than 100,000 members in its Collector's Club.

The company issued its first 18 Keepsake ornaments in 1973, six glass balls with art, and 12 made from yarn. They "just blew out," Perkal said, and year after year, the collection has grown.

This year, there are 240 ornaments. Each fits into a special category such as "Miniatures," "Showcase," and "Memories." Some stand on their own, while some are part of series. Some reflect popular culture, like the "Lion King," others are more traditional. Some have lights, moving parts, or let buyers record messages. …

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