Department 56

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Department 56
Founded1976 (42 years ago)
FounderEdward R. Bazinet[1][2]
HeadquartersEden Prairie, Minnesota
Key people
Michael Griffith (president)[3]
ParentEnesco
Websitedepartment56.com

Department 56 is a U.S. manufacturer of holiday collectibles, ornaments and giftware, known for its lit Christmas village collections and Snowbabies collection. It is owned by Enesco and based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

History[edit]

Department 56 was founded in 1976. Originally, it was part of Bachman's, a retail florist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bachman's employed a numbering system to identify each of its departments. The number assigned to the wholesale gift imports division was 56.[4]

Founder Ed Bazinet (born 1943 or 1944)[1][5] convinced the Bachman family to invest $50,000 in starting the division, and was appointed its first president when Department 56 was spun off as a $15 million subsidiary in 1984.[6] He was a talented employee of Bachman's who won the Minnesota State Florist Association's 1964 Designer of the Year competition.[7] Bazinet sold Department 56 in 1992 for $270 million,[8] and remained in company leadership positions until his retirement in 1997.[2][9] Bazinet was a 1996 Gift for Life honoree for his support to HIV/AIDS research, education, prevention, and treatment.[10] In 2000–2001, Department 56 donated at least $25,000 to the Walker Art Center in honor of Bazinet (who also donated to the art center that year).[11] A $20 million spending spree by Bazinet at a New York gift fair in 2012, for which he received headlines, was reported as being due to a bipolar episode.[8][5][12] Bazinet died on November 20, 2017, leaving a $54 million estate.[13][14]

In 1993, the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol of "DFS".[2] At its peak in the 1990s, the stock traded for $40 a share.[15] In 2005, after purchasing Lenox from Brown-Forman, the company changed its name to "Lenox Group Inc"[16] and its ticker symbol to "LNX".[17] After failing to meet the exchange's requirements, trading was moved to the OTC Bulletin Board under the ticker "LENX".[18] Lenox filed for bankruptcy in 2009,[19] and was acquired by the private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners.[20] Enesco acquired Department 56 from Lenox that year.[21]

The Egg Nog Pub

Department 56 has been headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota since June 25, 1991.[21] As of May 2015, the company had about 30 employees, and its sales had grown seven to eleven percent per year over the prior four years.[15] About two-thirds of sales are via smaller gift and Christmas shops, but the most recent growth has been through national retail stores, with Amazon also among the biggest customers.[15]

Villages[edit]

The brand began with the "Original Snow Village" collection of six houses in 1976.[21] Each Department 56 item has its name on the bottom. Buildings are also dated, with the year of copyright rather than year of issue. The first Original Snow Village pieces were the Mountain Lodge, Gabled Cottage, the Inn, Country Church, Steepled Church, and Small Chalet, and are made of ceramic. The collection consists of over 225 pieces, including accessories.[22][23]

A sub-series called "Christmas Lane" became a bestseller and includes what one vendor describes as "typical overly decorated homes located on the streets of America during the holiday season".[24][25] In 2011, identical twin brothers Mark and Mac Sockwell won a national contest to have their home and its decorations developed into a new Christmas Lane house.[26]

The "Heritage Village" Collection consists of several different villages and some sub-collections within each village.[27] The first was the porcelain Dickens Village in 1984 with houses depicting the time of Charles Dickens and relating to the stories that he wrote.[24] Pieces include The Cottage of Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim, The Old Curiosity Shop, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist.[28]

The "New England Village" started in 1986 and depicts the buildings and people of the New England area with its many churches, such as the Old North Church in Boston, lighthouses and farm areas.[29]

The "Alpine Village" also started in 1986 and remains one of the smaller collections. It consists of buildings such as Josef Engel Farmhouse, Besson Bierkeller, Grist Mill and the St. Nickolaus Kirche church.[30]

The "Christmas in the City" collection, set in the 1930s and 1940s, started in 1987 and consists of such pieces as the Palace Theatre, Toy Shop & Pet Store, Ritz Hotel, Dorothy's Dress Shop, Wong's, and a rare limited edition – Cathedral Church of St. Mark.[24][31]

Carol singers in the North Pole series

The "North Pole Series" was started in 1990 with the introduction of three houses, Santa's Workshop, Elf Bunkhouse, and Reindeer Barn.[32] The collection celebrated its 15th Anniversary in 2005 with the release of five special edition buildings which, when put together, spell "SANTA".

The "Little Town of Bethlehem" was issued in 1987 as a set of twelve pieces.[33]

In May 2016, Department 56 introduced two entirely new villages "First Frost" and "Holiday In The Woods".[34]

Collectors[edit]

In 1992, Jack Skeels (1930–2005) founded the National Council of Fifty Six Clubs (NCC) as an umbrella organization for Department 56 Collector Clubs in the United States and Canada.[35] As of June 2017, the NCC recognized 85 member clubs across ten regions.[36] In addition to club promotion and information exchange, the NCC helps sponsor collector gatherings which include seminars, display contests, and fundraising for local charities.[15][35]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Hope, Bradley (January 10, 2008). "Here's a Classic New York Story of No View Being Permanent". The New York Sun. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Department 56, Inc. History". FundingUniverse. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  3. ^ "About Us – Leadership". Enesco. Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "About Department 56". christmasvillages.co.uk. Christmas Villages. Archived from the original on July 3, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b James, Susan Donaldson; Patinkin, Felicia (February 15, 2012). "Millionaire Hospitalized After Bipolar Spending Spree". ABC News. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  6. ^ "History of Bachman's Inc". referenceforbusiness.com. Advameg. Archived from the original on September 21, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  7. ^ "Designer of the Year Competition". Minnesota State Florist Association. Archived from the original on April 13, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Boyle, Louise (February 16, 2012). "Multimillionaire taken to mental hospital after blowing $20MILLION on trinkets". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  9. ^ French, Brett (October 23, 2016). "Landowner to donate property in Paradise Valley". Billings Gazette. Archived from the original on October 27, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  10. ^ "Gift For Life Honoree History". Gift for Life. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  11. ^ "Donors". Walker Art Center. 2001. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  12. ^ Schwab, Isabel (December 7, 2016). "Ceramic miniatures millionaire buys two apartments at 100 Barclay for $12M". Luxury Listing NYC. Archived from the original on May 11, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  13. ^ GDA Staff (November 28, 2017). "Remembering Ed Bazinet, Department 56 Founder". Gifts and Decorative Accessories. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  14. ^ Boniello, Kathianne (April 21, 2018). "Sister, widower of Christmas figurines mogul fight over $54M estate". New York Post. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d Kumar, Kavita (May 31, 2015). "A new generation of collectors helping Department 56 stage second act". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  16. ^ D'Onofrio, David A. (June 2008). "Inventory to the Lenox, Incorporated, records, 1889–2005: Introduction – Historical Chronology". Rutgers University. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  17. ^ "Stock Factsheet – NYSE – New York Stock Exchange". Commodity Systems Inc. Archived from the original on November 19, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "Current News". Lenox Group Inc. May 9, 2009. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2017. Lenox Group Inc Shares to be Traded on OTC Following NYSE Delisting Action
  19. ^ Feyder, Susan (August 19, 2009). "Department 56 meets Chapter 11". Business. Star Tribune. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  20. ^ Bettex, Morgan (March 20, 2009). "Lenox To Exit Ch. 11, Regroup After $100M Sale". Law360. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  21. ^ a b c "Our Story". Department 56. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  22. ^ "Original Snow Village History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 8, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  23. ^ "Original Snow Village Accessories History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 1, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c "Department 56 Collections and Sets". christmas-village-displays.com. Martin Treasure. Archived from the original on July 4, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  25. ^ "Christmas Lane". Department 56 Corner. Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  26. ^ Barlas, Thomas (December 23, 2011). "Vineland home will become part of Department 56's Christmas Lane". The Press of Atlantic City. Pleasantville, New Jersey: BH Media Group. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  27. ^ Race, Paul and Sheila. "Notes on Dept. 56® Village Collections". familychristmasonline.com. Breakthrough Communications. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  28. ^ "Dickens Village Series History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  29. ^ "New England Village Series History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  30. ^ "Alpine Village Series History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 1, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  31. ^ "Christmas in the City Series History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  32. ^ "North Pole Series History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  33. ^ "Holy Land History List" (PDF). Department 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  34. ^ "Department 56 May 2016 New Release Highlights". Christmas Villages. May 22, 2016. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  35. ^ a b "About Us". ncc56.com. National Council of Fifty Six Clubs. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  36. ^ "Sortable listing of all clubs". National Council of Fifty Six Clubs. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved June 17, 2017.

References[edit]

  • "Another Order To Go: Lenox Moves Out After 116 Years". The New York Times. September 25, 2005. p. NJ6.
  • AP (October 8, 1992). "Forstmann Little Buying Collectibles Maker". The New York Times. p. section D, page 5, column 1.
  • Antilla, Susan (May 2, 1993). "Forstmann Little's Next Coup?". The New York Times. p. F15.
  • Gordon, Jane (June 3, 2001). "What a Gift: Christmas All Summer Long". The New York Times. p. CT14.
  • Slesin, Suzanne (February 23, 1989). "The Latest Entry In Barnyard Chic". The New York Times. p. C3.
  • Nussbaum, Debra (May 20, 2001). "Christmas Shopping That Requires S.P.F". The New York Times. p. NJ4.

External links[edit]