History of Department 56 - How It All Began
One Christmas evening, a group of friends set off to enjoy a dinner of celebration at a small country inn nestled in a quiet river town. As they rounded a bend in the road, they saw the small, old-fashioned village decorated for the holidays. The lights, like fairies, glowed and sparkled amid the freshly fallen snow. All evening, the conversation was full of Christmas memories and the visions the tiny town had evoked. Amidst the jovial banter and magical memories, the idea for a lighted Christmas village was born. That spark of an idea became a reality when, in 1976, Department 56 introduced a series of six hand-painted, ceramic buildings. The rest is history.
Department 56 began in 1976 ,and since then they have become a leading designer, importer and distributor of collectibles and giftware. Dept 56 is known for its handcrafted, lighted Villages - the cornerstone of the company's extensive product line. Made of porcelain and hand-crafted to perfection, each D56 Village features churches, homes and shops reminiscent of historical and picturesque towns and cities, as well as hundreds of finely detailed accessories to complete the Village scenes.
Nostalgia and tradition, contemporary and creative describe the inspired designs of Department 56 collectible products. Display them in your home throughout the year to create a distinctive style that can used to inspire decorating and gift-giving traditions.
In 1976, over 30 years ago, D56 began as part of Bachman's, a retail floral company, that used a numbering system to identify each of its departments. The name assigned to the Wholesale Gift Imports Division was Department 56.
Now headquartered in Eden Prairie, MN. Dept 56 has become a leading designer, importer and distributor of collectibles and giftware known for its handcrafted, lighted Villages, Snowbabies figurines and extensive lines of holiday and home decorative products.
Department 56 - Through The Years
1976- The foundation of Department 56 takes shape with the introduction of six charming, lighted, ceramic buildings. These six premiere items were the beginning of The Original Snow Village®.
1979- D56 introduces 12 new Snow Village designs, and the first Village accessories appear.
1984- Release of The Dickens' Village Series, designed to capture the spirit of Christmas in Victorian England.
1986- The New England Village Series and The Alpine Village Series are introduced. This same year Snowbabies bisque figurines were born.
1987- Dept 56 continues to expand its product line with the addition of the hustle and bustle of Christmas In The City Series.
1990- The legend of Santa Claus becomes a part of D56 tradition with the addition of The North Pole Series.
1998- Snow Village Halloween becomes a part of the Village lines, with the introduction of a Haunted Mansion. Elfland, an extension of The North Pole Series, was also introduced as a place where elves lived and played after Christmas.
2004- The next generation in lighting has arrived! Eight lighted buildings are introduced that feature the new battery operated "long life cordless lighting" which eliminates the need for electrical cords in the lighted buildings. Now you can put up displays in places you never thought you could -- on a mantel, in a wreath or in the center of a table.
2008- Snow Village Halloween celebrates its 10 Year anniversary.
2009- Dickens' Village celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Inspired by the drawings and ideas of Neilan Lund, the series is still going strong. Also in 2009, the glittering Winters Frost Series is introduced.
2010- Williamsburg Village is introduced, commemorating the Capital of the Virginia Colony in the 1700’s.
2011- Department 56 celebrates its 35th Anniversary. Clock Towers are introduced in several of the villages. The Grinch Village celebrates the classic Dr. Seuss tale “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.