Harold Gale began making Display Santa's around 1946 at his home. The business continued to around 1987 - 1988, with problems along the way because Gale had alcohol issues. They used only the finest materials with lots of hand work in the assembling process. The animated figures are run by Brevel motors, which are quite durable and often need only new cords and some lubrication to ring them back to life. A newspaper article indicates that the first year for production of the smaller Santa's was 1957. These were the first home display product made by Harold Gale and seems to have been the most successful Santa in their line. These Santa's were sold at Sears, through the Lee Wards Craft catalog, with Tupperware, and as premiums for many items including 7 Up, Parker Pens, Teleflora, Stanley Home Products & Knox Hats. By 1960 Gale was producing 100,000 units & the number of the small Santa's seen on eBay suggests volume got bigger every year. The 15" Santa's made from 1957 was the first item aimed at consumers , rather than displays for stores. The 15" doll dressed in red rayon satin is the most widely listed for sale Santa on eBay. Gale items were distributed by Columbia Toy Co, also in Kansas City until 1967 when Columbia went out of business. After 1967 them seem to have been distributed by Silvestari.
In a transcription of Nov 3, 1957 Kansas City Star article SANTA CLAUSE IN VELVET RIDES ASSEMBLY LINES Harold Gale, Inc, Now Definitely Big business, Was Born as A Spare Time Home Industry, Supplying Window Display Items A UNIQUE Santa Claus factory creates an unusual manufacturing scene on 4½ floors at 1327 Main St. The market is more than nation wide, substantial throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The business, Harold Gale, Inc, was a company born in Kansas City , MO in a apartment in 1946, but produce 30,000 units in the year 1957, many of them animate & ranging up to giant figures. The industry has became a sizeable business without creating up to this time a Santa for the home. In the Christmas season of 1957 the product has been distributed over the country for use in windows & other displays.
The year 1957 their is a trial run of foot high [15"] Santa Clauses will test the retail market [seems to have been their most successful item]. Animated Figures Pixies, clowns & deer, up to life size & some animated are produced for displays, but Santa Claus, on which the business earned wide acceptance in the display field, is 90% of the volume.
Harold W. Gale, a display man, & wife's business started the buisness while he was display manager of Woolf Brothers & created c. ½ dozen Santa Claus figures for a pre-Christmas displays. These figures were given to the managers of the various Woolf Bros establishments & the enthusiasm generated caused Harold & Viola Gale to start an at home workshop, bending wire frames in an apartment at 41 St & Lucust.
Risked Total Savings. ..., the Gales had about $3000 in savings & capital, products shown to jobbers from all over the United States . .. first factory space, $25 / month 1 room, carried to some 17 or 18 other rooms & hallways. Volume developed over the 10 years held costs so pricing never has been raised on any item. Later, 1 floor of 3,000 square feet, & 50,000 feet of lumber & a large amount of steel, rolls of rich velvet, Du Pont supplies special [neoprene] rubber with 35 - 49 employees.
Also in 1957 local suppliers are calling on the Harold Gale Company and are making record supply orders. There was a deal for New Plant in 1957. The business has moved over the hill to success.
Mr. & Mrs. Gale, who in 1957 lived at 2961 Westwood Road, in 1957 they were contemplating their first vacation in 10 years. In 1957 they had three children, 9, 8 and 2 years old.