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The Many Faces and Styles of Santa Claus

December 06, 1990

In 1963, La Habra Heights resident Claire Spothelfer received her first Santa Claus. It was a little German doll given to her by her husband's aunt in the early years of the Spothelfer marriage.

Little did Spothelfer know that what started with the German Santa would grow to become a collection of approximately 500 Santas from all over the world.

"It just sort of grew like Topsy," Spothelfer said. "People started giving me Santas for gifts and one thing led to another."

Spothelfer has Santas of wood, Santas of fabric, musical and ceramic Santas--more Santas than she could possibly display in her home.

Her personal favorites are a small cloisonne Santa made in China and given to her by a dear friend. The other, she said, is a dime store Santa Claus with a music box that she gave to her daughter when she was 5 months old and celebrating her first Christmas. The daughter is now 27.

Spothelfer's collection is on display through Dec. 16 at the Whittier Museum, 6755 S. Newlin Ave. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday by appointment only. For appointments, call 945-3871.

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