By Josh Saunders
Meet the Santa Claus collector with a ho-ho-ho-horde of over 4,000 figurines ranging from life-size replicas to rare pieces.
James Rahe, 37, started collecting Father Christmas figurines as a teen with dad, Rodney, 74, now their collection could be worth up to $100,000 (75kGBP)
The collection is so expansive James and wife Megan, 27, have dedicated their whole basement to it and have even previously opened it up for friends to tour like a museum.
From several specialist Lladro pieces worth up to $10k in total, to Santas the size of a thumbnail, six-foot imitations as well as novelty pens, pencils, erasers and more.
The father-of-four from Commerce City, Colorado, USA, says collecting is a ‘part of him’ now and he relishes the Christmas joy he’s able to bring to others.
His sizeable Santa collection expanded by 500 pieces this year alone and shows no sign of him slow-ho-ho-ing down – despite some considering the collection ‘crazy’.
James, a warehouse manager, said: “We have over 4,000 Santa collectibles from a wide variety of makers, everything from Harmony Kingdom to Lladro, Jim Shore and more.
“Some of them are individually named like an art piece, our estimate is for the collection to be worth around $100,000 but that would be a guess.
“Our Lladros are worth $10,000 altogether and the most prized piece is worth $4,000, I’ve never seen one for sale until it came on eBay five years ago.
“The Harmony Kingdome pieces are some of my favourites – the level of detail put into them is amazing, you can read the backstory to what the designers had in mind, which is very interesting.
“There are a lot of novelty pieces too, my wife is looking for a Santa that shakes, we have lots of little pieces like that, which the kids think are hilarious.
“We have everything from Santas with paddleboards to pins, pens and erasers, it’s all over the place, if it is Santa or has a Santa involved we go for it.
“Our smallest piece is around an inch-tall and we have them as big as life-size figures that are six-foot-tall.
“We’ve actually ran out of room in the basement – but decided to keep them up all year round this year.
“I go down once a week and I’m still in awe at how many we have.
“Because there are so many you can easily spot one that you haven’t seen for several years – it’s like reliving a new piece.”
James and wife Megan, opened up their basement last year for visitors to see their impressive collection.
He added: “Watching everyone’s faces showed us how incredible our collection is.
“Generally, we have a mixed response, people either think our collection is crazy or incredible.
“But since telling our co-workers, they come by to look at the collection, it’s nerve-wracking but at the same time it’s a good feeling to see the joy on their faces.
“It’s something I’ve latched onto now through the years, it’s a part of me now and life is so short you have to do the things you enjoy.
“You can’t pay too much attention to what other people think, at the end of the day it brings a lot of happiness to us and others.”
James started collecting with his father at 15, before getting more invested in his mid20s and later taking over the collection himself.
He said: “My grandad used to wear a Santa pin on his shirts during Christmas and my grandma would paint Santas onto plates, they were important pieces to my father.
“I got hooked through him, I bought a few in my teen years but it wasn’t until my mid-20s when we started going crazy buying them.
“I was financially in a really secure, good place in my job, had the extra time and extra revenue, plus it was something nice to share with my father.
“It’s brought our family together getting to display and set up the Santas over the years.”
As time has gone on the sizeable Santa horde, expanded to such a large amount that they needed to move the Santas into storage, then to a shop and now they reside in James’s basement on show.
Among the collection he lists Harmony Kingdom, Possible Dreams, Lladro, Jim Shore, Pumpkin Seeds, Lynn Haney, Melody in Motiion, Lennox, Pipka, and 50 other makes.
They have amassed such a sizeable collection through purchasing online, estate sales, auctions and more.
James said: “We go to a variety of places, from Goodwill stores where we can pick up 40 different Santas for $40, to a store where you can buy a Harmony Kingdom Santa for $80 and above.
“We will keep on collecting I’m sure, some days I come home to find a package and realise my dad has been buying more Santas online for the collection.
“Each year me and my wife buy 500 new Santas and it has no signs of slowing down yet.”