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Stories of Naperville
Local collectors, Gary and Ginger Fry, help with holiday exhibit
The original item was published from November 17, 2017 4:09 PM to February 23, 2024 2:57 PM
Pictured left to right:
Cara Grandys, Steven Daniel, Jim Baer and Ginger and Gary Fry.
This holiday season, Naper Settlement's curatorial team created the upcoming holiday-themed, post-World War II exhibit, “Home for the Holidays: Christmas in the Fabulous 1950s,” on view now till Dec. 24. With the help of some amazing collectors, visitors will need to keep an eye out for a few remarkable items on loan from Naperville residents and local collectors, Gary and Ginger Fry.
The Frys have contributed to Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibits for the past two years, and began collecting antique items when they got married 48 years ago. Ginger says they were so in love with antiques they registered their wedding with an antique dealer for crystal wine and water goblets, rather than with a department store.
Gary owned the Antiques on Jefferson in Naperville for 8 years, and it was there the Frys saw a feather tree decorated with tiny German ornaments. They purchased the tree, and soon after became interested in learning more about antique Christmas items.
Example of a feather tree from last year's Merry & Bright Exhibit
After they retired, the Frys joined the Golden Glow of Christmas Past, a non-profit organization focusing on education and history of antique and vintage Christmas items, which was founded by a Christmas light collector from Chicago. The Frys reached out to other members of the organization to help with Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibit who had Christmas items from the 1950s.
Although the Frys still add to their early antique collections if they stumble upon something unusual, Ginger says antique Christmas items are their most recent love. They first began collecting glass ornaments, but gradually began adding ceramic and china pieces, that include candy containers, Santa figures, snowmen and angels.
“The great thing about collecting Christmas things is that they can be small and since they aren’t displayed year-round, they don’t need a permanent cabinet or shelf,” said Ginger. “We pack them away after Christmas and when we bring them out in October or November it’s like finding a new treasure.
We often reminisce about when and where we found a particular prize.”
When asked what kind of advice Ginger would give to someone who wants to start collecting antiques, she recommends buying items "that you love and that will make you smile." Ginger says collecting is also a great social activity.
“Getting out and talking to the sellers and other collectors n
ot only provides us with something to do, but it also is a wonderful place to learn something new,” said Ginger. “Christmas can be a stressful time, but to us decorating our home, having friends visit and visiting their homes to see their displays brings us much pleasure.”
Ginger worked as a teacher and always had a love for children’s books, so some of her favorite Christmas books from the 1950s will be on display. The Frys have also loaned a variety of miniature stockings and helped to recreate a typical 1950s living room with their stainless steel Christmas tree complete with a revolving color wheel.
Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibit, Home for the “Holidays: Christmas in the Fabulous 1950s,” will be from Nov. 14 to Dec. 24 and will be open during winter museum hours. Admission during Christkindlmarket is free. Underwritten by Ronald & Claudia Stenger. Visit our
or call (630) 420-6010 for more information.
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