A reader wrote:
I came across your site quite recently and would like to thank you for a most interesting site I have found the information within most informative. I love Christmas and read your article on Hawthorne Village with great interest which has prompted me to write to you for advice. I have several items of Hawthorne Village from 2000/2001 and wondered if there was a list available of the pieces made at this time as I would like to add to my collection, thanks.
Tony, Thanks for getting in touch. I didn't really become acquainted with Hawthorne village until about 2004, though I've retroactively collected a few pieces that were made much earlier. Here's some history to tell you why I can't exactly answer your question.
Unlike Dept. 56 whose business plan depended on each individual piece being a numbered collectible with "value" and hopefully increasing in that value in years to come, Hawthorne Village's business plan depended on appealing to a wide range of audiences with many different products. Yes, they're all numbered, and most of them are assigned serial numbers and little certificates. But with Dept. 56 there is a huge focus on protecting the past (and therefore "guaranteeing" new purchasers that their pieces will one day be classic collectibles as well). Hawthorne Village's designers were always looking to the future, trying to find niche markets that no one else had tapped. So you'll see Dept 56 collectors' guides that list every piece ever made and it's presumed value (always overrated). You won't see that for Hawthorne Village - they made and sold a lot more pieces, and many of them appealed only to, say, John Wayne collectors, or Munster fans. The whole dynamic of creating something guaranteed to increase in value just BECAUSE it is a collectible isn't there.
Collectibles Today (Hathorne's owners) would contract with resin artists and factories in China to make a "run" of product at the same time they hired artists to draw an "artist's conception" of the first issue to put into their catalogs, web pages, and magazine advertisement. When the first, test batch was available, they would sometimes use photos of those, especially if the photos looked much different than the "artist's conception." Often only the first three or four issues in each run were even designed before they started taking orders. But they wouldn't put in orders for issues past #5 unless they had a good number of signups, so some sets only ever got 4 pieces. Other sets kept adding new pieces indefinitely, but once the original set was "retired," orders for the ongoing "issues" would gradually taper off, so the last few pieces would be made in very small batches, and even then would sometimes wind up being given away to advertisers as "samples."
So if you had, say the first 12 in a series that went to 15, you might NEVER track down the other three.
Due to the 2008-2009 recession, Collectibles Today was consolidated into the Bradford Exchange, and a certain amount of historical knowledge of early sets has been lost.
Worse yet for you, the regional offices of Bradford Exchange have stopped carrying most Hawthorne Village lines and you can no longer order directly from the US/Canada office. (I've complained to them about that, but to no avail.)
THAT SAID, some sets, like certain Thomas Kinkade villages, were produced for a very long time, and there are enough of them around to at least get an idea of what pieces were commonly available.
So that's a very long explanation to tell you that you might not ever be able to track down the other pieces you'd like to have (or even find out about them). But if your collection is one of the more popular ones, you might have a chance at an answer.
BTW, lots of "odds and ends" come up on eBay US, but don't bid on anything unless you're A: absolutely sure you need it and B: can see enough detailed photos to tell that EVERY PART of that issue is there and is in excellent shape. I've bought several Hawthorne village pieces over eBay, and every one had a bad chip or a missing accessory, or multiple missing accessories.
Here's my question, what set(s) do you have part of, and which pieces in those sets?
If I don't know them, I'll post your question on the BigIndoorTrains.com discussion forum for other folks to take a look at.
Hope you have a GREAT spring,