Thursday, December 24, 2015

Treasures from the Archive: Folkers Nativity Collection

"Jesus is Here" hand carved nativity set from China

One of our Christmas traditions at Concordia University, Saint Paul Library Technology Center is pulling out the Folkers Nativity Collection and filling our display cases with some of our favorites.

Terra cotta nativity set from Peru. 

Robert A. Folkers was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1922, where he lived most of his life until his death in February 2005. He was a WWI and Korean War Air Force veteran and a graduate of Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois. He had a 31 year career with Caterpillar, Inc., working as a field Engineer in research and development. He was an active member of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church for 68 years, volunteering in many areas of ministry.

Hand carved nativity set from Indonesia

Travel was a big part of Bob’s life; his work with Caterpillar took him throughout the world. After his retirement, he continued to travel extensively, both for pleasure and numerous volunteer and educational purposes. He participated in seven mission trips with the Luther Layman’s League and Lutheran Bible Translators. The trips took him to such diverse locations as Liberia, Ghana, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Russia.

Hummel nativity set from Germany; the set that started the collection!

Nativity collection began when Bob purchased his first set, a Hummel, at a PX in Germany in the 1950s for $50.00 (today a complete set is worth much more than that!) From then on, whenever he found an interesting set, he brought it home. After retirement, his travels increased and he went out of his way to unearth unusual sets. The collection grew to over 110.

Bob’s sister, Dorothy Ebs, knew that her brother wanted the set to be kept together and enjoyed by the public. She knows he would be pleased that they now call Concordia University home.

Lefton China hand painted "Yamada Originals," 1999. 

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