Thursday, December 15, 2022

A Share with a Story

As a collector of many things Christmas, not just music, tonight's share has a special story to go along with it.  For several years now I've collected the editions of "An American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art".  The Annual was published by Augsburg Publishing House (now Augsburg Fortress) in Minnesota.  It was published from 1931 through 1997, with a special 'best of' edition published in 1999.  For fifty years, 1931 - 1980, the magazine was edited by Randolph Haugen, founder of Augsburg Publishing House.  The Annual continued past his retirement following the 50th anniversary issue, and remained a staple of Augsburg following Mr. Haugen's death in 1985 until the final 1997 edition.

This year was notable for me, as a collector, for two reasons.  First, I finally found the elusive 1931 edition for a reasonable price on eBay, completing my collection.  It had been the only missing issue for several years.  I had only seen one copy listed on eBay, and it was beyond my budget.  But earlier this year I revised my usual search criteria and lo and behold, there it was.  I won the auction and completed my collection.  My 1931 edition is in fairly rough shape, and actually has a 1932 cover over the original 1931, but the edition is complete - no missing pages.  It's curled on the corners, and I had to do a little restoration, but I'm thrilled that I now have a complete set.

The rare 1931 Christmas Annual

The other interesting aspect of this collection is that the eBay search turned up a record, "Christmas Carols - Favorite Carols from 'An American Annual of Literature and Art' ".  In 1976, Augsburg produced an album of Christmas carols arranged and directed by Robert Schultz.  Each edition of the Annual contained the words and music to a few Christmas carols.  For the album they selected a variety of songs that they had published over the years.  The performers and singers are musicians from the Minneapolis area.

It's a very nice album, the musical selections smartly arranged and performed with reverence and holiday spirit.  The recording was very clean, so the digital transfer sounds fantastic.  The song selections include a few that may be new to you, such as "Now It Is Christmastime", "How Far Is It To Bethlehem?". and "All Men Poor and Humble".  

So, please enjoy "Christmas Carols", produced by Augsburg Publishing House, and enjoy some of the magnificent covers of the "Annual of American Christmas Literature and Art"





1980, 50th edition

1997, final edition


  1. OK, that's pretty amazing! Never knew there was a record associated with these great books. I have a double handful of them, but nothing even close to a complete collection. They're full of great artwork and I enjoy looking through them from time to time. And I always get excited when I find one out on the wild, though I usually can't afford them.

  2. The artwork, both the reproductions of fine art and the originals in these publications, is astounding. The whole process of reproducing artwork on a printed page befuddles me, especially when you look back at the 30s and 40s and what was done then.