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Jay W. Christopher's Personal Collections

Collecting began in childhood, as a young boy, Jay would eagerly gather, meticulously organize and creatively display his primitive collections.  From his mother's canned goods in the pantry to discarded Christmas trees in his parent's backyard to metal toy soldiers, Jay found great joy and pride in assembling collections that capture fond memories, preserve history, and represent hard-work.  

Jay's first job in high school was at the local hardware store, Dressel's Ace Hardware, in Oak Park, Illinois.  He thoroughly enjoyed organizing the many little drawers of nuts, bolts, nails and shelf displays keeping inventory stocked and perfectly in line.  This experience and his natural inclination for collecting was foundational to his career success in inventory management and warehouse operations.  

For many years, Jay diligently saved objects of corporate history and product development at the companies he worked at.  Most significant was the preservation of his family's entrepreneurial start-up company's history, The Pampered Chef. 

Today, Jay continues to be a collector and preserver of history as his passion extends to  eras of industrial ingenuity and innovation. The following collections are housed at Jay's private residence for his enjoyment and are shared with the public through temporary exhibits.

Railroad Collection

The Railroad Collection at the Christopher Transportation Museum is the museum’s first collection. The Railroad Collection proudly presents a wonderful narrative that includes every aspect of early railroading in the United States and abroad. From the tools and lanterns used by train crew members, to the exquisitely detailed ceramic dining china used in the impressive dining cars, to the menus and recipe books used by the kitchen and dining car staff, the Christopher Transportation Museum’s Railroad Collection allows visitors to get a first hand look at what it was like to work, travel, and most importantly eat on illustrious trains.

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Airline Collection

The Christopher Transportation Museum’s Airline Collection represents the passenger experience during the golden age of air travel. In comparison to air travel today, the airline collection showcases the grandeur of flight through artifacts like uniquely patterned dining china, ashtrays, silverware, glassware, advertisements, and photographs from both well-known and obscure airlines found around the globe. The collection offers visitors the chance to view wonderful pieces from airlines such as Pan Am, TWA, United Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, and even Air Force 1, Marine 1, and Air Force 2.

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Airship Collection

The Christopher Transportation Museum is home to the Townsend & Wolfe Zeppelin Collection, and integral part of the Christopher Transportation Zeppelin Collection. This collection preserves the historical significance of the Zeppelin Company as it weaved through the military conflicts of World War I and World War II. As the first aircraft capable of controlled flight, Zeppelins were known as a symbol of power, inspiration, and advancement to many. The collection contains a vast array of artifacts ranging from medals and postcards to a ceramic pitcher and platter that both survived the infamous crash of the mighty Hindenburg in 1937.

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The Christopher Transportation Museum’s Civil War and Patriotic Cover Collection consists of 370 covers that represent the differentiating view points of the North and South during the American Civil War. Printing agencies on either side of the war would create stationary that was illustrated in great detail and used to support their side of the cause.

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Architectural Newel Post Collection

The Jay W. Christopher Architectural Collection contains more than 80 newels and over 50 finials dating from the late 19th to the early 20th century. A Newel post is the supporting pillar of a staircase and a finial is a decorative ornament placed on the apex of a pediment, the ends of a chair’s upright supports, or a top a newel post. The Christopher Transportation Museum places the newels and finials on display as a piece of art and sculpture where each piece offers an excellent example of differing architectural style periods in the United States.

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Salesman Sample Collection

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Siegl Santa Collection

The Siegl Santa Collection, carved over a 22 year period, was purchased by Jay W. Christopher in the spring of 2014 from Helene Siegl of Fort Collins, Colorado. The Siegl Santa’s were crafted from the finest Wisconsin Linden wood. Each Santa Claus was rough cut with a band saw then skillfully hand carved with European style gouges. Each figure was hand painted by Helene Siegl with fine acrylic paints and lastly, permanently sealed. Siegl’s playful, vivid imagination inspired the collection of over 100 unique Santa’s from around the world. Santa’s are depicted as Scandinavian, German, Irish, Swiss, Austrian and American. Other Santa’s are busy carving wood, hiking, cooking, sleeping and sledding. The family of Santa’s elicits the joy of Christmas year round for viewers.

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White House Ornament Collection

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wanted to create an organization that provided education and enhanced appreciation of the White House and in 1961 founded the White House Historical Association to carry out this mission. Starting in 1981 and continuing today, the White House Historical Association designs and releases yearly an official White House Ornament in which all proceeds benefit the association and support the preservation of the White House and its artifacts. The theme of each year’s ornament varies from an individual president to important White House events, such as 2012’s ornament honoring the first presidential automobile introduced to the White House by William Howard Taft in 1909. The Christopher Transportation Museum proudly displays this collection of ornaments during the holiday season and is excited to watch it grow in future years.

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Steamship Collection

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