Bob Elliott collects Nativity scenes and currently has 480 in his collection.
Bob Elliott collects Nativity scenes and currently has 480 in his collection.

December 23, 2017

In the past few years, Bob Elliott has almost doubled his Nativity-scene collection.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that means he now has a half-dozen of the knick-knacks depicting Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and animals in a stable at the scene of Jesus’ birth.

He has 480 of them.

And that doesn’t include the dozens, if not hundreds, of Nativity-themed ornaments that hang on Christmas trees and from mantles around his Main Street home.

Elliott has been adding to the collection for about 30 years, and it takes more than a month to set the scenes up each year. He sometimes offers tours of his Nativity-filled home during the holiday season. When they’re not displayed, the pieces fill about 40 tote boxes.

The house includes themed rooms with corresponding Nativity scenes and Christmas tree decorations. A nautical room includes a tree with sea-related ornaments and a small Nativity scene incorporated into a conch shell. An American-themed room includes a red, white and blue tree, all of Elliott’s Nativities in those colors and other patriotic paraphernalia. The kitchen features gingerbread-themed items. Other rooms feature cardinals, dogs and medical items. In one room, all of the scenes are wooden. A library has Nativity scenes incorporated into its shelves of books.

And the large majority of his Nativity scenes were purchased at the New Hope Village Bargain Shoppe. The dining room alone holds almost 200 Nativity scenes.

When he’s shopping, Elliott can always tell if a Nativity scene in the store is a duplicate of one he has, despite the extent of his collection. The only scene that appears twice in his home depicts a guardian angel with her wings shielding the stable.

He likes it, so he’s OK with the duplication.

And he’s willing to add to his collection if he finds something unique.

There are scenes made in Peru, Italy and Africa.

In one Nativity scene, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the wise men and the shepherds all are black.

He’s particularly proud of his Thomas Kinkade set. For some time, he saw the wise men pieces at the Bargain Shoppe and didn’t buy them, but one day, the entire set was put out. He snapped them all up.

He has a stained-glass Nativity and a cookie-jar scene. One doubles as a nightlight.

An intricately detailed Nativity scene is made from silver and stands less than an inch tall, encased inside a velvety red case shaped like a rose. That’s one of his favorites.

Another favorite scene is a large garage-sale find, surrounded by palm trees Elliott made himself with pieces of Christmas trees and ferns.

Some of his shopping trips produce full Nativity scenes, stables and all. Others have smaller yields.

“Sometimes I just find the stables and then I just marry them together (with other sets),” he said.

He’s still hunting for a scene that has Joseph holding the baby Jesus.

He feels the scenes are the perfect depiction of what Christmas is about.

“That’s what Christmas is — that God is with us,” he said.

“I just like Christmas.”