Nativity Scene, Early 1960s, Made in Italy
Complete set here. My mother purchased this nativity scene for our family in the early 1960s in Pittsburgh, PA.
This year I decided to clean it up a bit. I scraped the figurines off of the manger (they were glued on) by using a hair dryer to loosen it up and then use a 5-in-1 painter's tool to pop them off.
Decades of cat piss really smell good when heated. (Get away from there, Ziggy!)
I didn't want to have a Antiques Road Show moment ("it would be worth a trillion dollars if you handn't washed these figurines"), so I just used some common dish detergent and scraped it down with a mini-screwdriver/ scraper thing.
First I soaked them in dish detergent for a while, then used a paper towel to scrub them down. Then I used a little eyeglass-style screwdriver to scrape the grooves and get rid of some of the dirt. I covered the blade of the screwdriver with a paper towel to deaden the scrape. To finish it off, after a figured out that the plastic was pretty sturdy, I used hand soap and toothbrush to scrub the pieces.
Some came cleaner than others. I decided not to worry about it too much, since the colors were pretty vivid and it wasn't that big of a deal to have dirt in the grooves.
The plastic figurines are really well-made-- I didn't make any divots or scrapes in them while cleaning them-- they held up really well. Pretty good for a plain-old off-the-shelf item.
I scraped all of the hay off the floor and sanded the roof down. Next year I might repair the roof as well-- not sure if I want to go that far or if I should just leave it.
Here's the complete set.