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KINGSLEY, Iowa | As far as Lou Hansen knows, not too many people around here know about the Sebastians.

No, it's not some family who lives down the street.

"Sebastians" refer to the Sebastian Miniatures collection, which Lou and her husband Larry have in their Plymouth County home.

Prescott Woodbury Baston Sr. -- whose father was a miniaturist for Olmsted Brothers, the architectural firm that designed New York's Central Park --  created the first miniature in 1938 of a Shaker couple for a friend, who later ordered a thousand to distribute at her restaurant.

Buoyed by the response of that success, Baston visited Carbone, a wholesale gift distributor in Boston and showed them a line of miniature figurines. Those were introduced at the Boston Gift Show in 1939. Again, the response was so positive that Baston set up his own business designing and producing Baston Figurines.

Baston's love of history, literature and theatrics would appear in his presidents and Williamsburg characters; his Dickens, Mark Twain and House of Seven Gables families; and his Shakespearean couples.

But it was decided that "Baston Figurines" was not an adequate title for the line. Sebastian Miniatures was chosen as the new name.

Baston continued to create pieces until his death in 1984. His son, Prescott W. Baston Jr. -- aka Woody -- created his first piece in 1981 and continues to create pieces.

"For me, the fact that they are historical and literary makes them also educational," Hansen said. "Later in Baston's life, when his son took over the company, it eventually merged with the Hudson Company. They began making some of the pieces in pewter. I have two pewter pieces."

Hansen pointed out the pewter figurines are similar to the other miniatures.

"Baston once said his goal was to create honest portrayals and to make them appealing so people would find pleasure in them," she said. "I do!"

Q. When did you start the collection?

A. I started my collection about 1983. I have about 70 now.

Q. What was the first piece?

A. My first piece was gift from my fellow teachers after I had surgery. It was Songs for Cratchits, a part of the Dickens family.

Q. What's the appeal of the Sebastian miniatures for you?

A. The Sebastians appeal to me because they are either historical or literary characters. I like the fact that they are small and don't require a lot of space.

Q. Where do you find the miniatures?

A. Most of the miniatures we have found in antique stores or flea markets. Only my first few were purchased in a store.

Q. What's your favorite piece?

A. My favorite piece is John and Priscilla Alden.

Q. What do family and friends think of the collection?

A. My family has gotten into watching for and buying some of the pieces.

Q. What's missing in this collection that you'd really like to have?

A. There are many groups of miniatures. It would be great to have a complete set of a group. It is hard though because it is hit and miss in finding them. I think they would be more available out East.

Q. Do you collect anything else?

A. I have several P. Buckley Moss prints and plates. We also have quite a few Dept. 56 Snow Village pieces.

Q. Any thought to ever stopping the collection?

A. I don't think I will ever stop collecting them as my family keeps finding more pieces for me. It is always a challenge to look for them. My daughter is especially interested in them, too.

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