Vintage Christmas ornaments
Christmas ornaments are decorative objects made to adorn Christmas trees. History
Before the middle of the 1800s, decorations for Christmas trees were mostly homemade or edible fruits. It was German traders from the glassblowing region of Lauscha who first thought of making decorations made from blown glass. F.W. Woolworth was the man credited for bringing the first of these glass adornments to the US in the 1880s.
The first designs of Lauscha decorative items were inspired by nuts and fruits. These were used for games, where children were supposed to compete against each other on who would be able to find a glass adornment first in a tree. Next designs that came up were inspired by cookie mould shapes such as stars and hearts. This was succeeded by animals, children and saints.
Also during the mid 1880s, glassblowers from northern Bohemia (now named Czech Republic) started making Glablonz adornments from glass beads that were lined with silver. Craftsmen made these ornaments by stringing the beads together to form various shapes such as spiders, stars, chandeliers, and windmills. Later on they began to use more transportation inspired designs such as bicycles, airplanes, zeppelins, and boats.
Around 1880, nine manufacturers in Dresden began producing embossed cardboard adornments, which today are highly sought by collectors. Some had prints on just one side while some had both sides printed. Designs that were widely used then were birds of prey, lions, polar bears, vegetables, owls, fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Those that featured ostriches and religious images such as angels were not that widely circulated, making them highly collectible today. Dresden ornaments that had the most decorations, where those made of two moulded pieces that had been fused together by glue. Colours that were often used to decorate these adornments included bronze, silver, and red.
One interesting Dresden ornament subset is those created between the 1930s and 1960s, which featured Soviet pictures and images. Themes included a silver star with a hammer and sickle and a Russian cosmonaut.
After the First World War, German ornament manufacturers ceased to be active. American companies filled this void and began producing in mass quantities ornaments which were sent to other firms to be painted or decorated mostly by hand. Examples of companies that engaged in this type of partnership were Shiny Brite and Corning Company.
In the year 1940, Corning was making close to 300,000 ornaments in a single day, which they then passed on to Shiny Brite who decorated and packaged them. These two companies collaborated with one another from 1937 to 1962. Ornaments made by these two companies during the Second World War can be distinguished by their cardboard caps. Traditionally made of metal, Corning had to make use of substitute materials for making caps as metal at that time was scarce.
Vintage Christmas ornament collecting
Many collectors of antique and vintage Christmas ornaments tend to concentrate on certain shapes, materials, periods or themes. For instance those who collect Shiny Brite ornaments, look for sets that are in their original colourful box.
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