Until the mid-1800’s, Christmas trees were mostly decorated with homemade adornments or edibles like fruits and nuts. But the German entrepreneurs based in the glassblowing center of Lauscha had a better idea. They began producing decorative tree ornaments made out of blown glass. In the 1880s, F.W. Woolworth imported the first of these baubles into the U.S., triggering the American love affair with Christmas tree ornaments.
The first molded-glass Lauscha ornaments resembled fruits and nuts, presumably to replicate the tradition of putting the real things on trees. Glass pickles, of all things, were also produced. These were reportedly hung on trees in order to make a game of seeing which child could find it first—the reward was a year of good luck. Cookie shapes such as hearts and stars followed the food ornaments, while ornaments depicting children, saints, and animals appeared shortly after that.
Around the same time in northern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), glassblowers were making what are now known as Gablonz ornaments out of silver-lined glass beads. Wire was used to string the beads together in a variety of shapes—from windmills and chandeliers to spiders and stars. Later, between the wars, transportation-themed ornaments appeared resembling boats, zeppelins, airplanes, and bicycles.
Meanwhile, in Dresden, beginning in about 1880, some nine different companies were making embossed cardboard ornaments, which are highly collectible today. Some were printed on just one side (referred to as "flat" by collectors) while others were printed on both ("double"). The most elaborate of the Dresden ornaments were those built of two molded pieces that had been glued together. Colors ranged from silver and bronze (to replicate the look of metal) to naturalistic hues (as you might guess, lobster ornaments were painted red).
Early catalogs by Dresden manufacturers such as Edvard Witte show menageries of common barnyard creatures as well as more exotic beasts—lions, polar bears, birds of prey. Eagles and owls were especially popular, and if you are in possession of an ostrich pulling a cart, then you own a particularly rare Dresden ornament. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables were common, but angels and other ornaments with religious themes were less so, making them more collectible today.
A particularly interesting subset of Dresden ornaments are those made between the 1930s and 1960s, reflecting the Soviet influence on that part of Germany. Some of these so-called Russian Dresdens seem oblivious to the political winds that swirled around them—a clown head, a man walking a dog, Puss ’n’ Boots—but when the ornament consists of a silver star with a hammer and sickle in its center from 1935, or a cute little waving Cosmonaut from 1960, the intended message is obviously more overt.
The handmade German ornament trade foundered after World War I, so American manufacturers filled the void, mass-producing ornaments that were sent to other companies to be decora...
Today, collectors of antique and vintage Christmas tree ornaments tend to focus on themes, periods, materials, or even shapes. For collectors of Shiny Brite in particular, a set of ornaments in its original festively colored box is also desirable.
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New Braunfels Public Library to Hold Christmas Tree Ornament ExchangeRadio NB, November 24th
(New Braunfels, TX) – The New Braunfels Public Library will hold its very first Christmas Tree Ornament Exchange on Saturday, December 5th at 1:00 p.m. in the library's meeting room. Patrons may bring in a Christmas ornament and exchange it for one ...Read more
Baby's First Christmas Ornament Canada: You'll Want To Cherish These ForeverHuffington Post Canada, November 24th
One of the best ways to mark your baby's first Christmas is by getting a personalized ornament to hang on the tree. Not only can you pass this on to your baby when he or she is grown, but it's something your family can cherish forever. If you need some...Read more
In Case You Missed It: 2015 Rolan Johnson Christmas OrnamentCIproud.com, November 23rd
Sister Paula Vasquez and Sister Irene Fritch of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception in West Peoria introduced us to their 21st Christmas ornament. Its titled "Love Was Born at Christmas." If you're interested in buying the ornament, they are $34...Read more
YaloRUN Textiles Hosts Children's Christmas Ornament WorkshopHottyToddy.com, November 23rd
Children will make salt dough following a recipe and design their very own Christmas ornament. “I like to go from the very, very beginning of the process to the very end,” Fussell said. “They'll be doing everything, learning about modeling shapes. They...Read more
'The Christmas Ornament': Adorns Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel Tonight ...The Inquisitr, November 22nd
The Christmas Ornament is a wonderful holiday movie that is slated to premiere tonight on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The Inquisitr recently covered a new movie on their sister channel (Hallmark) entitled Northpole: Open For Christmas. The...Read more
Scott County Chamber unveils 2015 Christmas ornamentKingsport Times News, November 17th
GATE CITY — The Scott County Chamber of Commerce's limited edition, collectible Christmas ornaments are now available. 2. The 2015 ornament is inspired by a photo taken by local photographer Jennifer Fletcher Meade and features a cardinal, Virginia's ...Read more
City Christmas ornament available nowGreat Falls Tribune, November 16th
The Great Falls-Cascade County Historic Preservation Advisory Commission selected the Charles M. Russell Studio as the featured resource for 2015. Designed by local artist Sheree Nelson, the ornaments are available for purchase starting on Nov. 16, for ...Read more
RSVP offers Christmas ornamentEnid News & Eagle, November 15th
“Christmas Morning Ride” is in two colors this year and depicts a cowboy on a bucking bronc. There are 500 ornaments for sale for $25. Purchase of the ornaments qualifies as a tax-deductible donation to the RSVP program. “RSVP volunteers saved our ...Read more