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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Bohemian Christmas Decorations
Papa Teds Place
Antique Christmas Lights Museum
Old Soviet Christmas Cards
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Christmas Ornaments
Source: Google News
Retired teachers never forget their studentsOconee Enterprise, January 28th
A teacher never forgets a student, especially when the pupil's name is emblazoned on the back of a Christmas ornament. Retired speech pathologist Gayle Christopher was once given an empty cigar box whose interior was scribbled on with bright-colored ...Read more
Taylor Swift now owns the phrase “This Sick Beat,” all sick beatsA.V. Club Austin, January 28th
Were you planning on making a “This Sick Beat” Christmas ornament to celebrate the birth and blessed sick beats of baby Jesus? Nope, Taylor Swift owns that. Looking to start an “educational service” dedicated to schooling the public on “This Sick Beat...Read more
You Know Gay Ads Have Gone Mainstream When Even Hallmark Is Making ThemAdweek, January 28th
But it evoked some ire from the gay community in 2013 when it replaced the word "gay" with "fun" on a "Deck the Halls" Christmas ornament in 2013. Also, it's one thing to sell gay-friendly merchandise—it's another to feature a gay couple in a...Read more
New Lisbon's Intro to Technology students made ornaments for the public to buy ...Juneau County Star-Times, January 26th
They manufactured three different designs using a laser engraver: a snowflake, Christmas ornament, or a NL ornament. They cost $8 for one or two for $15. The process in making these ornaments is to start by cutting a piece of basswood and putting it in...Read more
A killer instinct for post-Christmas salesCharlotte Observer, January 23rd
It happens every year and it explains why every Christmas ornament in my house, every bit of holiday froufrou, was a minimum 75 percent off and most of it in the 80- or even 90-percent-off range. Once at the store (and yes, my talent tells me which...Read more
Are you missing a special Christmas tree ornament? A Banks Boy Scout Troop ...OregonLive.com, January 13th
Each year, at the end of the holiday season, Boy Scout Troop 581 from Banks collects Christmas trees for a suggested donation, and sends them off to a recyclers. Often trees will have a few ornaments still attached. If seen at the curb, they are left...Read more
Arlington puppy swallows a Christmas ornament hookKING5.com, December 19th
Scout was rushed to Arlington Veterinary Hospital where the x-ray showed a Christmas ornament hook in his stomach. Kellie Bartlett is a Veterinary Technician who treated Scout. "It can catch on the intestines, it can rip the intestines," said Bartlett...Read more
How to DIY a Kim Kardashian #BreakTheInternet ornamentMashable, November 12th
Kim Kardashian's Paper magazine cover is the stuff of a workout guru's dreams and Tumblr-worthy memes. It's only fitting that when presented with such an astounding opportunity, we'd want to take full advantage of all Kardashian has to offer. So, we...Read more