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...
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 decorated, often by hand. The largest of these symbiotic business relationships was between the Corning Company and Shiny Brite. In 1940, Corning was producing as many as 300,000 ornaments a day, which Shiny Brite decorated and packaged from 1937 until 1962—you can date the ones produced during World War II because their metal caps were replaced with cardboard ones to save metal.
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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Recent News: Christmas Ornaments
Source: Google News
View from Main StreetFremont Tribune, June 18th
Non-farming crafts vendors are welcome. Events are normally Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Christmas ornament. Our first Main Street Association Collector's Series Christmas ornament honoring our Victorian Christmas-On-Main has arrived...Read more
Two Men, Dog Stabbed In Violent Edmonton Home InvasionHuffington Post Canada, June 15th
Wagner was arrested in Southington, Conn. after allegedly stabbing a woman with a Christmas ornament while fleeing from a craft fair vendor that accused her of shoplifting. The victim tried to block Wagner's escape, but was slashed with a seashell ...Read more
Big and fancy, fast, fun or just efficient, cars move usThe Seattle Times, June 14th
In addition to the bull horns, he hung a big Christmas ornament from the rearview mirror and attached a ski rack to the trunk hood with skateboards on it. This spring, he painted daisies on the side panels to create the illusion that flowers are...Read more
Disney World: Shoes have soles, no facesOrlando Sentinel (blog), June 14th
Costa Alavezos, an artist with the Disney Design Group. Click here to read more about the Disney shoe ornament collection. Topics: Amusement and Theme Parks. Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel. os-disney-world-shoe-christmas-ornament-20130614...Read more
Jeb Bush Adds 'Immigrants Are More Fertile' to Reform DebateABC News (blog), June 14th
“Faith isn't a Christmas ornament,” the 2012 vice presidential nominee told the audience. “It's not something that you take out on a seasonal basis.” As Republicans grapple with an internal tug-of-war on the direction of the party, Faith and Freedom...Read more
Bellamy Bridge to be subject of 2013 ornament, previous pieces to be offered ...Jackson County Floridan, June 4th
Bellamy Bridge will be featured on this year's local Easter Seals Christmas Ornament, according to Nan Harkleroad, project coordinator. And the real estate agent had other big news this week; she found a complete set of ornaments from the 17-year-old ...Read more
Keepsake Christmas ornament free for the askingCedarrepublican, June 4th
If you missed getting keepsake A Living Christmas ornament from Cedar County Republican over the years, you now have a second chance. The newspaper has a limited number of these collectible ornaments available for the asking. Drop by the office and ...Read more
State Capitol Christmas ornament to celebrate black bear's recoveryDaily Comet (blog), May 21st
Proceeds from the ornament's sale will go to the Louisiana Capitol Foundation, which has for the past 15 years commissioned the official Christmas ornament of the Capitol. State Capitol Christmas ornament to celebrate black bear's recoveryThe Courier...Read more