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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The Christmas Ornament, for example, even beat out its broadcast competition. Meanwhile, its first weekly scripted drama Cedar Cove, which debuted last summer and is (based on Debbie Macomber's popular book series), has also very proven quite popular ...Read more
If given the option, make the local ChoiceGladwin County Record, March 11th
A Michigan made copper Christmas ornament hangs on the Alexanders' tree. Made in Michigan is just one aspect of the “buy local” philosophy. Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 8:03 am. If given the option, make the local Choice by Wes and Cyndi Alexander ...Read more
Wes World: The Cut-to-Fit Universe of Wes AndersonRollingStone.com, March 11th
He's been called a master of hip cinematic heartbreak who deals in worlds as shiny and perfect as a Christmas ornament — or, put more charitably, a virtuoso at making pathos both wrenching and witty in a idiosyncratic, individual style. You always...Read more
Upland Chronicles: Artist uses creativity to honor her daughterThe Mountain Press, March 8th
After losing her only child, Bobbie adamantly looked for ways to crawl out of the darkness through her paintbrush. By this time she was an accomplished still-life artist. She hand-painted a Christmas ornament with scenes of Pigeon River Bluff...Read more
Teen Causes 23 Crashes After Stealing Truck: CopsHuffington Post, March 5th
The 16-year-old Arcadia teen is accused of stealing a truck and causing at least 23 crashes on Tuesday, according to WFLA. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said the teen was riding his bicycle when he spotted the Ford F350 sitting in an auto shop...Read more
Beach Cliff Biddies began in wake of Rocky River tragedy, now inviting new ...The Plain Dealer, March 4th
roast at Oakwood Beach in Oct., and the traditional Dec. Christmas ornament exchange, was held March 4th at the home of Heather Carroll. For information on The Beach Cliff Biddies, contact Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org. View/Post...Read more
"SNL" Welcomes New "Weekend Update" Co-Anchor, Mocks OscarsNBC Bay Area, March 2nd
And as for his sense of fashion, he credited his parents: “My mother is a school teacher and my father is a Christmas ornament." In his opening monologue Parsons, said that after seven seasons of "The Big Bang Theory," he's frequently confused with his ...Read more
Christmas ornaments are a tribute to 7-year-old boy battling cancerBoston.com, February 21st
This photo of Nathan is printed on the Christmas ornament. (Norman family photo) Norman This photo of Nathan is printed on the Christmas ornament. (Norman family photo). When Nathan was 5 years old, he asked his parents to put their Christmas tree up...Read more