Collectible Christmas items range from antique hand-crafted pieces like blown-glass tree ornaments to vintage Christmas decorations and manufactured items like aluminum trees and limited-edition plates, nutcrackers, and cardboard Putz village houses. All are rooted in longstanding traditions: bells and tree ornaments, for example, have been associated with Christmas for hundreds of years.
Until the Victorian era, most Christmas trees were decorated with candles, cookies, and fruit, but in the mid-1800's German craftsmen began producing blown-glass tree ornaments in shapes like stars, fruit, and angels. Thus, the ornament tradition was born. Lauscha was the first company to make molded-glass ornaments, some of which were shaped like pickles (the first child to find the pickle ornament amid the cookie shapes and saints got a year of good luck). Bohemia glassblowers made Gablonz ornaments out of silver-lined glass beads, strung on wire into everything from spiders to zeppelins. Dresden artisans made names for themselves in the 1880s producing embossed cardboard ornaments, which included one-sided "flats" as well as molded and glued three-dimensional pieces.
In the days before electricity, glass ornaments had a practical value as counterweights and shades for candles. Counterweight ornaments looked like their less functional cousins in terms of their designs, but they came equipped with clips so they could be hung from branches. Shade ornaments had the obvious additional value of containing a candle's flame. Around the same time, companies such as Waterford, Swarovski, Baccarat, and Orrefors produced purely decorative crystal ornaments shaped like Santas, bells, and other traditional symbols of the holiday season.
Christmas was also influenced by the development of novelty papier mâché candy containers, which were used as ornaments, even after their contents were consumed. Some families made their own hand-crafted ornaments to hold the goodies hanging from the trees, which made these containers some of the earliest Christmas presents. The simplest design was the candy cornucopia, which was made from a piece of paper rolled into the shape of a cone.
In the 20th century, major retailers like Sears and Montgomery Ward began issuing Christmas catalogs, which themselves are now collectible. Department stores also featured model train sets at Christmas, helping to establish that tradition. Coca-Cola featured Santa Claus heavily in its early advertising, and Coca Cola Christmas items are now highly collectible, as are items as diverse as one of a kind sterling silver tree ornaments, Santa-shaped chocolate molds, and vintage Christmas records.
In a class by itself, though, is Christmas jewelry, as seen in the widespread popularity of costume jewelry Christmas pins and brooches in the shapes of trees, candy canes, and reindeer. Stanley Hagler, Miriam Haskell, and Trifari are just a few of the costume-jewelers known for their Christmas collections.
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Recent News: Christmas
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50 vintage Christmas cards we'd still love to receive todayChron.com, December 16th
Circa 1910: Greeting card features an illustration of Father Christmas (or Santa Claus) as he sits cross-legged in an armchair before a fireplace, accompanied by the text 'Hearty Good Wishes for a Happy Christmas,' 1910. (Photo by Transcendental ...Read more
Jodi McFarland: Make it a vintage Christmas and buy gifts at an antiques storeMLive.com, December 14th
Jeff Schrier | Mlive.com A 1964 ticket stub from the Beatles "Hard Day's Night" movie at the Franklin Theatre is is one of many collectible Saginaw nostalgic gifts available at Antique Warehouse, 1122 Tittabawassee Rd, Kochville Township, Dec. 8, 2014...Read more
“Merry Christmas Honey! I Got You a Vacuum!” 16 Awkwardly Vintage Christmas ...Visual News, December 9th
They sure don't make 'em like they used to… especially when it comes to Christmas advertisements. They were sexist, weird and even downright unhealthy. So grab your matching family pajamas, light up a few smokes, and take a trip down memory lane with ...Read more
Vintage Christmas decorations to debut in downtown Grand RapidsMLive.com, December 9th
Vintage decorations have started going up in parts of downtown Grand Rapids as a throwback to the days before Christmas shopping was something that happened in suburban malls or in front of a computer screen. Filmmakers Teresa Thome and Patrick ...Read more
David & Iris Iwana's vintage ChristmasHonolulu Star-Advertiser, December 9th
David and Iris Iwana have decorated their home with over a dozen Christmas trees, Santa in his sleigh and scores of vintage ornaments and various other Christmas items. Near the front door of their home is a display honoring Rudolph the Red Nosed ...Read more
Trinity Baptist presents 'A Vintage Christmas'The Daily Tribune, December 5th
Trinity Baptist Church presents, “A Vintage Christmas,” a Christmas concert with the Trinity Choir and Orchestra at 6 p.m. this Sunday, Dec 7th. Travel back in time to the 40's, 50's, and 60's as we remember what Christmas is all about. The concert...Read more
Vintage ChristmasOrlando Magazine, December 4th
My favorite holiday has always been Christmas. As a child growing up in the 1970s, one of my fondest memories was going to pick out our tree from the Christmas tree farm, bringing it home, stringing the lights and getting out all of the pretty...Read more
Chestnut Ridge society welcomes collector of Christmas antiquesTribune-Review, November 26th
By 1895, the bulbs were promoted for home use, and by 1903 preassembled strands of Christmas lights were becoming popular. Don Lachie, a collector of vintage Christmas lights and other holiday-related memorabilia, shared these facts and more at a ...Read more