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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Vintage Christmas decorations on display
Mansfield News Journal, December 22nd

This classic Radio Flyer wagon from the private collection of Mike Daniel, who provided a grainy black-and-white picture of the wagon when it was new. (Photo: Submitted photo). 17 CONNECT 1 TWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE. ONTARIO There's a ...Read more

Vintage Christmas decor highlights home
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 20th

Vintage Christmas decor highlights home. Posted: Dec. 20, 2014. Email; Print. Antiques dealer Scott Tagliapietra has decorated his home, which was designed and built in 1949 by one of Frank Lloyd Wright's chief engineers, for Christmas. Prev 1 2 Next...Read more

Vintage Christmas: Some holiday decor never gets old
Pensacola News Journal, December 19th

Styles change so much over the years but we all know vintage is always in. When it comes to fashion and home décor what goes around usually comes back around. When it comes to Christmas decorations there is only one rule — anything goes. As exciting ...Read more

Home Tour: Thousands of priceless Christmas antiques fill Indian Hill home and ...
WCPO, December 19th

Indian Hill resident Beth Karp has been collecting vintage Christmas decorations from around the world. Karp has also contributed to the holiday displays at the Taft Art Musem of Art every year. Emily Maxwell | WCPO. Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc...Read more

50 vintage Christmas cards we'd still love to receive today
Chron.com, December 16th

Sending Christmas cards has been a U.S. holiday tradition for as long as Americans have been licking stamps. If you're putting off getting those last-minute Christmas cards in the mail, you're running out of time. The deadline for First-Class and...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 Rapids
MLive.com, December 9th

Downtown Grand Rapids lit-up for Christmas in the 1960s. (Courtesy | Grand Rapids Public Library, Hero Bratt Collection). Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com · Print · Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com By Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com The Grand ...Read more

Vintage Christmas
Orlando 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