Top Quirky Christmas Collectibles to Be on the Lookout for This Holiday Season…

December 13th, 2023

Photo by Cris Dinoto

From Shiny Bright Christmas ornaments, vintage 1960’s Aluminum Christmas trees, to blow mold Santa’s, these top collectibles are in high demand this festive season….

Everyone knows at least one person who goes absolutely bonkers over Christmas. You know the type, garland covering every banister, big, life-sized Santa with all 12 reindeer in the front yard, wreaths everywhere, and an endless variety of Noel themed, knick knacks as far as the eye can see.

Well, it turns out, some of these collectibles can be worth some real money, while other, vintage items which earn big style points, are even cheaper than what a new, Walmart, prefabricated, plastic import might cost.

Christmas festive lights adorn a house at The Boulevard Christmas Lights Display on December 22, 2009 in Ivanhoe on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia. Residents cover their homes and gardens with lights and Christmas decorations every year, attracting upto 20,000 people every night and bringing local traffic to a standstill. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

While most people think of Christmas trees as big, green, aromatic additions to the home for the holidays, complete with lights, ornaments, candy canes, garlands and several presents grouped around its base, some collectors are buying Christmas trees, year-round.

Not live trees of course, but rather the mid-century gems; small, table-top ceramic trees, blow mold trees, and one of this years most sought after rarities; “The Sparkler Pom Pom Aluminum Christmas Tree” made by the Star Band Co. from 1960-1962 in Portsmouth, VA.

We found several selling on eBay, a small 3 foot tree with a starting bid of $92.55 and a 7ft model with a buy it now price of $1,388.18. Nothing says kitch, quirky or vintage better than a shiny, all aluminum tree. These mid-century statement pieces are spectacular, and, have a zero carbon footprint.

Vintage 4′ Pom Pom Aluminum Christmas Tree. Photo © Everything But the House

As with every generation, we long for the nostalgia of our childhood years, and what’s better than combining that nostalgia, the passion for collecting and having an excuse to display everything for the world to see, once a year…that’s what Christmas collectibles are all about.

Germany leads the charge when it comes to high end Christmas decor, from antique Dresden cardboard ornaments selling anywhere from $25 to $7,000, to hand painted, tin, tree candle holders, (beautiful, but dangerous to say the least), which can bring anywhere from $15 to $250 each.

Rare antique Dresden Christmas ornament. Photo © Soulis Auctions

In October, 2021 a Dresden cardboard ornament depicting a swan shaped sleigh, pulled by two elegant horses with a woman in full fur, sitting in the back, sold for over $7,000 USD. Certainly a very rare and early example, but considering the fact that genuine Dresdens were produced between 1880 and 1910, it’s amazing any have survived at all. However, since they were made from cardboard, thousands of ornaments were produced over the course of 30 years and finding less complex examples is relatively easy on both eBay and Etsy. We found a nice variety of antique Dresdens selling anywhere from a start bid price of $15 USD for a 19th century Camel with beautiful raised and painted detail to Dresden Butterflies selling for between $400 USD to $1500 USD on other online platforms, but beware, their are a lot of “Dresden” ornaments selling online that were made in Eastern Europe between 1920-1950. Most are selling for less than $25 USD and clearly lack the detail found in genuine, early Dresden ornaments.

Vintage Shiny Brite lantern ornaments from the 1950’s displayed in original box at Dream in San Mateo, California, on October 10, 2013. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The Shiny Brite Company, also, originally from Germany, was formed in partnership with Corning Glass in 1939 and remained in business until the early 1960’s. They were, for many years the leading manufacturer of Christmas ornaments throughout the US and their brightly colored hand blown mercury glass ornaments are instantly recognizable to generations. They are always in bright metallic colors, stenciled with patterns or seasons greetings around the sides, sometimes they take in the form of Santa or an Angel and, are unmistakably stylish and vintage. Boxes of four circa 1940’s ornaments, start around $40 and larger lots with multiple boxes, are selling on eBay for between $60 and $179 USD.

These are timeless, time capsules that can be used year after year and at a cost of less than $10 each, a wonderful excuse to start collecting Christmas vintage.

Lighted Ceramic tree by Trim and Glo. Photo by Sailing / Licence CC BY-SA 3.0 (image slightly cropped)

Ceramic Christmas trees were a relatively short lived phenomenon, popping up in the marketplace around 1950 and finishing their run in the 1960’s when the more popular blow molds began to dominate the scene.

Most of the vintage ceramic trees came with lights and were painstakingly assembled by the lucky buyer and once everything was put together, with any luck, you’d have a table top tree that lites up. These trees offer great value, don’t take up much space, and are a great homage to chic mid-century modern style.

They are typically selling for between $25 and $225 each in a wide variety of colors and configurations, on both eBay and Etsy.

1968 Empire Plastic Santa blow mold, sold alongside other vintage Christmas items at Adam’s Northwest Estate Sales & Auctions in 2023. Photo © Adam’s Northwest Estate Sales & Auctions

Of all the Christmas collectibles, Blow Molds, or Light Ups, as some people call them, are without a doubt, the quirkiest. They come in all shapes and sizes, rarely break the bank, as most are selling at auction and on eBay, for between $15 and $60 USD each.

The blow mold process was developed in the 1930’s with cellulose acetate for use in industrial manufacturing, essentially plastic is “blown” through a pipe, into a metal mold, and once cooled, the mold is opened and the sculpture is complete.

With the advent of polypropylene in the 1960’s, the process became much easier and less expensive, and as a result, inexpensive, mass produced kitch was possible.

Each figure was hand painted and wired for lighting in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from lifesized Santa Claus’s to snowmen, reindeer, nativity scenes, nutcrackers and Christmas trees….Beco, Poloron Products, Union Products and NOMA, were some of the first to produce blow mold Christmas figures and these often have a greater level of detail than pieces produced in the 70’s-90’s. But whatever your taste or period you prefer, you’ll make a statement with vintage decor.

One of the 3.000 stars, made with Swarovski cristal facets which decorate a 15 high-meter illuminated Christmas tree, on December 4, 2010 in Megeve ski station. AFP PHOTO – JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images)

And to round out the top list of Christmas collectibles, let’s not forget about the higher end, “très chic”, and not so quirky, classic collectibles like Swarovski Crystal Ornaments, Tiffany Christmas Charms, and Baccarat Crystal Christmas Trees.

We all wish you a Merry Holiday season here at Collectors Weekly and hope you will enjoy the journey that is collecting.

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