Part of the thrill of the holidays is memories. Remembering trimming the tree or coming downstairs to find the tree lit and sparkling brings happiness to most people. You can replicate those trees from your memory by finding old time vintage ornaments.
Thrift shops abound with vintage Christmas decorations and ornaments. Sometimes sold singly, other times several together in plastic bags, you can usually find ornaments for well under a dollar. Here are some tips on what to look for.
If an ornament has patina on it, it is usually very old. Some may also have cracking on it, known as crazing.
While the style of the cap can be one indicator of age, caps get changed around all of the time. They get lost, they break, they rust, so because of that they get switched. To tell if the ornament is really vintage or a good reproduction, look at the topper and hanger. Gold, thin metal or plastic toppers & hangers can indicate it is a newer ornament, possibly a reproduction. Also look for a seam, because if you see a seam down the sides, it’s most likely a reproduction, not an original handblown.
German, Polish, Austrian, Italian or French handblown glass ornaments come in a variety of shapes: Houses, churches, fruits, nuts, hot air balloons, flowers, baskets with flowers, birds, etc. The metal tops may indicate which country they are from. Especially popular are icicles, handblown and hand painted in multi colors, or metallic silver. Beautiful vintage Polish ornaments are usually hand painted with intricate flowers, feathers and dots.
Wartime (1940’s) glass balls were painted, but not with metallic paints like gold or silver. All metal was reserved for fabrication for the war, so for a short period of time, vintage ornaments were transparent, clear, or opaque, and were fitted with paper caps. Look for primary colored solids (red, yellow & blue) on clear glass, with dots, stripes or topped with snow. The cap might say MADE IN USA.
Vintage 1950’s glass ornaments come in a variety of sizes, colors and prints. The most popular colors are reds, pinks, mossy greens and icy blues. Look for metallic paint, little frosty scenes or greetings stenciled on the balls. Other unusual types include starburst centers which are called indents, and flocking which mimics snow. A popular company at that time was Shiny Brite. Shiny Brite ornaments are very easy to find on Ebay or at thrift shops. They look great displayed on wreaths, trees, or in large bowls. The term “Shiny Brite” refers to a particular manufacturer, not a style of ornament.
If you are interested in joining a club devoted to collecting Christmas ornaments, information about The Golden Glow can be found here http://www.goldenglow.org.