Vintage Shiny Brite Christmas Ornaments

If you are looking for vintage christmas ornaments to give your Christmas tree a unique look this year, vintage Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments are some of my favorite decorations to be on the look out for at thrift stores, antique shops and online at sites like Ebay.

The original Shiny Brite ornaments were conceived of by Max Eckardt. Before World War II, Eckardt, an American businessman, had already been actively importing Christmas tree decorations from Germany. Most decorations for American Christmas trees were imported from Germany at the time and Eckardt's company specialized in hand-blown glass ornaments. These small glass globes were colorful and fun and extremely popular.

Photo credit: TW Collins

vintage Shiny Brite ornaments
vintage Shiny Brite ornaments

With some foresight, Max Eckardt determined that as the likelihood of war drew closer, his supply of ornaments from Germany would dry up rather quickly. So he decided to start making glass Christmas ornaments in the United States, rather than continuing to import them.

The Corning Glass Company was approached as a possible supplier and soon a business agreement was struck. Corning Glass was soon making Christmas ornaments in their light bulb manufacturing plants, after a handy adaptation of their own light bulb making methods.

Once the ornaments were made, Corning shipped some to Woolworths and the rest were sent on to Eckardt's own factories, where the unadorned glass ornaments could be decorated by hand after under-going a machine lacquering process.

Wartime shortages soon made both silver and lacquer scarce, so Eckardt began decorating his ornaments in bright colors and pastels instead.

This turned out to be a serendipitious move on his part because the uniqueness of the new Shiny Brite ornaments made them very popular. If you had Christmas tree in your home back in the 1940s, it was mostly likely decorated with many Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments.

By the time World War II ended, Shiny Brite was the largest manufacturer of Christmas ornaments in the entire world, and their popularity lasted well into the Fifties.

The original glass ornaments stayed in manufacture until 1962, when, due to production issues and other business changes, Shiny Brite started manufacturing plastic ornaments. They failed to capture the public's imagination however and never achieved the popularity of the original Shiny Brite glass ornaments.

Today, Shiny Brite is just as popular as ever with collectors of vintage Christmas decorations. Demand for the original vintage Shiny Brites is quite high, but supply is fairly decent as well since they were a hugely popular item for over a decade.

There is really only one thing to be wary of when you are shopping for authentic vintage Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments.

If you are using Ebay to shop, many vintage ornaments are misnamed. I think some sellers think that shiny brite is a catchall name for any vintage glass ornament, but it is actually the trade name for ornaments manufactured by a specific company.

So to make sure you are getting authentic ornaments, I would look to purchase items that come with their original packaging material. It doesn't matter if the box is battered, it just needs to say Shiny Brite on it. That's your assurance that you are getting what you expect.

I think the Shiny Bright ornaments look really great on vintage Aluminum Christmas trees as well, so be sure to take a look at some of those while you are at it. They are quite striking and don't need a lot of ornamentation to really shine.

Christopher Radko's Shiny Brite Ornaments

Also, the Christopher Radko company bought the rights to the name Shiny Brite several years ago and his company now makes reproductions of the original ornament.These are some beautiful looking ornaments and of course they look extra nice because they are brand new, shiny and bright. :)

These are a great option for buyers who just want the look of a more old-fashioned Christmas ornament and don't want to worry about caring for delicate vintage ornaments. If the cat knocks one off the tree, you can always replace it.. So if you want new Christmas ornaments, look for Radko's Shiny Brites. I've listed a few here that you can probably order from Amazon and have arrive before Christmas.

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Comments 5 comments

Polly 5 years ago

I have shiny brights from 1965! And have Radko ones also and it is hard to tell the difference because every year we have always wrapped our ornaments in tissue paper and packed them carefully with towels and bubble wrap. Old fashioned ornaments are the best, bar none!


Jeff 5 years ago

My parents had shiny brites when I was growing up in the early 60's. All but 4 were broken and I have those. I have also received 2 boxes from an aunt that I will keep in the family. Over the years I have collected quite a lot of shiny brites from ebay and antique sales. I always buy a live tree to put the ornaments on. All my friends and family agree it looks like their grandparents Christmas tree. I treasure these ornaments as a link to my past. One other thing to add to the article above to tell an authentic shiny brite is to look at the silver top. It is "krinkled" or wavy on the sides and it has "shiny brite" written on top around the hole. I agree. Old fashioned ornaments are the best!


Caroline 5 years ago

I too have many of my parents & grandparents ornaments that have survived the years! Sometimes my family thinks I am a little crazy for caring so much about our families past! The old ornaments, like many other old items, really are the best & they mean the most to me!


delite 4 years ago

have a 3 boxrs of these bulbs they are in a green and light brown box how old?


Bodeen 4 years ago

I have some in the shape of a santa. I think they might be from Fantasia?? They still date back to the same early 60s era though. Any info on them?

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