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Vintage Christmas Ornaments a Unique Way to Decorate

Updated on July 3, 2014
Vintage Nativity Ornament
Vintage Nativity Ornament
Chenille Japanese Christmas Ornaments
Chenille Japanese Christmas Ornaments

Vintage to Victorian

Decorating with vintage Christmas ornaments is a fun way to brighten the holidays and conjure up the spirit of Christmas past. When collecting a fun place to start is with glass ball ornaments from the 1950s and 1960s. This is not to say that there are not Christmas decorative ornaments from other eras that are collected. World War II and Victorian tree ornaments are some of the ornaments you may come across when looking for vintage ornaments to hang from your tree. Victorian ornaments are highly prized. They tend to be more elaborate and richly decorated than ornaments from the 1950s. The Victorian ornaments may also have a higher price tag due to their popularity. If you come across an ornament and are doubtful of its origins or age it will pay off in the long run by doing a little research. Here is a brief overview.

Victorian glass ornaments are very detailed and opulent. There are three common types of Victorian ornaments that you may run across in your searches at flea markets, antique shops or the Internet. They are wire wrapped ornaments, kugels and blown glass ornaments.

World War II era ornaments are often glass. They lack the tops made from metal that ornaments of the 1950s and 60's have. Usually the tops were made from paper. Metal was not used in production in order to assist the effort to collect scrap metal. Highly collectible, these ornaments can be found in limited quantity due to the fact that they were only produced for a short period of time.

Old ornaments from the 1950s and 60's include brands as Shiny Brite and a style often referred to as mercury glass ornaments. Collectors of decorations from this era also enjoy collecting bubble lights and whimsical Christmas elements. Let's discuss the ornaments in detail a bit further so that you have a decent understanding and can stay in step with the old adage of buyer beware.

Antique Victorian German Wire Wrapped Christmas Ornament
Antique Victorian German Wire Wrapped Christmas Ornament | Source
Kugel Style Glass Victorian Ornament
Kugel Style Glass Victorian Ornament

Victorian Christmas Ornaments

Glass ornaments from the Victorian Era are highly prized. They are extremely decorative and stylized. It is common to see birds as a theme in the ornamentation. The birds are usually of glass and will clip on to the branches of the Christmas tree. Glass hanging ornaments may also be in the shape of other elements like fruit.

Victorian wire wrapped ornaments come in various shapes and sizes. They are wrapped in silver wire because this ornamentation helped to reflect light. They were often further decorated with pieces of fabric or metal trim and are prized for there uniqueness and detail. Prices commanded for these wire wrapped ornaments can reach one hundred dollars or more per ornament.

Kugels are a glass ornament. They are quite heavy and can be distinguished by their brass caps. They are blown glass elements with thick walls and silver lined interiors. Various colors, sizes and shapes can be found in a kugel glass ornament for the tree. Prices for these ornaments fall into the 20 dollar range per piece.

Hand blown ornaments are usually large and reflective balls for the tree. They are distinguished by the cap on the top. This cap was glued to the top of the ornament. Unlike kugels, a Victorian blown glass ornament tends to be very thin. It is this style of ornament that prompted a huge increase in production of glass ball ornaments that extends to current times.

Shiny Brite Boxed Glass Ornaments circa 1950
Shiny Brite Boxed Glass Ornaments circa 1950
Vintage Jewelbrite Ornament circa 1960
Vintage Jewelbrite Ornament circa 1960

Vintage Ornaments from the 50's and 60's

Some of the most common ornaments found when shopping for an ornament from the 1950s will be Shiny Brite ornaments. These ornaments have been produced in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The problem with purchasing Shiny Brite ornaments from a dealer, retailer or online is that you may end up purchasing an original box but not the original ornament. Again, buyer beware. This happens because owners of ornaments are often in a hurry to pack away their Christmas decorations after the holidays. The ornaments get placed into whatever box is convenient at the moment. So, ornaments are like a box of chocolates, "you never know what you are going to get." Education is they key here. Shiny Brite ornaments are often confused with the brand called Premier ornaments. Premier ornaments may be similar in style to Shiny Brite but they are harder to find. Prices start in the $20 range for a box of Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments. Knowing the styles of ornaments that were produced by Shiny Brite will give you a better chance of buying an authentic product.

In the 1960s one starts to see the use of plastic and a development of a more modern look for Christmas ornaments. Jewel Brite is a common brand of plastic ornaments. The plastic ornaments were popular because of their light weight. They were designed to sit on the branches of aluminum Christmas trees that were so popular during that time frame. Bradford is another common brand name found when looking for vintage plastic Christmas ornaments from the 60's. Prices start at approximately $15 for a set of Jewel Brites in their original box.

Where to Buy Vintage Ornaments

Ideally the best way to purchase an antique or vintage Christmas ornament is to establish a relationship with a reputible dealer in your area. By introducing yourself to a dealer, you can form a partnership. The dealer is knowledgeable about authenticating a vintage ornament. He can keep his eyes open when he comes across Christmas ornaments at an estate sale or auction. In turn, the dealer will give you a call when he has found something that may be of interest to you. In this way you can be relatively sure that you are buying the real thing, however, buying this way can be slow and tedious. It may take a very long time to find the perfect antique ornament.

Buying online solves this problem. It is instant gratification because you will have your ornament quickly but you risk confirming authenticity by buying this way. As long as you remember what to look for when buying vintage ornaments and educate yourself as to what styles were produced and how a certain Christmas ornament was made you can reduce the risk of buying a vintage impostor. Always purchase from highly rated sellers and only purchase items that allow returns. These tips will also help you reduce the risk of purchasing a fake antique or vintage holiday decoration. I have good luck with sites like and Enjoy my recommendations.


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    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks Dolores,

      I am glad that you appreciate the hub and vintage ornaments. We have ornaments passed down through four generations and I hope to make it five by handing them over to my daughter when she gets married.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Wonderful hub with so much information. While I love the old and the antique, I know very little about vintage Christmas ornaments, even though I have a few. One resembles mercury glass, but is very thin - a real treasure and so beautiful.

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks rebekahELLE,

      I am mesmerized by things of Christmas past. Glad to know you enjoy Shiny Brites as much as I do. Merry Christmas!

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      OH, I love this hub! The antique and Victorian ornaments are so beautiful. I have a few boxes of the Shiny Brites that my mother handed down to me. These are always my favorites to hang on the tree. They are old and yet so intricately made and designed. I don't buy any new ornaments unless I visit the Christmas Village in a nearby community. They are all very unique and not mass produced. It's so nice to wake up this Christmas morning and see your hub. Merry Christmas.


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