It’s my favorite time of the year, and that means I’m decking my halls with vintage ornaments, lights and decorations. My collection grows each year, but the basic foundation was laid when I was a young boy. My Dad would take me to auctions and one day when I climbed in his pickup truck, he handed me a box of beautiful ornaments, including a blue jay, a Santa Claus, some bells, ice cream cones and other special figures. “It’s time you started collecting something,” he said, “…and I know you like Christmas.”
So collect I did—and still do. That original box has grown into a collection that hovers at around 2500 and counting. As I write this, I am looking over at the 8-foot evergreen in my living room, and I see lots of those ornaments my Dad gave me over three decades ago. I also have my Grandmother’s ornaments, including her favorite Santa Claus.
My collection mostly dates from the early 20th century and is primarily German, but there are some from Japan, Czech Republic, Poland, and yes, the United States. In fact, some of my very favorite ornaments are American and were made during World War II. While the earlier European figural ornaments have the most financial value, the ones made in the U.S. during the war strike a sentimental chord with me. They are un-silvered striped balls, with paper caps. During those years, any metal was conserved for the war effort, so they serve as a reminder of how the country came together and rationed important materials. I love that.
Decorating my trees is a weeklong process, due to the number of ornaments and my effort to find the right home for each one. I also enjoy seeing them, as they are part of my vintage world that only comes out once a year, so I like taking my time.
For those interested in starting to collect vintage ornaments, I’d suggest going to ANY flea market at this time of the year. Balls are always the least expensive and figural ornaments are on the higher end of the spectrum. Auctions, too, have lots of great old holiday décor, as most homes had boxes of it in the attic. Another thing I suggest is buying off-season or after the holidays. Just like in retail stores, seasonal merchandise at flea markets costs less when that season is not upon us.
To ensure my vintage ornaments last for years to come, I pack them in shredded acid-free tissue, available online and in many retail packing stores. Since they have value (financial, sentimental and historical), I think it’s important to protect them.
A final thought…in addition to trimming the tree, I also use vintage ornaments in the greenery on the mantle and in glass and majolica bowls throughout my home. With vintage décor, the possibilities are endless. So why not deck the halls with boughs of holly and add some cool, old ornaments? HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
View more ofon Pinterest.