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Many times we only think of Hallmark or Carlton collectibles when one is beginning to collect Christmas ornaments. But the Christmas antique and vintage options are unending.

Photo:Vintage Christmas

Here is an insightful article on eBay: Starting a Collection of Antique Christmas Ornaments

There are a few very important things to consider prior to starting a vintage or antique Christmas ornament collection:

1) What type of tree will they be displayed on?

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish as far as circa or theme goes, will determine what type of tree will be used.
There are German feather trees, firs cedars & spruces, the scotch pine & other evergreens, as well as retro aluminum pom pom and other artificial trees.

2) What is your budget?

There are tons of affordable vintage & antique ornaments that can still be found in shops, yard sales, and auctions all across America, but some of the antique & more sought after ones can commend a much higher price tag depending on condition & rarity.
Until you can become a lot more informed and educated on the new reproductions on the market, I would stick with the more common ornaments and work your way up.
Unfortunately, as in any good collecting niches, there are a lot of people out there that will sell you fake or reproduction goods full well knowing that they are just that...FAKE  (Buyer Beware)

3) What kind of ornaments do you want to collect?

There are an assortment of glass, wax, paper & cardboard, wire wrapped & metal ornaments, with the largest variety being molded or blown glass.

4) Condition...Condition....Condition!

You would like to find old glass ornaments that are free from cracks and have the original metal caps if possible. The interior mercury or silvering should not be blotchy or see through, and the paint or decoration on the exterior should be in excellent condition as well.
If possible try to stay away from heavily fake snow flocked ornaments, as they are almost impossible to clean without destroying the exterior paint and or decoration.
With paper ornaments, look for ones that are free from creases, stains, or tears and have no missing flakes off of the brightly colored graphics.
When looking for metal ornaments, look for ones with no rust. There will most likely be some tarnishing which is considered fairly common, and a slight bend is not so bad as this can be bent back.

5) Telling The Old From The New

Most of the new glass ornaments today have gold colored metal caps and a heavier glass or plastic like feel to them. The "old" glass ornaments are almost paper thin and have hardly any weight to them at all.
The "old" ornaments are considered pre-WWII 1930's and prior, and the "newer" are considered post-WWII 1940's to 1950's.
After a while of collecting these little treasures, you will easily be able to tell the difference between the old and the new, but I always advise getting some good reference books to hone up on your skills."

This gives some pertinent information for all of us! What's your favorite? Are you enamoured with the shiny 'Shiny Brite' balls? Love the old metal ornaments to add a bit of rustic charm to the season? Favor paper ornaments that bring a big punch of nostalgia?

SHARE your tips and advice! And of course, photos of your collections!

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Replies to This Discussion

Antique figural ornaments are so beautiful! Would be lovely on my tiny tree this year.

Figurals on the High Side

"The king of the figural Christmas ornament is the “Kugel”, a term that actually means ball in German. Collectors usually refer to any thick blown glass ornament with a fixed decorative cap as a Kugel. It’s said that these were first sold in America at Woolworth’s variety stores in the 1880s. Figural examples shaped like clusters of grapes in rare colors like red or amber can be worth in excess of $1,000 apiece. Egg-shaped Kugels might sell from $500-800 each. Take care when purchasing these, however, because some examples have been reproduced.

Some of the most popular figurals with collectors are shaped like personalities or characters of yesteryear. For example, an Eddy Cantor ornament with chenille arms might be worth $500 or more to the right person. One shaped like John Bull could approach $300 in the right market. An example designed to resemble President Taft’s head, also sometimes described as an "Einstein Face" ornament, can be found for $100-150.

Animals also bring in good sums. A rare Puss ‘n Boots glass ornament with chenille limbs could go for $800-1,000. A clip-on cat head ornament might fetch $300-400, while a kitten in a stocking ornament with a bright color scheme could sell for $200-300.

Other figurals shaped like birds, Indian chiefs, and airplanes with metal wheels can sell for $100-250 each, along with a host of other interesting shapes."

This full bodied Puss 'N Boots with chenille limbs is considered to be rare. Condition is excellent for this type of Christmas collectible. Size: 4 3/4" tall.

Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments are the best! This one is just beautiful: Native American Barbie  from the Hallmark Keepsake Collector’s Series, dated 1996. Sculpted by Patricia Andrews, she is the first in the “Dolls of the World” Series.

Grandma's Treasures Online

On the topic of collecting ornaments, what is trending this year in 2015??

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