There is a saying that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to”. This certainly applies to vintage mercury glass Christmas ornaments. These are such fun to collect. I am particularly fond of the Shiny Brite ornaments from the 1940s and 1950s. I love their time worn appearances with their chippy and scuffed exteriors.
The pastel hues and designs also speak to me.
If you can believe it, I usually find these ornaments in the middle of summer when Christmas is the last thing on my mind. I scour flea markets, yard sales, estate sales and auctions. I also purchase them from individuals who are clearing out a home. Many a time I have been up in a scary dark attic or damp moldy basement on a hot July afternoon looking for these treasures.
The best place to buy these ornaments this time of year is at an antique store. Dealers, myself included, have been saving their Christmas ornaments all year and will have them on display for you. Of course, you can buy them online from site like Etsy or Ebay but just be aware of shipping costs and also be prepared for some of your ornaments to potentially break in transit. Ornaments can usually be purchased at an antique store for between $1.00 and $5.00 a piece. Very large ornaments, especially those from Europe can be more expensive. However, they are the exception. I love that you can have a collection of vintage ornaments while spending less than $30. The sparkle and joy that these little ornaments bring to the season is priceless.
The “indent” Christmas ornaments are also a favorite along with any hand painted design.
Here are some tips for identifying vintage Christmas ornaments.
1. Pastel hues are a good indication that they were made in the 1940s-1950s
2. Look for caps and hooks that have a bit of rust on them. This helps to confirm the age and is a sign of authentication.
3. Look for caps that are imprinted with “shiny brite” on the top.
4. Small or narrow tops usually indicate the ornament was made in Europe. Possibly Germany or Poland.
5. Look for ornaments with patina and wear. It’s highly unlikely that an ornament from 1940 or 1950 is in perfect condition.
6. Look for ornaments that are in their original boxes.
With all the tips above all, my most important piece of advice is to have fun searching for these little treasures. Happy hunting!