Everyone who knows me usually finds out one thing about me immediately:
I HATE WINTER!!!
I really, really, REALLY do! I even hate autumn just because it's NEAR winter! And I would like spring a heckuva lot more -- except it, too, sits right there next to winter... lol!
However, there is ONE bright spot in what I consider to be the INTERMINABLE darkness and cold of dreaded winter and that's my Christmas tree...
Since about 1975 when my daughter was born I've been collecting ornaments... I try to hit the after-Christmas sales as much as I'm financially able and, when I do, I head for the Hallmark "Keepsake" ornament aisle to paw through the ones that are left. In financially very lean times, I've been known to shop at the "recycle center" at the local garbage dump (where they take in used but re-sellable objects and sell them to the public while giving a break to people who are dumping things there by giving them a discount on their dump fee when they take items to the recycle center that can be resold) garage sales and flea markets for "finds".
I thought I'd post a photo-essay showing some of my favorite ornaments here on Gather for you to see while, at the same time, perhaps giving you all a little info on antique and "collectable" ornaments which might prove useful to you!
Lots of things can be used as tree ornaments... In Victorian times, specially made ornaments solely to be used on a Christmas tree were few and far between and quite expensive (comparatively) so they used small toys, crystals, fruit, flowers and other natural objects for the most part to decorate their trees.
There were no Christmas tree "lights", either, and my mother (who is 94) remembers quite well many trees when she was a child that were lighted by small candles placed in little, tin "candle holders" with small clips on the bottom to clip onto the branches... (Can you imagine what a fire hazard that was?!? OMG!)
In this next photo, I show you a combination of items that I use as ornaments -- some of which weren't really made as "tree ornaments", per se:
Right here on the bottom left of the photo is a little, wooden toy "top" that I drilled a hole through with a very small drill bit and strung on a piece of fishing line. Just above it and slightly to the right of it is a Mexican "baby rattle" woven from dried grass that has a little "jingle bell" inside. Just to the right of the rattle is a Japanese manufactured glass ornament that was probably made in the 1950s as a copy of those originally made in Germany from hand-blown glass around the early 1900s. (The round, striped glass ball just above that and the other striped glass ornament you can see part of on the extreme upper right corner of the photo could be described in the same way...)
Japanese "copies" of glass Christmas tree "balls" are actually becoming scarce and that has added to their value. Depending upon the exact type, they can be worth a few bucks apiece so it pays to do some research on them if you have any...
Now, to the right of the rattle is a "Keepsake" tin rocking horse made by Hallmark. Hallmark made several of these -- all slightly different styles -- but this particular style is the first one they produced and dates from the late 1970s. I bought it at an after-Christmas sale for 50% off the marked price which is on the box for it that I still have: $8.50. I have checked the serial number and found that it is worth about $150 today. (Pretty good for a $4.25 purchase, eh? ;o) )
Most all my friends know that I collect cats -- not the live kind... (only one of those...lol...) but "figures" of cats made from different materials. Several years ago, my best friend gave me the little green cat from China made of fabric that's pictured in the photo. It's not worth anything... I just like it. ;o)
Here are a few of some of my other Hallmark "Keepsakes" -- none of which I paid full price for and most of which were at least 50% and as much as 75% off at the after-Christmas sales.
This one is a model of a 1950's era pink Cadillac convertible sedan. It's fairly new (bought within the last 2 or 3 years) and, as such isn't worth as much as some of the Keepsakes by Hallmark that I own but it IS my husband's second-favorite ornament and I really bought it for him:
It's too new yet to have much info on how much it's worth, though...
Hallmark also makes what they call "Light and Motion" Keepsake ornaments that plug into a empty socket of your Christmas tree light string and I have one of these of "The Jetsons" in their "hovercar". The interior lights up and there are little red lights on the bottom on the "exhaust pipes" on each side that blink in a series of 3 to suggest motion.
Here's one of my favorites of the "Keepsakes" that I own made by Hallmark:
Hallmark manufactured a whole "series" of stamped-tin, "retro styled" robot toy ornaments and I actually own another one that's pretty cool but this one is my favorite of the two. It's not worth as much, of course, as the rocking horse but it probably will be in time... :o)
There are a couple of other Hallmark "Keepsakes" in this next photo:
The airplane is one of a Hallmark series of antique aircraft ornaments that is supposed to be a fairly accurate model. I can't remember the designation of it at the moment...
The Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox (thermos included inside) pictured I bought for my husband who mentioned one time that he had one of these when he was a child... Both of these Hallmarks (as with all my Hallmark "Keepsakes"), I bought at after-Christmas sales for about 50% off the listed price.
The pink glass "shaped" ornament on the right is a Japanese "manufactured" copy of an original German glass ornament.
Here's another photo with a couple of Hallmark "Keepsakes" in it:
I have several of the little Chinese "lanterns" as you see in the foreground that were given to me by my mother. They're not particularly valuable as they were once parts of a string of "party lights" but I love them on the tree! They add to the "Victorian flavor" immensely -- I think, anyway... :o)
On the right side of the above photo you'll see the "Mouse House" which is an old Hallmark "Keepsake"... Inside the "mushroom house" is a family of mice who are seated at the dinner table. This is my husband's favorite ornament which I had when we first met. If I had retained the box it came in, it would be worth about $50 today but, unfortunately, I did not since it dates from a time before I did any research on Christmas ornaments at all... :^( It's still cute, though! :o)
In the middle of the above photo is another "Keepsake" which is a stamped-tin "Postal" railroad car also from Hallmark. It's so new that there really isn't any info available on what it's worth (I bought it at the after-Christmas sales about 2 years ago) but, since my paternal grandfather worked for the railroad all of his life, it holds some special meaning to me... :o) (Besides, I really LIKE tin ornaments!)
Hallmark also makes miniature Keepsakes like this Cinderella's shoe which are quite cute:
Next are a couple of photos of some of my best antique Christmas ornament "finds" -- found at the local dump "recycling center" -- that, after doing some research, I found out were actually worth quite a lot of money!
First, a hand-blown, German glass ornament dating from the early 1900s:
Here's the way you can easily tell if a glass ornament is a genuine "antique" -- in other words, it's hand-blown glass made in the early part of the 20th Century -- or not:
Look at the bottom of this ornament. Do you see a little "nub" sticking out that's kind of "pointed"? If you run your finger over that "nub", you will be able to feel that it is pretty "sharp". That's what is left when a hand-blown ornament (usually a round shape) comes off of the "pipe" through which it was being blown. "Manufactured" glass ornaments have 2 molded "halves" that are then joined together (usually resulting in a discernable "seam" around the circumpherence) which doesn't result in a "nipple" or "nub" like this does.
I bought this ornament as one item of a whole PILE of things at the "recycle center". I paid about $5 for the whole "pile" and I have found through extensive research that this type of ornament is worth about $125 in fairly good shape... ANOTHER great "find"!! :o)
Here is another antique, German "find":
This is a German "Santa Klaus" made in the early 1900s that I also found at the recycling center and bought as part of a "lot" of several things for $5 or $10.
His face is "composition" (usually a type of flour paste or paper mache) and his body is stuffed felt. He was originally quite red in color but, over many years of use he has faded to a kind of deep shade of orange.
I did a lot of research on this type of ornament and apparently there were "original" Santa Klauses from Germany (such as this one) and, then, later, Japan made copies of them. I also own a Japanese copy and the major differences are in the material and modeling of the composition face which, on the Japanese copies, is quite crude and the composition is quite plainly of an inferior quality. Also, the Japanese copies don't usually have discernable "legs" such as this one (which are made from wrapped wire) and the "real" Santa Klauses have a small, brass "eyelet" sewn into the top of their hoods from which to hang them on the tree -- the copies do not.
I also have some plastic ornaments that aren't worth much really but I like a lot -- like this Victorian house of which I have two different ones:
I like them because you can stick a bulb from your light string inside and make it look like it's lighted up inside...
I also like this little cherub which was made in Italy out of plastic to resemble frosted glass in the style of cherubs in Italian cathedrals:
I like it because, when it's in front of a light bulb, it illuminates... :o)
Here's another plastic ornament that's not really worth a whole lot but I think it's cute... It's a mouse riding on the back of dragonfly with beaded wings:
And we all have ornaments that mean a lot to us sentimentally -- even if they aren't worth much financially speaking... This next photo is one of mine...
I've had this ornament for 50 years. It was given to me by my "boyfriend", Loren Mead, when he was 6 and I was 5. I don't know whatever happened to Loren after we grew up... I haven't laid eyes on him for 40 years or more but I cherish this little glass bell and it goes up on my tree in a place of honor every year...
Happy Holidays, everyone!
by Jean, just the teensiest bit odd, F.
September 9, 2006
Jeanz Christmas Tree Ornaments and a Primer on Antiques, Hallmark "Keepsakes" and more... (a photo-essay)
December 01, 2008 06:47 PM UTCviews: 0 comments: 24
Everyone who knows me usually finds out one thing about me immediately:
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