Have you inherited vintage decorations from an older relative or picked some up from garage sales or flea markets and wondered if they had any monetary value? The answer is… it depends. There are certain things you need to look for. Follow these tips to identify what you have:
Take out a magnifying glass and look for the country of origin or any identifying marks on the cap. Look for names like “Japan”, “Poland”, “Made in ….”, “Germany” and “East Germany” or “Corning” Those marks will give some idea of their age.
Read and refer to books specifically on Christmas decorations. Look for some that have lots of pictures so that you can learn to identify the more valuable items.
How heavy is the decoration? You can often tell how old a decoration is by its weight and its sound. The new decoration is heavier and sounds much duller in contrast to an old one. The glass at the stem of the ornament (where the cap meets the decpration) is much thicker.There are many knock offs out there and they still look good on a tree. However if you are trying to collect antique Christmas decorations it pays to know what to look for!
Is it a traditional shape? As you read in my previous post, pre – WW2 globe-shaped decorations were made of very thin glass and they had indented centres that were liberally hand painted with silver. Post WW2 decorations, because of the shortage of materials, were decorated on the outside only and the amount of silver is very small. Shapes such as ogee, bells and unindented globes are most common.
Is it a unique shape? Shapes such as figurals which includes fruit, vegetables, people, musical instruments etc. were popular in the first few decades of the 20th century. I love these. Their value depends on their intricacy and rarity.
One thing to remember is how important condition is. The most valuable decorations in any category will look like they were made yesterday. Loss of metallic decoration, fading of colours and physical damage will seriously affect all but the rarest decorations.
So what about values?
Decorations from the 1970’s and on can be found almost everywhere and shouldn’t cost you more than $2 – $4 depending on style and shape. Thos from the 1960’s will cost anywhere from $4 to $10, using the same criteria.
Simple figural shapes are valued between $10 – $20 and rarer figurals from $20 and up. The rarest, which may or may not be made of glass can cost in the hundreds. These values will continue to increase as each year clumsy fingers drop or mishandle and break another delicate decoration.
Don’t let that stop you from putting them out. Use and enjoy them in the way they were intended. Merry Christmas!