Collecting Glass Christmas Ornaments



These are the most common forms of decorations available on the antique market.

I love decorating our Christmas tree for the holidays and one of the biggest reasons is because I get to revisit my collection of antique ornaments. Although I find a unique decoration to add to my general collection every year (downsizing these is in my future), these decorations are my favorite.

What about you? Do you have blown glass decorations that were passed on from grandparents or, if you are lucky, great grandparents? How can you tell how old they are?

Here are some tips:

  • Use 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.”  Those marks will give you some idea of the age of the ornaments as such marks are associated with particular periods in the history of the country.
  • Feel the weight of the decoration. You can often tell if you have an older decoration by its weight and its sound. The new glass decoration will be thicker, thus heavier, and sounds much duller in contrast to an older one. The glass at the stem of the ornament (where the cap meets the bulb or bowl of the decoration) is also much thicker.
  • What is its shape? Glass decorations that were made before WW2 were made of very thin glass. They had indented centres that were liberally hand painted with silver. Post WW2 decorations are primarily globe-like in shape with not indentations and very little silver.

Unique shapes signal age in some decorations

Is it a unique shape? Shapes such as “figurals” that includes fruit, vegetables, people, musical instruments, shells etc. were popular in the first few decades of the 20th century. I love these.


Grape clusters and pine cones are in the “more uncommon” category

Condition is of paramount importance.  The most valuable decorations in any category will look like they just came out of a box. 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 for $2 – $4 each depending on the style and shape. Those from the 1960’s will cost from $4 to $10, using the same criteria. Garage sales are good places to find such examples.Simple figural shapes are valued between $10 – $20 each and rarer examples will set you back $20 and much more.

These values will continue to increase as each year clumsy fingers, my own included, drop or mishandle and break delicate decoration. Don’t let that stop you from putting them on your tree. Merry Christmas!

6 responses to “Collecting Glass Christmas Ornaments

  1. I love the old ornaments and continue to search for them, even though I have been collecting them for over 30 years. I decorate my main tree with just vintage glass ornaments and love how they add a special touch to the season.

    • I totally agree. I do the same thing – I love the way the glass ornaments sparkle and reflect the light – and the fact that each is different from the other! Happy Holidays!

  2. I found your information very interesting. I think I remember that every Xmas at least one ornament was dropped and demised. Those ornaments you treasure are very fragile.

    • Yes they are, and I have dropped my fair share of them myself. Sniff… I only have a set of five ornaments and a tree top angel that belonged to my mother and those are especially precious even if they are only from the 50’s. Merry Christmas to you, Jean. Always nice to hear from you!

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