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Mid-20th Century Christmas Decorations, Part 1

by Linda Ferguson

Collecting Christmas decorations is a popular pasttime. Many people start their collections when they inherit decorations from family members. Some of today's most affordable yet very attractive vintage decorations were made in the mid 20th century.

Shiny Brite Shaped Ornaments
Price trends for shaped Shiny Brite ornaments on eBayTM from July 1999 to February 2000 (62 items)

Indented ornaments, made by Shiny Brite, late 1940s. For sale on's online shop.

Glass ornaments had been painstakingly handblown in Germany until the industry collapsed in the early 1930s. Mass machine production of decorations began during this period.

Max Eckardt, who produced Shiny Brite ornaments, persuaded the Corning Glass company in the 1930s to produce glass ornaments when German ornaments became unavailable. Many Shiny Brite-produced ornaments, particularly the shaped ones, are desirable amongst collectors.


Noma Bubble Light Sets
Price trends for Noma bubble light sets on eBayTM from July 1999 to February 2000 (159 items)

Electric Christmas lights tranformed the Christmas tree. One of the biggest producers of Christmas lights was NOMA, a company formed by over a dozen small light producers in the mid 1920s. NOMA was the first to manufacture bubble lights. NOMA owned Glolite, a company that produced a less expensive product line.

Lighted table tree, from Glolite sales catalog, 1938

During World War II, the war effort affected the production of Christmas ornaments. The method of "silvering" ornaments ceased. Clear glass ornaments were decorated with paint instead. Metal caps were replaced by paper ones. Ornaments with paper caps can add $10-15 to the price of an ornament because of their rarity: many of the unstable caps were thrown away after the war.

To read more about Christmas history and decorations, see the Smithsonian Encylopedia for a list of books.

Boy near display window with light sets and ornaments, 1941 or 1942, FSA/OWI photo, from Library of Congress' American Memory Collection.

The next AuctionEye will look at more Christmas decorations from the mid-20th century, including artificial trees and color wheels. See our directory for related websites.


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