The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of many homes during the holiday season and ornaments are the crown jewels.
A Brief History
Glass Christmas ornaments were first made in Lauscha, Germany and became very popular in England after a picture of Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree was posted in a London newspaper with glass baubles and ornaments from her husband, Prince Albert’s native Germany.
Immigrants to North America brought what had become a tradition with them and as society prospered the size of ornaments grew and colors became brighter. In 1880, F.W. Woolworth discovered Lauscha’s ornaments on a visit to Germany and began importing them. By 1890, Woolworth’s five-and-dime stores were selling $25 million worth of ornaments, a fortune.
These ornaments were virtually all still being made in Lauscha, Germany until after WWII when many of the glass-works operations became state owned. As trends changed during the 1960’s, aluminum trees and ornaments became popular and many glass ornaments were discarded.
Today these ornaments are considered vintage and collector’s items if they can be found. Many of the original glass blowing companies reestablished as private firms and continue to produce ornaments that are sold worldwide. In general, ornaments today are imported and mass produced from plastic in about every design imaginable. There continues to be a thriving market for glass blown ornaments from central Europe, many of which are highly collectible.
Christmas ornaments are the crown jewels of the Christmas season. They can be found in just about any design or color and at prices perfect for every budget. A favorite time of the year for many is when family and friends get together to place treasured ornaments collected over the years on the tree. Years ago, a friend invited me to a Christmas tree decorating party. The only attendance requirement was that I bring along an ornament. The search was on, and I found the perfect ornament. It was so much fun ! What a great party theme!
Whether you enjoy collecting, displaying, or simply decorating your tree, there are ornament choices galore. Options are as varied as each of our own decorating styles. Ornaments can be found in colors and styles to satisfy the interest and culture of just about everyone of any age. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Christopher Radko State Street Clock
Wedgwood Relief Ornaments
Crate and Barrel Assortment
This year’s Christmas ornaments
Photos of Christmas Around the World ornaments at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.