Christmas collectibles stir memories

By on December 26, 2012

By: JOYCE ZIMMERMAN Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

The gifts are opened, the stockings emptied, and the cookies are eaten. Probably all that remains from family Christmas celebrations are the leftovers from Christmas dinner and the decorations people use to adorn the inside and outside of their homes. If current trends continue, several decades from now, some of those decorations may become popular in the antique and collectible markets.

That is precisely what occurred with the decorations used by our parents and grandparents. Many would be astonished to find some of their decorations displayed in antique shops and collected by current-day dealers and decorators.

Antique Christmas decorations have been collected for many years, therefore some can be hard to find and very expensive. Items like German-made Belshnickle (Santa) figures, goose feather trees and Kugal glass ornaments, to mention a few, all command premium prices. Because they have been collected for years, many are in private collections. According to many collectors, anything made in Germany or Czechoslovakia has more value because they were probably made prior to the 1940s when Japanese goods flooded the market.

In case you haven’t noticed, antiques seem to be getting newer. These newer antiques, more corrected called collectibles, include anything from the decades following 1940. Glass ornaments from this era are very common and bring $2-$8 each, depending on rarity and condition. Even the tinsel and hooks used to hang the ornaments are collected.

Remember those little cardboard houses popular during the 1960s, some with a hole in the back for a light? You guessed it — they are popular with collectors and are an inexpensive item to collect, often for about $10 each. They look especially nice under the Christmas tree along with an antique model train, which incidentally, is another very popular collectible. In fact, old toys and games of any kind enjoy more popularity around the holiday season. It seems anything that sparks pleasant Christmas memories of childhood days-gone-by is collected by someone.

Aluminum trees, manufactured by the Reynolds Aluminum Company during the 1940s and 1950s, complete with a colored revolving light, are popular collector’s items. As with all antiques and collectibles, value depends on size and condition. Ceramic trees with little lights, popular during the 1970s, old Christmas stockings, bubble lights and window lights manufactured by Noma, all are popular collector items. The value greatly increases if in the original box.

According to shop owners, all kinds of manger scenes and nativity sets from any era are always popular. Of course, sets with figures made in Germany (or other European countries) are especially popular and more valuable. Many people enjoy displaying nativity scenes during the season, continuing a time-honored tradition believed to have started in Italy around 1223 when St. Francis of Assisi reenacted the first living manger scene in a small cave. Many older sets are very detailed and include an assortment of animal figures designed to make a more realistic display.

According to shop owners, Christmas antiques and collectibles are not limited to ornaments and decorations. Old linen tablecloths, napkins, aprons and handkerchiefs with Christmas motifs are popular and affordable to collect. So are salt and pepper shakers, napkin and candle holders in snowman, reindeer and Santa figures. Because they are not expensive, these collectibles are often purchased, or held on to, to be used at holiday and family dinners.

During the holiday season, any kind of red-colored dishes and glassware enjoy popularity and look very nice on Christmas dinner tables and buffets. Old glass candy jars filled with old-fashioned Christmas candy look very nice during the season and spark memories of Christmases long ago. Collectors are interested in jewelry with a Christmas theme, especially Christmas tree pins manufactured during the 1950s. These pins can be worth several dollars or hundreds of dollars, depending on condition and rarity. They can be found among the costume jewelry collections sold at estate auctions and antique shops such as the ones along ‘The Strip.’

Christmas post cards, a forerunner to modern Christmas cards, were used by our ancestors to communicate with family members before telephones and the internet existed. Today these cards are an affordable item to collect, often for $5-$6 each, and give us a window into their lives. These cards take little space and can be displayed in old picture frames, under glass on a desk, or in a post card album.

According to shop owners, Christmas items sell all year, not just during the holiday season, and there really is something for everyone and every budget. Collecting Christmas-related antiques is fun — it brings back memories of childhood and helps us recall good times celebrated with family and friends. The Adamstown shops have a wonderful assortment of Christmas items available, not just during the holiday season, but the rest of the year as well. Happy Hunting!

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