It’s time to get out the decorations for the holidays. I love antique and vintage ornaments and other Christmas collectibles, especially the ones that have been handed down. The first thing I do to prepare for the holidays is put a jaunty Santa hat on the gnome in my garden. You know my gnome—he’s 17 inches high and painted. But did you know he was handed down to me in 1955? He was a fixture in my mother’s garden after she bought it in about 1930 from a friend who said he was 75 years old. That makes my gnome about 167 years old. Here are some other decorations I look forward to taking out each holiday season:
A “kugel” hangs on a small brass stand on the table in my foyer. Kugels are thick blown glass ornaments, first made in Germany in the 1830s. Kugels are usually round, but some are shaped like fruit or acorns. My kugel is blue, about 4 inches long and shaped like a cluster of grapes. The rarest colors are deep red and purple.
I have other, more recent glass ornaments, too. Some have metal caps marked “Shiny Brite,” made in the U.S. from 1937 to 1960. (Tip: never replace a metal cap; it is the only sign of an ornament’s age.) I like them with vintage tree lights, like my teardrop-shaped lights and bubble lights (that are being reproduced today).
Table decorations are also fun to arrange. I have a set of miniature figures that I set up on the dining room table to create turn-of-the-century winter scenes. The figures are molded lead, flat, double sided and hand-painted. They were made in Germany about 1920 and depict skiers, skaters, townspeople, snowmen, sleighs and snow-tipped trees.
I chuckle every year as I place my grumpy belsnickle candy container on the table. A belsnickle is a crotchety Christmas character from German folklore, who visited children in the weeks before Christmas, warning them to be good.
And there are the Santas, of course. He is the top jolly fellow this time of year, isn’t he? I have ornaments, toys and advertising signs, tins and even store buttons with different depictions of Santa since the late 1800s, including a Coca-Cola Santa ad from the 1930s that helped create the current image of Santa. A few of these things were handed down, some were gifts, and some I bought over the years.
Enjoy your cherished holiday decorations and the stories they bring to mind.
We at Kovels wish you all the very best this holiday season. And we look forward to 2023 and more collecting!
Terry Kovel and all of us on the Kovels team!
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