Holiday Collecting is all about Timing

The longstanding tradition of decorating the holiday tree is a mainstay of the season. At holiday time, many of us share our interest in collecting with our families and friends while decking the halls. Many collectors decorate with ornaments from bygone days.

I have a favorite old ornament from my family’s holiday tree. My beloved orange cardboard fish rears its ugly head every year. A nursery school craft project, my mother — like all good mothers — saved it all these years. Its flimsy cardboard body is enhanced by an abundance of Elmer’s glue supporting clumps of glitter in typical 1970s pastel colors. Oriented in profile, my fish has a tiny seashell for an eye — the sculpture’s aesthetic highpoint. This special keepsake still commands a place of honor on our holiday tree. Surely, you have something of similar historical significance in your holiday ornament storage box.

Whether it’s homemade trimmings, family keepsakes, or classic ornaments, the tradition of tree decorating parties and reminiscing over the holiday decorations remains time honored. Wonderful ornaments emerge from those dusty boxes annually. Antique ornaments, defined as those produced from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries (circa 1880 to 1930), are highly collectible. Since some of the most beautiful and handmade ornaments were made in that period, the ornaments are very difficult to find. Since the little beauties are getting scarce, if you discover one entangled in the garland, hold onto it. It may be valued at nearly $100 or more, that’s not too bad for an attic treasure.

For those of you who haven’t saved those special family treasures over the last 100 years or can’t find them in the disorganized attic, get ready to spend a pretty penny on starting your own collection of vintage ornaments. With prices soaring for these old timers, ornament enthusiasts are turning to newer ornaments — those made after World War II — as the staples to their collections. While seasoned collectors are looking for Kugels and other early German glass ornaments, new collectors are especially interested in vintage pieces made in America in the 1950s.

Of course, collecting vintage ornaments during the holiday season means sparing no expense. If you want to start a holiday ornament collection, it would be best for you to start collecting in January or better yet in July. The prices are highest for vintage ornaments now so if you can wait for an After Christmas sale, you’d be better off. Besides that way, you’ll have an entire year to collect your vintage ornaments for Christmas 2013.  Happy holidays.

Celebrity Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. To learn more about your antiques, visit, or call (888) 431-1010


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