The joy of decorating our homes with cheerful symbols of the season first came into fashion in the early 1800s. Back then, most traditional holiday trees were adorned with ornaments and decorations like candies, sugar-coated nuts, and fruit slices. Ornaments were reserved for holiday trees or certain parts of the home. For instance, the ornaments that were found in the hearth were not the same ornaments found in the kitchen or on the holiday tree. Queen Victoria and her family continued the Germanic tradition of decorating a table top holiday tree with ornaments as her husband, Prince Albert introduced the tradition to England in the 1840s. In addition to the ornamental edibles, holiday branches and boughs supported hand-made ornaments, ribbons, and printed paper cut-outs.
Tabletop ornaments were of particular interest such as the snow globe. Snow globes were first introduced in France during the early 1800s as a successor to the glass paperweight. At the 1889 International Exposition held in Paris the snow globe got global attention as a souvenir item. The first snow gloves featured a model of the newly built Eiffel Tower
inside and today, snow globes are popular collectibles of the holiday season.
What to Look For
Ornaments come in many different forms, shapes, sizes, materials, and origins. Some of the most sought after ornaments are the 1950s and 1960s collectibles known as Shiny Brites and German mouth blown kugels. Ornaments that say they are "collectible" are typically not all that valuable in the marketplace. Look for good condition, look for strong materials, look for sets of ornaments that are in tact and are in their original box or packaging. Look for ornaments that reference a holiday or season. Historic objects that relate to holiday ornaments are important to retain in a collection.