Vintage ornaments have a retro feel, and each one is unique. These ornaments can sometimes be picked up by the shrewd shopper at estate sales or goodwill stores. Because they are rare, though, they’re often listed on sites like Etsy and eBay. Wherever you buy them, they’re sure to add a nostalgic look and feel to your Christmas decorations.
Many people wonder how to tell authentic vintage ornaments from replicas. Collecting vintage ornaments is somewhat of a hobby, but if you’re not concerned about tracking down something that's truly from a bygone era, and instead want access to a retro-style vintage ornament that’s brand new, you’ll find Wendell August Forge to be one of the best places to buy vintage inspired ornaments like this Nativity Dove ornament.
If, however, you are looking for an ornament that’s truly 50, 70, or 100 years old, then you can follow this guide to help you learn how to identify & display vintage ornaments.
What Are Vintage Christmas Ornaments?
Vintage Christmas ornaments are technically just ornaments that come from an earlier generation. Antique ornaments, on the other hand, are generally regarded as being over 100 years old.
Often, people interchange the terms “vintage” and “antique” to refer to older ornaments. Sometimes, vintage replica ornaments or vintage-inspired ornaments are referred to as vintage ornaments because of their style.
So while there’s not a particularly clear-cut answer for how these terms are often used, the technical answer is that vintage ornaments are old ornaments that come from another generation.
What are the Most Valuable Vintage Christmas Ornaments?
There are plenty of valuable vintage and antique Christmas ornaments that fetch $300+, $500, or even $700+. They come from all over the world, including Germany and Slovakia. But perhaps the most valuable type of vintage ornament is the cotton batting ornament.
According to Kate Miller-Wilson at “Love to Know”, “Some of the oldest and most valuable Christmas ornaments you can find are those made of spun cotton or cotton batting. They originated in the 19th century, possibly as a type of non-breakable ornament children could touch. They come in many styles, but they are usually figural.”
How to Display Vintage Christmas Ornaments
Assuming the strings and/or clasps are in good shape, you can always display your vintage Christmas ornaments on the tree, which is the most traditional place to put them. But if you’re worried about that, you can also show them off in glass or plexiglass display cases.
For less rare vintage ornaments, like the kind that you’d find at a garage sale (that you know aren’t valuable) you may wish to repurpose them in new and creative ways, such as:
- Arranging them in Christmas-themed shapes in a picture frame with pretty backing
- Making vintage ornament wreaths
- Making vintage ornament bowls
There’s really no end to the things you can do with vintage ornaments! We encourage you to experiment and let your creativity run wild!
What’s the Best Way to Store Vintage Christmas Ornaments?
According to Denise May Levenick in her informative piece “How to Care for Vintage Christmas Ornaments”, there are several steps you can take to care for ornaments, but one of the most important is this:
“If any ornaments lack their original boxes, use sturdy, acid-free divided boxes to hold your collection. Opt for heavy cardboard over plastic containers, which prevent moisture from escaping. Be sure to store your keepsake ornaments in a location that remains dry and cool year-round.”
Shop Vintage-Inspired Ornaments at Wendell August Forge
Interested in shopping for unique, hand-crafted vintage-inspired ornaments? Check out our Vintage Nativity 6-Piece Ornament Set! Made with recycled aluminum and impeccably designed to mimic vintage-style ornaments, the ornaments in this collection make an impressive addition to any Christmas tree, and they make fabulous gifts.