With America’s favorite holiday just a couple of weeks away, it’s a great time to come into the Staunton Antiques Center for all kinds of presents as well as supplies for hosting holiday events.
And it’s also a great time for sourcing the kind of unique and fun antique and vintage Christmas decor that’s so valuable to collectors and those who love vintage Christmas touches today.
So what do you look for that’s really, authentically antique and vintage? Here are a few ideas.
The 1892 ballet, The Nutcracker, has long been one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season, with top arts agencies like the New York Ballet as well as local community productions presenting the same. And the whole thing has led to a mania for wooden nutcrackers. Some of the best of those come from vintage sources.
There’s so many different kinds of characters and paint styles and sizes and shapes of nutcrackers to add to holiday decor that the sheer diversity is so exciting to see. We’ve got lots of wooden nutcrackers as well as ornaments and cards and other ways to bring the nutcracker into your holiday celebration.
Light up Ceramic Trees
The age of electricity brought in the plug-in, light-up ceramic tree, a table-top Christmas tree that can come in sizes small enough for a doll house and large enough to require many hands to move it, with the most popular size just right for a side table, mantle, or centerpiece.
Little plastic “bulbs” (they’re not really bulbs, but rather simply colored plastic figures, set on the end of tree branches, and the inner light at the center of the ceramic piece is actually just a white bulb that then gets filtered through these lights.
Yes, they’re still making these today, but there’s nothing like the patina and quality of plastic bulbs like you’ll find in antique and vintage versions of this modern classic Christmas decor.
Houses and churches and barns and municipal buildings and all kinds of shoppes and merchant stores can be combined to make up a Christmas village. They come in ceramic, often light-up, like the Christmas trees above, and also in wood, tin, etched and burned out wood, plastic Glo-lite, and even really old school fold out villages of cardboard, often called Putz villages. Sometimes you can also find unused books of Christmas villages that kids would cut out and assemble like paper dolls to make a little village.
Whether you have one house or church or hundreds, whether they all come from the same company or medium (like ceramic or paper) or many different mediums, whether the scale of each house matches the others or you combine styles and sizes to make your own artistic take on a village, adding vintage Christmas village pieces to your holiday decor is a surefire winner for kids of all ages to ooh and aah over.
Angels We Have Heard On High
From little and BIG vintage wooden angels by Erzgebirge to ceramic Commodore angels, often seen as candleholders, to paper and fabric angels to set atop the tree, to papier-mâché angels, often seen during the Mid Century Modern movement, angels add the holy factor to what is otherwise often a very secular Christmas.
And speaking of angels, and the holy factor, mangers or creches are also at the center of many families’ Christmas decor.
Full sets of nativities, or creches, include the holy family, and animals such as camels, sheep, cattle, and even birds, as well as the wisemen and shepherds. Often seen in carved wood with Spanish moss, but also in every other medium like glass, porcelain, wool, and even plastic, nativities come in all sizes and expressions. When they’re vintage, what you often get is the patina of age, giving the colors an aged hue and mellowness that adds gravitas to that quiet moment on Christmas morning.
Reflector and Other Glass Ornaments
These colorful vintage glass ornaments are among the most quintessential vintage Christmas ornaments ever. Made popular in the 1930s and 40s by a host of old companies, like Old World Christmas, and even General Electric, these metallic balls often had an indent that created the reflector quality on a lit up tree. And that extra sparkle seemed to draw even more fans than your typical ball- and diamond-shaped metal ornaments so popular from the 30s through the 60s and enjoying a revived popularity today.
I could go on and on*!
From tinsel trees and old school boxed tinsel to around-the-tree train sets to star shaped tree toppers in plastic or the same material as the reflector ornaments above to tacky red plush Christmas stockings to gorgeous and personalized needlepoint stockings to plastic candles with the faux wax dripping down the sides to the original plastic and felt elf there are so many ways that Americans have celebrated Christmas decor over the last century and a half.
And if you want to make your holiday glow with some old world charm, come down and peruse our 35 vendors’ collections for great gifts — and also for great decor to give your gatherings a vintage charm that just can’t be found in the big box stores.
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antique Center
*For more insight into antiques shopping, download my FREE e-book guide to shopping antiques in our region: