In front of the south facing patio door of the dining room I have a new tree display this year. On it is a collection of vintage WWII Christmas ornaments.
This spot, where the sun can beam through the clear ornaments, turned out to be a lovely location for such a display.
The past few days I’ve had fun sharing some of my vintage ornaments with you. I’ve been collecting them for a while and highlighted this year’s way I displayed them. If you missed the last 2 days, here are those posts: ‘Vintage Christmas Tree Reflectors‘ and ‘Vintage Christmas on Display‘
The vintage World War II Christmas ornaments in today’s post are intriguing and special to me. I’ve been working on a collection for a year or so. Watching sales online for the rare occasion one or two would pop up for sale at a reasonable price.
Are you familiar with WWII ornaments? It’s been so interesting learning about them. I’m certainly not an expert, but I’ll be glad to share a bit of knowledge I have about them.
The start of the war in 1939, as you can imagine, put a stop to the United States being able to import Christmas ornaments from overseas. (most of the Christmas ornaments up until then came from Germany, Japan and Czechoslovakia and were hand blown glass). It was at that point America started making Christmas ornaments in earnest, but instead of hand blown ornaments, the US created mass produced machine blown versions.
These new mass produced American made ornaments, were made as blanks by the Corning Glass Company and sold to other American companies like Shiny Brite, which decorated the plain balls as they chose.
The end result looked pretty similar to the imported versions. That is, until about 1941 or so, then due to metal shortages and the war effort, silver nitrate was no longer available to coat the inside of the balls and make those lovely shiny ornaments we think of when we think of glass ornaments.
To compensate that shiny look, some of the American Christmas ornament producers stuck in a piece of shiny silver tinsel…
until that ran out…
Eventually the metal ran out all together for the ornament manufacturers. It was then that the metal tops and hangers were replaced with cardboard or paper tops, some of those with strings looped through for hanging. Apparently some producers even used a small piece of wood wedged inside the opening of the ornament with string tied around it for hanging. I’ve still yet to see one of these. I think the wood would have easily shrunk over time and been dislodged.
Most of the ornaments I have with the glued on paper caps, I have set in a bowl on the table. I’m too chicken to hang them for fear the old glue won’t hold tight to the hanging ornament.
The tree itself I found this summer 2nd hand. It’s not vintage, but skinny… I love that. A skinny tree hardly takes up any floor space. It came with a criss-cross type log base that I ditched for this vintage cast iron beauty.
The cast iron tree holder was made with holes on top for Christmas lights. The gal I bought it from had a string of reproduction Christmas lights in it. (you can see them in the first picture of this post)
Good idea, except…
There were many more light sockets on the string than holes in the base, so she had those extra sockets just empty. Needless to say, I never even plugged it in for fear of those empty sockets on the string being a bit dangerous.
Then I found this string of LED glass globe lights with tinsel in them, I knew they’d be a perfect match for this WWII ornament tree! Here is the shopping link for the vintage style LED tinsel filled globe lights. There were a couple extra lights on the string than holes in the base, but because they’re LED and the glass globes are removable covers, it was a cinch to remove the globes and tuck the tiny extra LED lights attached on the string of lights under the base.
The tree itself has no lights on it, which I actually prefer for this collection of ornaments. Only the base lights up, as the LED tinsel filled globes constantly roll from one color to the next. It’s fun, but actually subtle.
Both my husband and I are interested in WWII. His father fought in WWII and my dad, who was younger was in the service stationed in Germany during the years of transition following the war. Seeing these much simpler versions of Christmas ornaments reminds me of what so many people around the world during those war years faced.
This wraps up the Christmas posts for this year. I plan to be back with some new tips and decorating ideas in January.
I hope you have a special Christmas and can pause to remember the joyful truth of Christmas. There is reason to celebrate, for we have been given the ability to have a personal relationship with God Almighty. It is by redemption and forgiveness through the greatest gift ever given, His Son Jesus Christ. His birth is what we celebrate at this special time. Merry Christmas!
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Here you can check out all the Christmas decorating projects I’ve written about: