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Family Traditions

Shiny & Brite

Article by Sydney Simmons

Photography by Karoline Simmons; Cherished Vintage

Originally published in Kirkland Lifestyle

If you find yourself romanticizing over the colorful and shiny Christmas trees of yesteryear, you might have grown up with a tree covered in meticulously placed tinsel, or perhaps your Grandmother owned an aluminum tree that twirled with a spinning color wheel to light it up. Regardless of the style you remember, chances are the tree had Shiny Brite ornaments hanging from its branches. These unique glass ornaments were created by Max Eckardt in 1937, but by the 1940s, almost every home in America had Shiny Brites decorating their Christmas trees for the holiday season. This made them the largest ornament manufacturer in the world during the 1950s. Before World War Two, Shiny Brites were coated in silver nitrate making them both shiny and bright. However, as soon as the war was declared, the company was forced to strip the baubles of their glistening complexions as decorative silver nitrate was deemed a nonessential use of metal. Not long after, the Shiny Brite company came up with a solution that would make their ornaments one of the most sought after products by antique collectors decades later; transparent glass balls, this time with hand painted color on the exterior, were manufactured during the war. In 1945, restrictions on metal were withdrawn, and the original Shiny Brite ornament was reborn. The 1950s saw a production rate of 1,000 Shiny Brite ornaments per minute. Unfortunately, this mass production was short-lived as artificial trees became popular in the early 1960s, coinciding with the making of cheaper plastic tree ornaments. This led to the Shiny Brite company closing its doors in 1962. Today these vintage Christmas decorations have proven to be highly collectible, especially when found in pristine condition and their original boxes. No matter the decade, shiny and bright are two things decorators can’t live without during the holidays.

*Page 3 Bottom Left caption - Flocked and indented Shiny Brites were sold at Woolworth in the 1940s to 1960s. Today, flea markets or Grandma’s attic are the place to search for these beauties in their original boxes.

Be sure to follow @cherishedvintage on Instagram for more holiday inspiration.

  • Graceful glass cloches are the perfect vessel for showcasing vintage ornaments in attractive colors.
  • Ornately designed tree toppers arranged in vintage bottles and a soda pop crate add a whimsical touch to any Christmas display.
  • Flocked and indented Shiny Brites were sold at Woolworth in the 1940s to 1960s. Today, flea markets or Grandma’s attic are the place to search for these beautie