Santa Ornament

The holiday season is well upon us. You have either decorated for the celebration or are still working up the energy to drag out the memories of yore from the garage and begin the process.

Well, just maybe, a treasure or two lurks inside the tissue paper and should be treated with special attention instead of being tossed back into a cardboard box after the season ends. Christmas tree ornaments and decorations are tender reminders of a festive season and can bring back seemingly lost memories. Hence, the reason for their value. So, what should you look for in your treasure chest?

Santa ornaments, the traditional symbol of innocence, are always desirable. Plastic, paper, glass or cardboard – the older, the better – is what a collector wants. The light-up 1940s and 1950s specialized Santa holding everything from a Christmas tree to a bubble light are coveted.

The smaller plastic Santas hooked on to the tree with an accompanying reindeer for that added special touch are also on collectors’ want lists. Any Santa that is pre-1960 should be treated with care and respect. Also, the value for the desirable plastic Santa from the early 1940 rendition ranges from $35 to $60; the same deal applies for the red-and white-bearded tree ornaments and larger replicas that adorned the fireplace. Condition is everything.

Finely crafted old glass ornaments are also wanted: bells that symbolize the season’s ringing-in or delicate coffee pots symbolic of hospitality. Rabbits holding on to carrots, which represented man and his hope and faith for protection; birds, which are the universal symbol of happiness; or traditional blown ornaments that have been hand-painted.

American Shiny Brite in original boxes and figural vintage ornaments are also in demand. A pack of twelve usually sells for $12 to $20, and individual turn-of-the-century German-blown ornaments can bring in as high as $80. And don’t forget the “pickle.”

The Christmas Pickle is an old German tradition, and the pickle was the last ornament to be hung on the Christmas tree. The first child to find the pickle got an extra present.

And just in case you have a vintage “Snow Baby” hiding in the bottom of the box, you might want to tuck it into a safe place. The bisque two-and-a-half to six-inch range jointed angel babies are still quite popular and can range in value up to $35 each. The earlier ones made during the 1890s can command even more money, especially the “Santa Elves.” Happy Holidays from Ask the Appraisers!

– Contact Tom Helms at or A-Z Appraisal & Estate Consultants; 5525 N. 12th St., Phoenix, AZ. 85014; email