design & inspiration today: Shiny and Brite

America’s Most Nostalgic Christmas Ornaments
By Robert C. Runge Jr.

Originally published in the December 2013 Busy Bee Trader

 So many things remind us of fond childhood holiday memories and the thrilling anticipation of Christmas. For some of us, the ANTICIPATION was the best part of the entire holiday season! All through autumn we would begin suffering those little twinges until finally, on a day in early December when the Firestone Christmas albums begin to play on the stereo Mother lets us accompany her to the attic to retrieve the decorations!

The first whiff of those cartons is intoxicating ~ the intermingling fragrance of ancient paper and cardboard mixed with bits of dried evergreen inadvertently packed the year before, and the heady aroma of old light strings all create a memorable perfume.

Each carefully packed carton is a treasure trove of heirlooms and hand-me-downs: Great Grandmother’s ceramic bells and figurines, the hand-painted ornaments from a favorite aunt, some delicate antique German figural ornaments from generations before, clumps of obsolete lead tinsel, and a collection of hand-me-down Christmas lights used once but kept year-after-year, ‘just in case…’ And finally, the SHINY-BRITES, the decorations held most dear.

During the 1940s-early 1970s, millions of Shiny-Brite ornaments were produced in a myriad of forms, colors and decorations and ranged from the smallest 8mm miniature ball to the largest jumbo 6” snow-capped bell. These ornaments have become a part of our American Christmas holiday celebration. They are nostalgically regarded as symbols of magical Christmas’ past and lovingly handed down to continue gracing thousands of Christmas trees each year.

Max Eckardt created the Shiny-Brite brand in 1937. He was a German Christmas ornament importer, whose family had a long history of manufacturing toys and decorations in Germany. With the onset of World War II and German ornaments no longer available in the U.S., Max Eckardt, with F. W. Woolworth’s (the largest Christmas retailer in the United States at the time), contracted with the Corning Glass Company to begin manufacturing glass Christmas tree ornaments in America. Corning produced ornaments for a variety of decorators and distributors, but Max Eckardt became the largest distributor of Corning ornaments under his Shiny-Brite brand.

Christopher Radko is the current owner of the brand -- continuing the tradition of making magical memories possible with his extraordinary and beautiful glass ornaments.

full article by Robert C. Runge Jr:


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