Page 51 - The Hunt Magazine - Winter 2019
P. 51

                  Yet, most people go through a period in their 20s when they want nothing do with dusty old family items. “As a result, you can find many Christmas vintage decorations
at estate sales, flea markets and even garage sales,” Brenner says. “I’ve seen a grandma’s feather Christmas tree worth $800 at an estate sale that had been tossed out by the kids because it looked too old. But when they get in their 30s they go looking for these childhood memories again.”
Rowland offers another reason why people go looking. “There may be only one ceramic Christmas tree that grandma made in the 1960s when they were popular, so only one of her four children will be able inherit it,” says Rowland, who has many such green trees with twinkling lights in her stall—one priced at $70.
What else is popular among people looking for their childhood Christmas? “Lots of people have Santa collections,” says Rowland, who began collecting antiques when she lived in England and Germany (“there are more Christmas antiques from Germany than any other
country”) and still frequents local auctions and estate sales. “People call me Mrs. Klaus,” she says.
Rowland also has her own unusual Christmas collection that she’s hesitant
to break up for sale—vintage Christmas tree stands, mostly from Europe. “What’s unusual is that people there generally have smaller homes, so the trees and their stands are much smaller than ours,” she notes.
Brenner says there’s a lot of demand for vintage cookie cutters and old hard-candy and chocolate molds. “Grandmothers today like to make hard candy and Christmas cookies with their young grandchildren,” he says.
Times do change, however. “You have to remember that our grandparents reused about everything,” Brenner says. “Today, you see trees on the curbs with strands of glitter still hanging on them. People used to pick these off strand by strand and use them again the next year.”
Brenner’s parents never trusted electric tree lights. “They used candles to light their trees up until the 1970s,” he says.
Of course, family heirlooms do not just appear. We have to go shopping today
for ornaments and decorations that will become vintage in a generation or two. We also invent “new” old traditions. “After Hagley Museum did a Christmas tree decorated with pieces of crystal like those in chandeliers, my whole crystal collection sold out,” says Rowland.
Some people like to go big with holiday antiques. Around here, it’s not unusual to find a horse-drawn sleigh or fancy carriage parked in front of a house, its horse collar filled with jingle bells—minus the horse, of course.
But it’s generally the smallest of items that are most treasured. “You find very few ornaments that are truly 100-year-old antiques, because they’re so fragile and breakable,” says Rowland.
Sometimes, Brenner says, families
value these ornaments perhaps a bit too much. “There are probably bigger family disagreements and hurt feelings over who gets what bulb or ornament than anything else,” he says. o
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