Merry and Pink: A Very Vintage Christmas

Silver, white and pastels go hand-in-hand, especially when sourcing vintage.

Vintage Christmas decor
When purchasing ornaments online, ask to have them double-boxed to prevent damage in shipping.

Vintage Christmas ornaments, whether inherited from grandparents or carefully curated by visiting flea markets, auctions and the like, will bring nostalgia and tradition to the holiday home. Vintage Christmas décor is so popular that a search on eBay for “vintage holiday” will yield over 122,000 items classified by year, make, color and even country. These ornaments of yesteryear bring a softer palette to the season by replacing the typical bright reds and greens with ethereal hues of aqua, faded silver, and muted green and pink.

pink hallway
Vintage bottlebrush trees and wreaths are very popular and even harder to find. They come in beautiful shades of aqua, silver, white and pink, and some are adorned with small glass ornaments or flocked with fake snow.

Shiny-Brite, one of the most popular brands of vintage ornaments, first came on the scene in the 1950s. These delicate glass ornaments come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with pink the most sought after. The more intricately shaped ornaments command a higher price, and some are even packaged in the original box, which is ideal for purists. Most are marbled and freckled by age and time.

Shiny-brite ornaments
Use ornaments that are missing their metal tops to fill glass bowls and place the bowls around the house.

Vintage bottlebrush trees and wreaths are very popular and even harder to find. They come in beautiful shades of aqua, silver, white and pink, and some are adorned with small glass ornaments or flocked with fake snow. A few were made in the style of a music box: The tree sits atop a round pedestal made from tin, which, when wound from the bottom, plays a Christmas song.

Feather tree
A 1940s white feather tree sits atop vintage glass cake plates surrounded by silver ornaments.

Before Shiny-Brites and bottlebrush trees, German glass ornaments were king. They were handblown, made of thick glass and were sometimes intricately painted. Known as kugels (a German word meaning “sphere”), they were originally sold as window decorations, but soon families delighted in using them to decorate the holiday tree. Kugels demand a high price in the marketplace, especially those that still retain most of their original paint.

Vintage Christmas Tree
Store your ornaments from year to year by color, shape and size.

Glass ornaments went from a cottage industry to an international phenomenon when Frank Woolworth, the founder of F. W. Woolworth and Company (whose stores were often referred to as “five and dimes”) opened his first store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He bought $25 worth of the ornaments, and they sold out in two days. With over 3,000 Woolworth stores, he went on to make millions from ornament sales alone.

Seasonal greens
Fresh greens are the perfect accompaniment to your vintage ornaments.

Mix your vintage ornaments with fresh greens from the season. Add pink ribbons, roses and anything that sparkles. Give yourself a few weeks to decorate, taking each ornament out one at a time to capture the specific memory that it brings. And may your days be merry and pink.

Read more of Gay’s home styling advice on her blog Canterbury Cottage Designs.

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Collecting: Floral Paintings

Learn the ins-and-outs of collecting beautiful antique floral artwork.

Photography by Gay VanBeek
Photography by Gay VanBeek

Most people enjoy receiving a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and roses seem to carry that little something special. Collecting paintings depicting floral arrangements will ensure that your home abounds with floral arrangements at all times. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Some people have been collecting for years, whereas others are just starting out. The following are some tips for beginners, and perhaps a refresher for those with a burgeoning knack for assembling a fine collection.

 

Photography by Gay VanBeek
Photography by Gay VanBeek

Train your eye to recognize value.

According to Gay Van Beek, floral painting aficionado and head “Romantic” at www.canterburycottagedesigns.com, “When looking to purchase an antique oil on canvas, you need to inspect both the front of the painting and the back of the canvas. The painting on the front will be crackled with age, sometimes with small holes and even tears that have been repaired by placing tape over them from the back. The back of the canvas on an older painting will be dark tan to dark brown in color and stained with age. The canvas on a newer painting will be just slightly yellowed or all white. Recognize the finish, the feel of the canvas and even the smell of the aging paint.”

 

Photography by Gay VanBeek
Photography by Gay VanBeek

Start by purchasing a few inexpensive prints.

Ms. Van Beek adds, “Antique oils on canvas are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and most amateur collectors love the old patina of the paintings as much as the roses themselves. The dark backgrounds add a punch of color to any home décor and look particularly stunning when placed against an all‐white palette.”

 

Photography by Gay VanBeek
Photography by Gay VanBeek

Study resources as much as possible.

Visit museums, exhibits and by all means talk to artists and other collectors. Not only will you gain knowledge, you might establish a meaningful friendship.

Ms. Van Beek explains, “Many rose artists today fashion their paintings after the American painter Paul de Longpre. Although he was born in Lyon, France, de Longpre is classified as an American painter because most of his work was completed in the Los Angeles, California, area. His home and lavish gardens were the first tourist site in Hollywood and, because his gardens were so beautiful, he was often called the King of Flowers. De Longpre is most known for his “yard‐long” paintings (long, narrow paintings) that are very popular today.”

 

Get as much hands on experience as possible.

In conclusion, she professes, “If the painting is framed, the best way to determine the age of the painting is to remove the frame. Is the canvas nailed to the stretcher? Pre‐1915 canvases were always nailed while their newer counterparts were stapled. Check the nails—are they shiny? If so, there’s still a good chance it’s old and was just re-stretched. The wood on the back of the stretcher of a true antique painting should be very dark. The darker the wood, the older the painting is. It is rare, but occasionally the original label will be intact indicating who sold the painting, where it was auctioned, or the art gallery from which it originated.”

You’re all set to start your floral painting collection, or continue your current assemblage with an expanded expertise. We want to thank Ms. Gay Van Beek for her wonderful contributions and expertise in this niche of collectibles.

A huge “Thank you” goes out to you from Romantic Homes Magazine. We appreciate you.

Access this helpful guide for more information on what to look for when considering the purchase of an antique painting at http://www.collectorsguide.com/fa/fa005.shtml