I like everybody else, if you already haven't, will be decking the halls here at the Casa du Borghese very soon. I always like the decorating.... especially the tree. As I decorate, I'll remember where each and every ornament came from, remembering the past and the present, and those who are still here, or pasted on, and who gave them to me. And some of the ornaments I use are from my good friend, the Dame, and my grandmother. Some are very vintage, and are known as Shiny Brite balls. How many of you recall those???
Some of mine are STILL even in the ORGINAL BOXES! I have a ton of Shiny-Brite, not only that will be placed on the tree, but I will also mix with new balls to fill apothecary jars, bowls, and compotes. If there is one thing I enjoy, it's a Shiny Brite ball!
But what is the actual history of the Shiny-Brite?
The Shiny-Brite company produced the most popular Christmas tree ornaments in the United States throughout the 1940’s and ’50s. In 1937 Max Eckhardt established “Shiny-Brite” ornaments, working with the Corning Glass Company to mass produce glass Christmas ornaments. Eckhardt had been importing hand-blown glass balls from Germany since around 1907, but had the foresight to anticipate a disruption in his supply from the upcoming war. Corning adapted their process for making light bulbs to making clear glass ornaments, which were then shipped to Eckhardt’s factories to be decorated by hand.
The fact that Shiny-Brite ornaments were an American-Made product was stressed as a selling point during World War II. Dating of the ornaments is often facilitated by studying the hook. The first Shiny-Brite ornaments had the traditional metal cap and loop, with the hook attached to the loop, from which the ornament was hung from the tree. Wartime production necessitated the replacement of the metal cap with a cardboard tab, from which the owner would use yarn or string to hang the ornament. These hangers firmly place the date of manufacture of the ornament to the early 1940’s. Following the war, Shiny-Brite introduced a line of ornaments with a newly designed metal hook that provided the user with two lengths of hanger. This arrangement was designed to allow the ornament to fill sparsely limbed areas of a natural tree. The increasing popularity of the aluminum Artificial Christmas tree, first manufactured in 1958, made this device far less attractive to the consumer, as an artificial tree had no gaps to be filled. The demand for glass ornaments waned as plastic ornaments became more popular, ultimately bringing the Shiny-Brite company to close its doors in 1962. What a shame.
Some of my balls are so old, the color has a more "mercury glass" look to it, or are downright faded. But I love the vintage look it gives these gems. Of course, you already knew that shiny bright balls distracted me.