Not just for Christ­mas

Why your fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions might be worth more than you think

Surrey Life - - Antiques Scene - WORDS: Fay Wat­son

There’s lit­tle doubt that dec­o­rat­ing the Christ­mas tree is an es­sen­tial part of get­ting into the fes­tive spirit. And whether you string up the lights on a tree filled with hand-me-down dec­o­ra­tions or each year have a new colour scheme, we in­vest a lot in our fes­tive or­na­ments.

It’s a tra­di­tion that goes back to the early Vic­to­rian pe­riod in the UK, when the trend was brought over from Ger­many, and while dec­o­ra­tions at this time mostly came in the form of hand­made pa­per dec­o­ra­tions and can­dles to light the trees up, our love of dec­o­ra­tions has been un­wa­ver­ing ever since. But, as well as our ob­vi­ous sen­ti­men­tal at­tach­ment to the tra­di­tion, there is also a po­ten­tial fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to con­sider as they can of­ten fetch a high price at auc­tion, es­pe­cially for the more unique and quirky pieces on of­fer.

For in­stance, Ger­man or­na­ments from the Vic­to­rian pe­riod do par­tic­u­larly well in Amer­ica. Dres­den or­na­ments, which are em­bossed card­board tree hangers from 1880 to 1910, are listed on spe­cial­ist an­tiques web­sites for up to $2,850USD, while early Ger­man wax Santa Claus fig­urines known as Bel­snick­els are pop­u­lar in col­lec­tor cir­cles, with one fetch­ing $10,000USD re­cently in auc­tion.

“The more quirky the bet­ter at Christ­mas,” says auc­tion­eer and val­uer Gary Don (gary­don. co.uk) when ask what peo­ple should look out for. “And ob­vi­ously, it’s like most things and es­pe­cially mod­ern items, the bet­ter the name, the more money they bring,” he adds.

One place that Gary sug­gests peo­ple pur­chase from is

‘The bet­ter the name, the more money they bring’

the fes­tive lines that big man­u­fac­tur­ers re­lease ev­ery year, which are pop­u­lar in the Christ­mas auc­tions. For ex­am­ple, Swarovski did some boxed glass star dec­o­ra­tions with cer­tifi­cates, which can now go for up to £460 in auc­tion, while Wedge­wood Christ­mas plates can sell for up to £20-£30 a piece at the right time of year.

An­tiques val­u­a­tions are also, of course, de­pen­dent on trends, with dec­o­ra­tions from the 1950s and 1960s do­ing par­tic­u­larly well at the mo­ment, given their pop­u­lar­ity in de­sign. Gary ex­plains that this means things like fairy lights from Wool­worths in this era can bring in as much as £100 to £150.

How­ever, the most cru­cial thing to re­mem­ber when look­ing at col­lect­ing and sell­ing your or­na­ments is that tim­ing is ev­ery­thing. “Christ­mas is the time when these items re­ally fetch the money ob­vi­ously,” Gary ex­plains. “They can be picked up re­ally cheaply in the rest of the year if you’re very care­ful.”

His ad­vice is that you want to be sell­ing items in late Novem­ber and early De­cem­ber, but pick­ing them up in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary time. So whether you’ve got some old an­tique dec­o­ra­tions hang­ing around, or are just in­trigued to see what bar­gains you can buy, it seems that now is def­i­nitely the time to give it a go.

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