Christmas In July: Holiday Collectibles

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller’s guest has a special “Christmas in July” estate sale approaching, so why don’t find out what holiday collectibles may be worth?

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  • Christmas In July? How To Value Holiday Collectibles

    It might seem like an odd time to talk about Christmas items in the summer, but Shirley Baumann had her reasons.

    Baumann is a certified personal property appraiser and a Registered Wisconsin Auctioneer. She is the owner of Baumann Auction Services and Heirloom Appraisal & Estate Services. An upcoming charity estate sale that she is running will benefit a University of Wisconsin-Madison scholarship fund, and all of the items for sale are holiday themed.

    Baumann said that Christmas items can be sought after if they are one-of-a-kind artist-made pieces, “but also vintage and antique Christmas are collectible,” she said.

    There are national networks and clubs of collectors interested in Christmas items, Baumann said.

    “Some of the things that you see particularly sought after in terms of antique Christmas are the very large papier mache candy containers,” she said. “They’re fragile, so fewer of them last. So, when they did remain in good condition, they’re really sought after. Some of them can go into the thousands of dollars.”

    The Victorian era was known for decorations, and ornaments from that period are popular with collectors. Baumann said in particular that the “very delicate blown glass swans, santas, and things like that are … in the hundreds of dollars.” She said that those ornaments are often decorated with tinsel.

    Mid-century ornaments from the 1940s and ’50s in the U.S. often have flocking on them to replicate snow, and interesting shapes formed by indentations in the glass. Baumann said that those can be picked up starting at about $5.

    Moving up the tree, the larger items that top the display are also collectible, Baumann said, as are strings of lights.

    Some items are collectible individually, but others are more valuable as part of a set, Baumann said. For example, in the upcoming charity estate sale, she said that there is a set of ornaments that are Snow White and the seven dwarves.

    “Having those all together, as a set, and we’ve got the original box for it,” she said, “that makes it more valuable than if you just had Dopey.”

    The ethnic background of where the sale happens can impact the price of items. Baumann said that for example, there may be more people in Wisconsin who are interested in Northern European items than in a part of the country that doesn’t have the same immigration history.

    Germany isn’t only the origin of many Wisconsinites’ ancestors, it’s also where the art and custom of Christmas trees started.

    “The old German kugel, which is a heavy glass-blown ornament, usually in the shape of fruits or nuts, are quite sought-after here,” Baumann said. “Maybe they wouldn’t be in some other part of the country.”

    For collectors who want to buy or sell Christmas items, private sales are often a good resource. Baumann said to watch for estate sales and auctions that are coming up in the area to see if Christmas items are included. But for those buying or selling small numbers of items, she said that those are often sold on-line, on eBay for example.

    An iconic Wisconsin product is very popular with collectors, Baumann said. That’s the Aluminum Specialty Co. of Manitowoc’s Evergleam aluminum Christmas trees.

    “They’re great vintage collectibles,” she said.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Shirley Baumann Guest