Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vintage Addiction: Shiny Briteness

I am an addict. There I said it. Isn't that the first step toward recovery? Well I’m addicted to Christmas, so I’m not really looking to enter into a 12-step program just yet.

Now, when I say I’m addicted to Christmas, I mean the good ol’-Bing-Crosby-singing, multi-colored-fat-bulb-stringing, mercury-glass-ornament-hanging-on-a-tinsel-tree kind of Christmas!

Shiny Brite ornaments, Snapshot Vintage
Over the years I've fed my addiction by buying more ornaments than I could ever use, specifically Shiny Brite ornaments.

So what is it about Shiny Brite ornaments that make them so intoxicating? Maybe it’s that they remind me (and a lot of other folks) of a time before plastic cartoon character ornaments, blinking LED lights and large red and gold lamé bows.  Shiny Brites are the essence of a nostalgic Christmas.


Floral Shiny Brites, This That & Christmas
The simplicity of their design, the worn patina and faded glitter blend together to make the perfect ornament.

Back in the day, these little gems started their life as unadorned glass orbs, were hand-decorated, then machine lacquered at one of four Shiny Brite factories. The inside of the ornament was coated in silver nitrate giving it a shiny and bright look. Get it? Shiny Brite!

Production limitations during World War II forced the elimination of all “nonessential” metals in the manufacturing process, so Shiny Brite ornaments produced during this time have a cardboard cap and no hook.

Stenciled Ornaments, Vintage Biffann
After the war, whether it was a bell, teardrop, pine cone, indent or classic ball shape, these ornaments sported a shiny metal hook and crinkle cap emblazoned with “Shiny Brite, Made in USA.” This is a good way to establish the age of your Shiny Brite ornaments.

By the early 1960’s, demand for glass ornaments was surpassed by “space age” non-breakable plastic decorations and Shiny Brite could no longer compete, eventually closing their doors for good in 1962. 
Shiny Brite Christmas Bells, Mary Beth Hale

Lucky for all us addicts out there, a great number of Shiny Brites have been lovingly preserved and are for sale on Etsy, ready to start their second lives creating fond Christmas memories for a whole new generation.  

Classic Red Shiny Brites, The White Pepper

21 comments:

Jaime @ Hound Dog Digs said...

This is fascinating! I LOVE learning about history, especially the history of vintage objects. Great piece, Bryan!

Niftic Vintage said...

Love the history behind these absolute beauties! I for one am always on the lookout for Shiny's! Thanks for sharing Bryan, you have provided us with a fascinated read!

Miss Magpies Shoppe said...

What a wonderful blog post, Bryan! I will be thinking of you when I am watching the old Christmas movies, especially the ones with Bing Crosby. I love those movies :)

HilltopTimes said...

You are the Shinest Brite, Bryan. And now I am addicted also. These shiny brites are truly part of the history of Christmas in the USA. Wonderful post!

Whimzy Thyme said...

I too - am an addict. Thanks so much for the history lesson Bryan. I will be saving this information in my research file. I appreciate you.

Kathi said...

another group of addicts in our family. our tree is filled with vintage ornaments, many of them shiny brites. we have sooo many more and they have been a hit at every vintage show we do. great to have a little more history on them

Jackie said...

Vintage ornaments are my absolute favorite part of Christmas. (I'm a bit of a magpie...) Thank you for this informative post!

BeeJayKay said...

Great post! I love the vintage ornaments!

Snapshot Vintage said...

My ornaments have never looked so good. And now I have a great thread to refer customers to when they make a Shiny Brite purchase! thanks!

ReconGirl said...

Fantastic post, and just what I needed today to give me a dose of Christmas cheer!

This That And Christmas said...

OH, thank you for the include in this wonderful blog post. I always love when I find other people who appreciate these ornaments as much as I do. I too, own more than I could ever put on my tree!

Story Tellers Vintage said...

Great little history lesson! Thanks for sharing your addiction with us :)

mbh said...

thank you so much for including my Shiny Brite bells :) just love the old ornaments!

Mothra Sue said...

I looooooove Shiny Brite ornaments! What a great post, I especially love that tidbit about ornaments having cardboard caps during WWII to conserve metal!

Wicked Darling said...

Bryan, thanks for sharing your addiction and knowledge!! This is a fabulous post and reminds me of my childhood Christmases. :)

Andrea Holding said...

Fun post! Very informative. I'm proud to say that all of my ornaments are vintage! Thanks, Bryan!

Dave said...

Thanks so much for this most interesting background on a classic vintage ornament - Shiny Brite has been a staple on our Christmas tree year after year! Wonderful to get some historical info - much appreciated Bryan!!!

Annie said...

love this so so so much!!

odd and old said...

healthy addiction me thinks
and jolly interesting read
happy retro baubles to you and yours
x ... ***

gazaboo said...

Fantastic post Bryan! I'll have to look at our vintage ornaments closer.
Our Christmas tree is never complete until grandma's vintage ornaments add the finishing touch. We were just commenting today on how beautiful they look. Thanks for history lesson.

Beverly said...

A wonderful lesson! Much appreciated :) Thank you so much xox!!

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