Why some Christmas ornaments become collectibles while others have almost no value after M&S or TKmaxx sold them to you? Of course, the first reason would be the age of the decoration. As for today Christmas ornament is considered a rarity if it was made before 1966; the value of the decorations produced after this year - is in personal memories. Nevertheless, I come across many collectors who would value 1970's ornaments as much as the ones made in 1940's. So there must be something else apart from the antique status.
Let's not forget that most of the Christmas decorations before the plastic era were handmade. For many years the Industrialisation could not manage the technique for mass production of Christmas ornaments. The majority of a Christmas ornaments produced before 1960's are actually handmade. Who made them? Artists did. Working in ateliers and workshops in a cottage industry format they were different from country to country, region to region, town to town. Atelier artists specialising in glass, wood, cotton and paper techniques. They were responsible for the design of an ornament, its artistic quality and expressiveness. Vast majority of these artists did not receive any credit. Sometimes we know the region which was responsible to produce a specific order from the government. That was the case, for example, with decorations produced in the USSR, where, documents reveal, there was a deficiency of ornaments after they were "allowed" again in 1936 after almost ten years of banning workshops and chasing religious celebrations. In fact, there was a whole scientific research institute working on Soviet toys design and trees decorations had their come-back as tree "toys". They realised that a tree "toy" has also a valuable potential to form Soviet minds and promote Soviet ideology.
A whole country social and economical history can be traced by some tiny seasonal ornaments! If you would like to hear more on this fascinating topic, you should email me to book a talk with demonstration at your venue.
And finally, there's a powerful sentimental value. Many families in the end of XIX-middle of XX centuries were making their own Christmas decorations at home and that is particularly interesting and surely has a historical and personal significance. I recently talked to one lady about my ornaments collection and my personal choice when going for another item, I tried to explain her why I put so much effort in my work on Christmas ornaments. And then her face suddenly changed as she rembered: when her family were emigrating from Latin America to Europe they didn't take many things with them, only some money, jewellery and Christmas decorations...