Glass Tree Ornaments Originated
Glass Christmas tree ornaments originate in a little town in Germany named Lauscha. It was founded by a group of glassblowers who were fleeing from religious persecution around 1600. The glass-making center they established there became very prosperous, producing pharmaceutical items, glass toys, and eventually glass beads.
As a sideline, some of the glassblowers blew really big beads - large, hollow glass balls they called Kugels. Originally, kugels were hung from ceiling or window frames as a protection against evil spirits.
Kugels were made in three different shapes: balls, grapes and egg or pear shapes. The four most common colors are silver, gold, green and cobalt blue. Other colors are found infrequently. As glass-blowing skills increased, many additional shapes were also made.
F.W. Woolworth was largely responsible for bringing glass ornaments to the United States. In 1880, he invested $25 somewhat reluctantly on his first order. However, the ornaments sold out quickly; and his orders eventually reached many millions of dollars.
Following World War II, when German glass ornaments became available again, Italy also entered the exporting business. Where German kugels were always made of heavy glass, the Italian ornaments were just the opposite, being thin and fragile.
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