Our antiques expert assesses a Shiny Brite Cluster Tree to help determine what it's worth today.
Mid-century Christmas collectibles, made from the 1940s to the 1960s, are especially hot among nostalgic baby boomers. One such decoration is the Shiny Brite Cluster Tree.
Shiny Brite was the largest ornament company in the world after World War II right through 1962, and its ornaments remain beloved. Max Eckardt, who had emigrated from Germany, established the company in 1937, decorating glass ornaments produced by New York’s Corning Glass Co. Many glass ornaments at that time were imported from Germany, so the fact that Shiny Brites were made here was a huge selling point during the war.
This 19-in. Shiny Brite cluster tree is a good example of the company’s innovation. Used as a sideboard decoration or centerpiece, it’s made up of 20 glass ornaments that spiral around a supporting rod to form a tree. Some trees had multicolored ornaments; others, like this one in pure 1950s pink, were all one color. (Oxidized rings often form on vintage Shiny Brites, fading the colors, because of the internal silvering.)
If you are looking at buying a vintage cluster tree, be sure it has all the original components as listed on the box lid. And don’t forget that a box in good condition, with colors that are still bright, adds to the value. This one is worth about $100.
Note: Although Shiny Brite closed its doors in 1962, Christopher Radko reproductions of its very popular ornament designs have been sold in retail stores since 2001.
Cleaning Tip: Never use water or other liquids to clean vintage Shiny Brites; just buff carefully with a super-soft cloth to shine.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)
Photography by Country Woman.