Thursday, December 8, 2011

History of the German Glass Christmas Ball

I purchased my first Christmas balls in 1987 just after I got married. My husband and I bought 4 boxes of glass balls for our first Christmas tree. Two boxes were called Pearl White and the other two were called December Red. There has not been a single Christmas since that I have not used them in some combination! Over the years, I've broke 2 red balls and 1 white and have been lucky enough to find an exact match for the red but never one even close to the white.
Close-up of gold Krebs crown

 They have an iridescent quality to them that is just magic under the tree lights. The balls also had the most beautiful crowns. Little did I know way back then how unique and elegant this detail was, and it has become the measure of quality I  search for in every ornament I've bought since. Most crowns on glass balls these days are sadly void of detail and look rather cheap. Thankfully, I saved each crown from the broken balls and have reused them on others. Every once in awhile, I'll find one at an antiques shop or vintage store and buy it on the spot just for the crown!
The peal white Krebs ball is in the upper left corner, just above the felt swan.
Do you see how regal it's gold crown appears compared to the other caps?

The balls were made by a company call Krebs and this was the story contained in the box:

During the Dark Ages, German natives in remote northern Bohemia originated an art form in glassblowing which not only holds a unique place in the 4000 year history of this ancient art, but has become a cherished part of Christian tradition. The Germans had learned this skill (a heritage of Egypt) from wandering Venetian tradesman. They used it to create glass ornaments for adornment of the Tannenbaum (fir tree) in their Yule celebration of the birth of Christ, and thus the Christmas tree was born. Down through the centuries the German glass blowers became famous throughout the world for their blown glass Christmas tree ornaments.

Towards the end of the 17th century many of the German glass blowers migrated from Bohemia to Thuringia, Germany, which became the center of blown glass Christmas ornaments for over 250 years. However, the root of early glass blowers remained in Bohemia where beautiful ornaments were produced. After World War II all Bohemians of German extraction were expatriated. The Krebs family settled in Rosenheim, Bavaria, West Germany, at the foot of the Alps, one of the last to continue the tradition.

Through difficult post war years, the family managed to build a production of traditional ornaments, which is now recognized as the largest of it's kind in Europe. The Krebes family developed exclusive colors and designs, for which they have become famous throughout the free world. The new American plant continues to enlarge and enhance this tradition. Signifying their pride for quality, they decorate each of their ornaments with the crown cap, which evolved as their trademark.


  1. Hello Rebecca

    Thank you for such an interesting post. One can see the quality quite clearly of these exquisite ornaments. I will henceforth be watching for the crown on ornaments.
    Merry Christmas to you and family and I love your blog
    Helen xxx

  2. I just wrote a comment about my favorite vintage ornaments are from Germany. The colors are amazing and they just glow. Just like your beautiful white pearl ball does. Merry Christmas,

  3. Oh, I love important, wonderful, beautiful things. It is so rare today to find a really beautiful thing. Good tip on the crowns...!

    xo Terri

  4. Hello Rebecca:
    What a fascinating little piece of 'history' which was, for the most part, totally new to us.

    Your original German glass balls sound lovely and particularly so for the beautifully detailed crowns which you show,an aspect of this type of tree decoration which is often overlooked or not even considered at all.

  5. LOVE that they
    not only endured,
    but flourished.
    Also, the fact that
    they are still made
    in Europe and America
    is amazing, given
    how much has been
    outsourced to Asia and
    Indonesia. I have a
    few Krebs, myself, and
    love them!

    xx Suzanne

  6. We have friends in Germany who send us wonderful small ornaments for our trees and love them but never knew the history. Thanks Rebecca!

    Happy Friday!

  7. Really interesting background. Thanks and merry Christmas.

  8. I love those detailed "crowns" - so beautiful!! The old German ornaments are indeed fabulous!

  9. I just want to make a dozen little hearts for that post. Love it, and love those exquisite ornaments! Such history and beauty.

  10. Mary,
    Wow, thank you for such a lovely comment!

    To all,
    Thank you for the comments and I am so glad you enjoyed this post, especially since I meant to do it last year and never finished it!


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