Shiny Brite Christmas Tree Ornaments
The Shiny Brite story begins after World War I with Max Eckardt, a German born in 1890 who first started in the toy industry. In 1926, though, he officially entered the ornament business with his brother, Ersnt, opening a factory in Oberlind, where his relatives and employees hand-decorated the glass balls.
With another war on the horizon, Eckardt feared the United States’ supply of German glass ornaments would be compromised, compelling him to found, in 1937, the Shiny Brite Company. The inspiration for the name is obvious: The insides of the ornaments were coated with silver nitrate so they would stay shiny, season after season.
To keep his company afloat, Eckardt sought the help of New York’s Corning Glass Company in 1937—with the promise that Woolworth’s would place a large order if Corning could modify its glass ribbon machine, which made light bulbs, to produce ornaments. The machine switchover was a success—molten glass was shaped into balls with the help of compressed air—and Woolworth’s ordered more than 235,000 ornaments; in December 1939, the first machine-made batch was shipped to Woolworth’s Five-and-Ten-Cent Stores, where they sold for two to ten cents apiece.