Dresden ornaments are some of the most charming and beautiful decorations ever manufactured for the Christmas tree. Taking their name from the Dresden-Leipzig area from which they were made, these little embossed cardboard creations come in a seemingly endless variety of shapes: suns, moons, fish, every imaginable animal, including exotic creatures such as polar bears, storks, eagles, peacocks and alligators. There were miniature sailboats and ocean liners, an entire orchestra of musical instruments, sleighs, coaches pulled by horses with tiny coachmen – practically everything one could imagine.

Most “Dresdens” were only 2-3 inches in size and were gilded or silvered, although some were painted by artists. Dresdens were primarily made between 1880 and 1910. They were manufactured using cardboard, dampened to make it flexible. It was then pressed in a stamping die, with each piece having an equivalent depression on a counter die. One ornament was often made of several pieces which, when dry, were taken home by cottage workers and assembled.

Despite the fact that many thousands were produced, relatively few Dresdens remain today, making them highly prized collectibles.