Following World War II, the American economy experienced tremendous growth, people by the droves moved into the suburbs and, as a result, the country was transformed into a consumer nation. With the country’s new-found prosperity came a sense of renewed patriotism and the desire to purchase products that were “Made in America”.
After years of war restrictions, and the lack of manufacturing, consumers’ tastes changed from European (German) made decorations to those made in the USA. This new era of wealth, manufacturing and consumerism had a profound effect on the way we purchased and decorated for the holidays.
Christmas ornaments and figurines during this period were relatively inexpensive and easy to produce. Hard Plastic Christmas decorations and other non-breakable materials are characteristic of the 1950’s and 60’s. Santas, angels, bells, and a myriad of other novelty ornaments in festive holiday colors flooded the market via the local 5 & 10 stores like Woolworths and McCrory’s. These small plastic decorations, which were very inexpensive often selling for less than 10 cents, were used as stocking stuffers, party favors and given by thousands of teachers to their students at Christmas. They came in shapes of Santa, snowman, reindeer, elves and a countless number of other shapes usually holding a bunch of cellophane wrapped lollipops or other hard candies. The most popular years for these were from 1952 until around 1958.
The two major manufacturers of these decorations were Rosbro and Rosen of Providence, RI. Other major producers included Bradford Novelty along with Empire, Knickerbocker and TICO Plastics.