Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vintage 1950's Christmas Wrapping Paper and Gift Tags


I'm not sure if this paper is really from the 1950's as advertised in the auction (above).

I'm curious: Do any of you ever wrap your Christmas gifts in vintage paper and use mid-century tags and such?

While checking out eBay for these items, the only "truly" vintage wrapping paper seemed to be those folded squares that came in boxes. Like this:

I wonder: When did rolled wrapping paper come about?

Ah ha! Here is an excerpt about the history of gift or wrapping paper:

Early on gifts were wrapped in simple tissue paper or more sturdy brown paper.

The technology did not exist to mass produce a decorated, foldable, paper until the 1890's, when developments in printing presses allowed colored ink to be printed fluidly on stiffer papers.

Wrapping paper's biggest name, Hallmark, stumbled upon the gift wrap market by accident. In 1917, the Hall Brothers's typical offering of green, red, and white tissue paper had sold out in their Kansas City, Missouri store a few days before Christmas. The resourceful owner, Rollie Hall, had sheets of decorative envelope liners shipped over from a manufacturing plant. He placed these large patterned sheets on top of a showcase and sold them for 10 cents each. The decorative paper quickly sold out. The next year, the sheets sold for three for 25 cents, and again they quickly disappeared. The brothers began printing their own Christmas wrapping paper, and soon gift wrap sales rivaled their greeting card department.

Early gift wrappers had to be especially dexterous; scotch tape wasn't invented until 1930! And it wasn't until 1932 that the rolls of adhesive tape were sold in dispensers with cutter blades. Before then packages were tied up with string and sealing wax. In the 20's and 30's small sticky circles were sold in packets along with folded papers that allowed the wrapper to attach the paper. During this time also, small gift tags and a type of sticky decorative ribbon were developed, often included in packets of matching wrapping paper.

Over the years the look of wrapping paper changed as well. The first wrapping paper was decorated in the ornate style of the Victorian era, similar to the Christmas greeting cards that had become all the rage. Gilded flourishes of cherubs, birds, and flowers draped across sheets of popular wrapping papers. In the 30's and 40's, patterns became more stylized due to the popularity of Art Deco. Decorations moved away from nature to symbols we commonly associate with Christmas today. Popular patterns included ice skaters, snowflakes, Christmas trees, and candles. While the symbols remained the same, the artwork became more realistic again in the 50's and 60's. By the 70's and 80's, Madison Avenue had realized the potential of wrapping paper and hence, wrapping paper often had movie or TV show tie-ins, with designs incorporating popular movie or cartoon characters.

Ah ha! Now we know!

I have this "thing" where it's very important for me to determine what era an item was produced. I've become quite good at deciphering font styles and design, but I wasn't sure as I looked at tags exactly what era they were made in.


This (above) are from the late 1960's - early 1970's, or at least the green and orange tags I recognize from way back when.

And these look more 1950's, but you can never tell if some were reproductions. They look "authentic":

But here we can see the font style on the "Christmas Assortment" package, and that is clearly late 1940's- 1950's:

And here you can distinguish designs that look similar to greeting cards in the '40's and early '50's in the blue bell (located top, left-ish) and the Santa's (middle, right):

So, if you are a stickler about what era your Christmas tags were made, I hope this has helped a bit!