Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vintage 1950's Christmas Wrapping Paper and Gift Tags

vintage-wrapping-paper

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:
1950s-wrapping-paper



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.

vintage-christmas-tags1

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":
vintage-christmas-tags2


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


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):
1950s-christmas-tags2


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

6 comments:

  1. wow! I'm drooling here..what great treasures :)

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  2. Cheep, cheep! You can buy these things for only a few dollars on good 'ol eBay!

    I have my eye on a few of these tag "lots" already. =)

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  3. In my research I found that one of the main sources of tags for 1950s and earlier households were last years christmas cards. Though "green" wasn't what it means today, back then people just recycled more due to their own smartness concerning money probably garnered from two world wars and the depression. Old cards were saved every year and then cutting them up or cutting out certain elements were part of the 'gift wrapping' tradition. I hope this helps.

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  4. Ahh... Thank you! Yes my parents (who lived through the Depression and WWll) would sometimes also use bits of wrapping paper cut and folded into little mini "cards" with the name written inside.

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  5. Hello!

    I am looking for Retro Christmas cards that were highly embelished with glitter, small stones, scalloped edges, like seen at the beginning of "It's A Wonderful Life".

    Anyone have any?

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  6. Love this post-just found it. I have thing for vintage paper and posted much of my wrapping stuff this year. :)

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