Dresden Ornaments

- Manufacturers

Not all manufacturers of 'Dresden Christmas tree decorations' are known to this day. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that only a few sales catalogues from the time have survived that could give an insight into the product range at that time, and on the other hand, only few manufacturers openly advertised that they produced Christmas tree decorations made of cardboard. And even for those who did refer to this in their advertising, it is for the most part no longer possible today to determine what kind of Christmas tree decorations they produced. Christmas tree decorations made of paper or cardboard are a broad field. The term does not automatically mean that the finely embossed three-dimensional 'Dresden ornament' was meant. There were also stars, angels, aphorisms, and other festive articles with Christmas motifs punched out of and printed on flat cardboard. Even the reference that companies produced "Christmas tree decorations in gold and silver cardboard" did not automatically mean that the 'Dresden ornaments' variants were meant.

Manufacturers who demonstrably also produced Dresden ornaments as Christmas tree decorations

Based on old catalogues or references in old publications, it has so far been possible to identify with certainty five companies by name that produced 'Dresden Christmas tree decorations'. Their names are: 

Carl Wenzel, Dresden (owners were Carl Oswald Wenzel and Carl Bruno Wenzel). Between 1860 and 1919, they produced dummies, Christmas tree decorations, items for cotillion tours, fine cardboard boxes, festive articles, toys, and publishing products made of cardboard or cardboard.

Gelbke & Benedictus, Dresden (founded in 1870, owned by E. Mor. Gelbke and C. Jos. Benedictus). They produced paper Christmas tree decorations as early as 1875.[i] They also supplied Attrappen, artificial flowers, cotillon and carnival articles, paper lanterns and Christmas tree decorations.[ii]

H. Gottschald & Co, Dresden. The company produced military props for boys such as cardboard helmets and breastplates, cotillon medals, carnival caps, cardboard bonbonnieres, and Christmas tree decorations. In the Preis-Courant der Phantasie- & Luxus-Cartonnagen-Fabrik Saison 1885–86, the company offered Christmas tree ornaments and bonbonnieres.

E. Neumann & Co., Dresden (founded 1887), also produced Attrappen, cotillion and carnival articles, decorations, Christmas-crackers, costumes, caps, paper lanterns and Christmas tree decorations. In a price list from 1888/89, 59 individual numbers and 22 different assortments of 'Dresden ornaments' objects were offered to consumers. Neumann & Co. produced many of the well-known 'Dresdner ornaments' animal representations. They offered these in cartons of 6, 10 and 12. Customers were also able to buy five carton variants with 50 different objects each.

This series of manufacturers also includes a fifth company that was not based in Dresden. We are talking about: 

N[iels] L[und] Chrestensen, Erfurt (founded in 1867 as an art and trade nursery). At the end of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th century, Cotillon articles were also produced here. In the 1880 catalogue, the company advertised, still very marginally, Christmas tree ornaments and decorations. Over the years, it continued to develop its product range. You can see this clearly in their 1888 price list.

Chrestensen offered their customers four assortments (containing 35, 40, 50 or 60 different items as Christmas tree ornaments), "made of the finest and cleanest embossed metal paper in combination with coloured galantine and silk of the most highly elegant design". Since the Chrestensen company also acted as resellers of other producers' products in the Cotillon items, it is not entirely clear whether, and if so to what extent, this also applied to the Christmas tree ornaments. 

The companies mentioned above were primarily specialists in decorating festivities and dance events. For their customers, they produced countless decorative pieces made of paper, cardboard, carton, or papier-mâché. Their product portfolio included Attrappen , bonbonnieres , all kinds of objects for cotillon medals and cotillon tours . These objects, like the Christmas tree decorations, were mostly made of paper / cardboard / paperboard and often represented everyday objects in miniature.

The latter items were particularly popular with customers. As a result, they were rarely thrown away. Like the cardboard Christmas tree decorations, these pieces were also hung on the Christmas tree. This is one of the reasons why it is almost impossible to draw a line between Dresden ornaments and objects for Cotillon tours. Moreover, it was quite common for objects to have a hermaphroditic function. On the one hand, they were intended for Cotillon tours, but on the other hand they were also sold as Christmas tree decorations. This can be well illustrated by the example of miniature musical instruments made of cardboard, such as harps, guitars, lutes, lyras or trumpets.

Because of this unclear demarcation, the range of manufacturers may well have been much wider. Other candidates that I have been able to find so far and who may also have made Dresden Christmas tree decorations, are named alphabetically below. The difficulty for me is that there is no evidence, for example in the form of old sales catalogues, to verify whether, and if so, which of these producers made three-dimensional Christmas tree decorations.

Christmas tree ornament manufacturers who may have produced 'Dresden ornaments ' or Christmas tree ornaments made of cardboard:

M. Alpian-Bennewitz, Leipzig. The company had a large product portfolio of Attrappen, cotillon articles, garlands, postcards, house blessings and sayings, Christmas crackers, kitchen and toilet papers, paper plates, writing, painting, and drawing supplies, joke articles, table and hall decorations, bags and Christmas tree articles made of cardboard. It was very successful and won awards and medals at world exhibitions (Moscow 1872, Leipzig 1887, and Chicago 1894).

German Christmas tree decorations and dummies Manufactur Benas & Co., Berlin and Oberwiesenthal

Franz Fröhlich, Dresden (founded 1832) is mentioned in the 1893 edition of the Fabrikanten Adressbuch vom Königreich Sachsen und den Thüringischen Staaten as a 'Fabrik für Cotillon- und Baumverzierungen'.[iii] In an advertisement from 1906, it is described as a Royal Saxon Court supplier. The advertisement says: 'Factory stock of cotillons as headdresses, cotillon tours, cotillon medalls, Attrappen [sic!], tree ornaments, illumination lanterns, bigotphones'.

Arthur Fuchs & Co, Lauscha. In the address book Adressbuch der gesamten sächsisch-thüringischen Industrie published by the Export Association for the Kingdom of Saxony in 1911, it says about the production line: "Glass articles, artificial fruits etc. made of embossed gold and silver cardboard and tinsel.[iv]

Heinrich Grotjan, Dresden (founded in 1884) advertised in 1901 as being a "factory of Christmas tree decorations of all kinds (except glass and tin)". Among other things, it produced cotillon and carnival articles. Then in 1907, an advertisement read as follows: "Speciality Christmas tree decorations of embossed gold and silver cardboard and tinsel. Cotillon articles, paper headdresses, tours, medals, etc." Grotjan exported his products to Russia and North America, among others. In the address book of all Saxon-Thuringian industry published by the Export Association for the Kingdom of Saxony in 1901, the company was listed under the heading Christmas tree decorations in the sub-category a.: 'Cartonnages'.

F. W. Hoppenworth, Berlin (founded 1838). Bookbindery and factory of cotillion decorations, produced, among other things, Attrappen, bouquets, cotillion articles, Christmas crackers, medals and Christmas tree decorations (according to the Berlin Address Book 1887).

Albert Hoyer & Sohn, Dresden (founded 1865) was also listed in the address book Adressbuch der gesamten sächsisch-thüringischen Industrie published by the Export Association for the Kingdom of Saxony in 1901 under the heading 'Christmas tree decorations in the subcategory a.: Cartonnages'. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find any further references as to what exactly Hoyer & Sohn manufactured.

Hubold & Co, Dresden. This company produced, among other things, Attrappen for Christmas trees and for filling with confectionery (according to advertising 1889/90).

Kröber and Lahode, Dresden. Cardboard factory that produced Attrappen, cotillon articles and paper lanterns (according to the Dresden address book 1890. The company was probably renamed Carl Helck in 1900).

A. Kunze & Co, Buchholz. According to a statement in the address book Adressbuch der gesamten sächsisch-thüringischen Industrie published in 1901, the company advertised that it also produced " Christbaumschmuck in der Unterkategorie a.: Cartonnagen (Christmas tree decorations in gold and silver cardboard)". I know them mainly for their cotillon medals, their angel wings for Christmas performances and their tiaras and crowns made of cardboard.

Ed. Moniae, Berlin (founded in 1830. Celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1930). Luxury stationery manufacture, Christmas tree decorations, Attrappen.

Robert Richter, Wurzen (founded around 1900). In the address book Adressbuch der gesamten sächsisch-thüringischen Industrie published by the Export Association for the Kingdom of Saxony in 1901, the company was listed under the heading Christmas tree decorations in the sub-category a.: 'Cartonnages'. An advertisement stated: paper lanterns, balloons, Christmas tree decorations, Easter bags, bock caps.

J. C. Schmidt, Erfurt was a manufacturer of cotillion, ball, and joke articles as well as hall decorations. He also offered Christmas tree decorations, although these were partly taken over from the Dresden company Neumann & Co.

Max Spillner, Radebeul-Dresden. Luxury cartonnage factory that made Attrappen and filler articles.

5 Bild DP Hersteller Spillner

C. R. Springfeld, Dresden. Factory for cotillon medals and Attrappen.

A. Villwock, Berlin: factory for fantasy cartons, bonbonnieres, Easter egg Attrappen, Christmas tree decorations and cotillon objects (among others mentioned in the Berlin address book of 1884).

Wurzener Cartonnagenfabrik Pflaum & Baeßler, Wurzen (founded in 1882 by Georg Pflaum, his brother, and a Mr. Baeßler). They produced fine cardboard boxes for the chocolate, confectionery, and food industries. In 1890, Otto Paul Kraner took over the company. Under his management, Attrappen (mainly for the chocolate industry), Christmas tree decorations, cardboard boxes in all sizes, luxury articles, cotillon items, cardboard Easter eggs and paper lanterns were manufactured.

Zimmermann & Breiter, Wurzen (founded in 1857). The two bookbinders Carl August Zimmermann and Bernhard Breiter initially produced fancy articles, cardboard boxes, and caskets. In 1893, the company was expanded to include a lithographic workshop and lithographic printing works.[v] The product line now included Attrappen, Christmas tree decorations made of cardboard or paperboard, globes in various sizes, Easter eggs, fantasy and luxury cardboard boxes and boxes of all kinds (mainly for the confectionery and jewellery industry). An article in the Gartenlaube from 1874 states, among other things:

‘The gentlemen Zimmermann and Breiter employ mostly girls in their very well-run establishment in the manufacture of the neatest, daintiest little paper sachets (knick-knacks)’.

Around 1900, the company is said to have had almost 1,000 employees.

Finally, it only remains to say where such pieces could be bought. Such things were advertised to the customer either through catalogues, in shops or at exhibitions. Producers and resellers in turn met regularly at the famous Leipzig Fair. Here there were several fairs a year based on different themes. Toys, carnival and cotillon articles as well as Attrappen and Christmas tree decorations were offered at so-called 'Musterlagermessen' (sample stock fairs) in spring (for example at the 'Vor-Oster' or the regular Easter fair). Manufacturers could present a selection from their product portfolio. Foreign customers were thus able to place their orders for the Christmas business already in spring. The manufacturers, in turn, had enough time to produce and prepare things for export.  

[i] Pieske, Christa: Das ABC des Luxuspapiers. Herstellung, Verarbeitung und Gebrauch 1860 bis 1930. With the collaboration of Konrad Vanja and others, Berlin 1984 (accompanying volume to the exhibition).

[ii] Fabrikanten Adressbuch vom Königreich Sachsen und den Thüringischen Staaten. Edited according to officially revised original documents by O. Flohr, Dresden 1893, p. 34.

[iii] Fabrikanten Adressbuch vom Königreich Sachsen und den Thüringischen Staaten. Edited according to officially revised original documents by O. Flohr, Dresden 1893, p. 34.

[iv] Export-Verein im Königreich Sachsen (Hrsg.): Adressbuch der sächsisch-thüringischen Industrie, Dresden 1911, p. 273.

[v] Klinkhardt, Richard: Die Wurzener Industrie 1797–2002 (Sächsisches Wirtschaftsarchiv E.V. Erinnerungen 5), Beucha 2005, p. 94 ff.