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Shopper makes valuable discovery inside bag of ornaments bought at thrift shop: ‘I would have looked right past something like that’

“I inherited one of these from my great-great grandparents and I treasure it beyond words.”

"I inherited one of these from my great-great grandparents and I treasure it beyond words."

Photo Credit: iStock

Christmas decorations tend to be cheap and disposable. But one thrifter recently purchased some that are the exact opposite — completely by accident.

“I bought a bag of ornaments for $3.99 and it contained 6 German Kugel balls from the late 1800s,” the poster wrote, sharing their find with the r/ThriftStoreHauls subreddit.

"I inherited one of these from my great-great grandparents and I treasure it beyond words."
Photo Credit: Reddit
"I inherited one of these from my great-great grandparents and I treasure it beyond words."
Photo Credit: Reddit

German kugel balls, which started to appear in the mid-19th century, were the first commercially produced Christmas decorations. Made of thick glass and coated on the inside with tin, lead, bismuth, or silver nitrate to give them color, these decorations were made to last.

Their quality, history, and age also make them collector’s items — there are dozens of kugel balls listed on Etsy for more than $100, and according to MarthaStewart.com, some of the rarer colors sell for more than $1,000. The thrifter who found these kugels estimated they were worth “$50-100 each.”

Though there are many reproductions that have been made, the thrifter said they confirmed with experts that these were original kugels, writing: “I knew next to nothing about kugels before yesterday and I didn’t know at first if they were repros — but these are genuine antique German kugels from the late 1800s confirmed by about a dozen expert collectors.”

The idea of shopping for Christmas or other holiday decorations at the thrift store has a lot of merit — even if you don’t come away with a set of valuable antiques.

According to Stanford University’s Waste Reduction, Recycling, Composting and Solid Waste Program, household waste increases by more than 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, in large part because of the myriad products we buy around this time that are destined to be simply thrown away: trees, wrapping paper, lights, and more.

By thrifting for decorations, we can cut down on the negative environmental impact of our shopping during the holiday season, while also saving existing and durable products from ending up in a landfill.

The other thrifting enthusiasts on the subreddit were impressed by the find.

“This is why I follow this subreddit. I would have looked right past something like that,” wrote one commenter.

“This is INCREDIBLE! I inherited one of these from my great-great grandparents and I treasure it beyond words…I would be thrilled to find some ‘siblings’ for it on the tree. But at a thrift store? For that amount?! OMG…you are a thrifty winner!” wrote another.

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