Caring for Your
Eighty percent (80%) of
Hallmark Keepsake ornaments are made of high impact Styrene, which
is a very durable, long lasting plastic. These ornaments can usually
be cleaned with a light dusting. If they are stained or very dirty,
a very mild solution of hand dishwashing soap (liquid Ivory or Dawn)
and water should do the trick. Soak for a few minutes, then rinse
well and air dry. Do not scrub! If your piece has any attachments,
such as fabric or ribbon, do not use water as it will be stained
permanently. These pieces can be wiped with a damp cloth.
Keepsake ornaments are
made with a very durable colorfast paint, but they will fade if
displayed in direct sunlight. Normal display during the Christmas
Holiday season should not have any adverse effects. Year-round
display may fade some ornaments if exposed to lights brighter than
75 watts at close range. Normal room light should cause no harm.
If a material other than
high impact styrene is used in Hallmark ornaments, it is usually
printed on the box and in the dream book. Use this information to
determine the correct cleaning method.
Special care instructions
Bisque Porcelain has no
glaze (shine). It will easily pick up hand oils and dirt, so handle
these ornaments as little as possible. When you must handle them, be
sure to wash your hands thoroughly. These ornaments must never be
soaked in water to clean, they will absorb the moisture. Use a very
slightly damp cloth to clean if necessary.
Ceramic Porcelain has a
glaze (it is shiny). It should be cleaned in the same way as bisque
porcelain. The key here is to try and not get these pieces dirty, by
handling with care.
Cold cast resin is an
example of a material used in the '98 Timberwolves. This is a very
delicate material as the paint is not baked on. It will come off!
Use care when cleaning these pieces. Clean with a soft, dry cloth
Die Cast metal is used
in all Kiddie Cars. These items are painted with a baked on finish
similar to your car, and as such are perfect for year round display.
Even though the paint is fade resistant it is recommended that you
keep out of direct sunlight. As these items are made of metal, they
will rust if exposed to water, therefore do not use soap and water
to clean. A soft artists brush can be used to clean very small areas
that gather dust and dirt. Fingerprints can be cleaned by wiping
with a soft cloth, (old cotton diapers work great!) Again care
should be taken when handling these items to avoid getting hand oils
Acrylic is a material
that looks like glass, but it is plastic. It will scratch so avoid
using any abrasives on these pieces. Items can be hand washed in
soap and water and air dry. Even a soft cloth may scratch this kind
of plastic. Do not stack acrylic ornaments on top of each other
without some kind of barrier in between, as they may scratch each
Satin ball ornaments
provide the biggest challenge in cleaning. Many ornaments were made
in the 70's & 80's of this type material, there are no current
ornaments of this type. Due to their age these ornaments sometimes
show many stains and lots of dirt collects in the fibers. A stain is
almost impossible to clean, because any water will cause a bigger
stain to appear. Therefore, they should never be immersed in water,
or even cleaned with a damp cloth as the water will stain the fabric
wrapping the ornament. The best way to clean is to use a vacuum
cleaner with a small attachment, or canned air to blow the dust off.
Glass ball ornaments
that have plastic shrink wrap should never be cleaned with water, as
the water will get under the wrap and may loosen or stain. Again,
dust with a soft cloth, or a slightly damp cloth may be used taking
care to stay away from the shrink wrap. These ball ornaments are
very susceptible to fading. Take care to keep them out of direct
sunlight. These glass balls very frequently have spots on them
either from moisture or they are mildew spots, (which is caused from
storage in a damp location). It is not recommended to try and
clean these, you may end up making the spots worse, or you may chip
some of the paint off. These are very delicate and will break
easily. Handle with care!
Blown Glass should be
cleaned with a damp cloth, but please be aware that some of the
paint used IS water soluble, so proceed with caution!
Magic ornaments should
never be exposed to water!!! Use a dry cloth to clean only after
they have been unplugged from their power source. Magic ornaments
come with a three or four year warranty against manufacturing
defects. If you have a Magic ornament that ceases to work while
under warranty, call 1-800-HALLMARK for details on how to get a
Pressed tin should be
cared for in the same manner as Die Cast Metal. It will rust so
please do not use water to clean.
Pewter is a very
beautiful metal that will naturally darken over time. If you do not
like the darker look of aged pewter you can softly rub with a dry
cotton cloth to restore some of the luster, but be aware that pewter
is a very soft metal and rubbing too briskly, (or rubbing too often)
can wear down some of the details.
Brass Hallmark ornaments
are coated to prevent tarnishing. Care should be taken to never use
a brass polish or any kind of abrasive. Clean using a soft dry
Silver will tarnish with
age. This is a natural occurrance and actually your assurance that
your piece is real silver! Any over-the counter silver polish can be
used to clean your silver ornaments. A liquid dip might be better
than a paste for a finely detailed ornament as it may be difficult
to remove all the paste from the small areas.
Gold plate does not
tarnish. A soft cloth is all that is necessary to clean these
Repairing a broken ornament
The high impact Styrene
ornaments are very durable, but in some cases one will break. Many
times this is in a joint, such as an arm or leg of a character. Heat
and age may loosen the glue holding these joints together. To repair
these pieces, use a "gap filling" super glue. Clean both pieces with
a dry cloth and add a small drop of glue to each side. Hold together
for 30 seconds then lay on a paper towel for 24 hours. Do not wrap
or place in a plastic bag during this time. This waiting period is
required to get a strong hold and to prevent the "glue dust" from
settling on the ornament.
After repairing an
ornament, do not try and repaint to "cover" the seam. It is very
difficult to get an exact color match and most times the paint will
show more than the repair itself.
unfortunately are very difficult, if not impossible to repair. They
should be carefully wrapped in newspaper and thrown away.
It is highly recommended
that all ornaments be stored in their original wrappings in their
boxes. If the boxes are no longer available, or if you don't have
enough space to store in the boxes, wrap in tissue paper or bubble
wrap to protect them from knocking against each other. The boxes
then should be flattened and stored separately. Ornaments should be
stored in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably in an airtight,
waterproof container. Although not waterproof, a corrugated
cardboard box would be the next best thing as long as it is sturdy.
A damp, musty basement or hot humid attic is NOT the area where you
want to store these precious collectibles. The best place to store
is in the living part of your house which is usually climate
controlled year-round. If this is not practical because of space
limitations, a basement is better than the attic because you can use
a dehumidifier to control moisture in the basement. The temperature
extremes in an attic need to be avoided as much as possible. A
temperature extreme is said to be one over 90 degrees or under 40
If you notice a musty or
smoky odor on your ornaments and boxes, you can try several
different methods to help remove the odors. None of them are
guaranteed to work, but they might help.
Loosely pack your
ornaments in a plastic container with a few scented dryer sheets and
leave for a few weeks. The scent of the dryer sheet will take over
the unpleasant scent, this may or may not be the preferred method to
Any ornament that can be
cleaned with water, (see above) can be wiped with a mild solution of
baking soda and water. If the ornament cannot be cleaned with water,
try placing a small cup of dry baking soda next to the ornament in a
small plastic container and seal for a few days/weeks. The baking
soda may absorb the odors. (This is the same principle as putting a
box of baking soda in your refrigerator.)
How would you replace
your precious collectibles if they were ever lost or destroyed by
fire, flood or even theft? Insuring your collection can give you the
protection you need. A documented list of all ornaments and
collectibles in your collection should be kept for insurance
purposes. Before appraising your collection for insurance, it is
wise to contact your insurance agent, because different companies
require different records, but generally the listing should
- Name and issue date
- Purchase price
- Any special markings
- Condition of ornament
- Secondary market
value (replacement cost) .
The listing and any
photos should be kept in a safe place away from the collection, like
a safe deposit box. When talking with your agent, be sure you
purchase adequate insurance to cover the full replacement cost of
the collectible, not the just retail value, which in the case of
ornaments would be the box price.
How do you know what the
full replacement cost would be? There are many reputable guides on
the market, that will help you evaluate the value of your
collectibles. Most insurance companies will accept these values as a
source of the replacement costs.
After you determine the
value of your collection, you must decide with your agent how much
insurance to purchase, the amount of deductible you wish to have,
whether this is a "rider" to an existing policy, or a totally
separate policy. Some companies will insure only up to a specific
dollar amount, be sure to ask! Don't be afraid to call several
different companies and ask about their policies. be sure to
evaluate in your own personal situation whether your risk of loss
outweighs the cost of the insurance.
Information gathered from the "Caring for your
Collection" seminar at the Hallmark 25th anniversary Celebration;
Rosie Wells Secondary Market Price Guide,12th edition; and 1998
Edition of the Collector's Value Guide. ©1998-2003 Linda M.
Wilson - All Rights