Barbie No. 1.
Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise.
Mario and Luigi.
Everyone has a favorite Hallmark Christmas ornament.
What started in 1973 with some simple glass balls and yarn now incorporates the best of pop culture, and this November, metro Detroiters will have the opportunity to view some of the rarest, most collectible Hallmark ornaments when more than 7,000 go on display at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
History of Hallmark Keepsake ornaments
Hallmark was founded in 1910 by teenage entrepreneur J.C. Hall, who started a postcard company in a small town in Nebraska. Later, Hall opened a stationary store with his brother in Kansas City, Missouri.
Due to limited resources, Hall carried all his postcards in two shoeboxes as he traveled to Missouri by train.
After a fire wiped out the store inventory, the brothers brought an engraving firm, which transpired into the first set of Hallmark card designs.
By 1966, Hall and his brother stepped down from the company, and Hall's son, Donald J. Hall, became president. He invested in new ventures, particularly Christmas decor. The keepsake ornament series began with six glass balls and 12 yarn figures, which were only available for a limited time.
The keepsake ornaments were made with the intention of creating a new holiday tradition among families. It turned out to be a huge hit, with rare or highly sought-after ornaments bringing hundreds of dollars at auction.
Over the years, Hallmark made around 8,400 ornaments across 100 different series and sparking the creation of the Keepsake Ornament Club with exclusive perks for members.
Ornaments that are most collected vary from different eras. The "Frosty Friends" ornament series is the longest running — 43 years.
In 2022, you can find an original 1973 glass ball ornament online for prices starting at $70. One of the most expensive keepsake ornaments buyers can buy now with a heavy price tag of $500 on eBay is their 2018 "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone" book cover ornament. Hallmark paid homage to the book-turning 20-year-olds.
Modern keepsake ornaments
A new kind of ornament evolved in recent years that include light, sound, and motion.
Hallmark ornaments coming to Michigan
The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation will host a members-only preview on Saturday, Nov. 19, featuring their collection Miniature Moments: A Journey Through Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments. Guests will see more than 7,000 Hallmark ornaments made between 1973 and 2009.
Hallmark says these ornaments “capture meaningful moments, honor special relationships, express who you are, and help you relive timeless memories, year after year.”
Non-members of the museum can join today for $55. Free admission and parking are included with the membership. After you sign up, the membership is valid for a year.
In 2010, executive director Rob Gilmer filmed their movie "Perfectly Prudence" in a west Michigan home owned by a Grand Rapids physician. Golden Globe winner Jane Seymour was featured in the film that aired on Hallmark Channel.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments coming to Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation