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The Enchanting World of Vintage Blow Molds: A Nostalgic Journey Through Time

For collectors and enthusiasts of vintage decorations, blow molds hold a special place in the realm of nostalgic collectibles. These colorful, illuminated figures have lit up gardens, rooftops, and living rooms, bringing festive joy across various holidays. In this post, we delve into the history of blow molds and explore the iconic brands that made these charming ornaments a beloved part of holiday traditions.


A Brief History of Blow Molds


Blow molding as a manufacturing process began in the 1930s but didn't become popular for holiday decorations until the 1950s and 1960s. This technique involves blowing air into a heated plastic tube until it expands to fit a mold—hence the name "blow mold." Once cooled, the plastic retains the shape of the mold, creating everything from Santa Clauses to Halloween pumpkins.


The rise of suburban living post-World War II coincided with the popularity of blow molds, as more families sought to decorate their new homes during the holiday seasons. The affordable, durable, and eye-catching characteristics of blow molds made them a hit, turning them from simple decorations into sought-after collectibles.


Iconic Brands of Vintage Blow Molds


Several manufacturers became famous for their unique and high-quality blow molds. Let's explore some of the most notable ones:


1. Empire Plastics Corporation


Founded in 1958 in Tarboro, North Carolina, Empire Plastics quickly became a leader in the blow mold industry. They produced a wide variety of figures, from traditional Christmas angels and Santas to Halloween ghosts and witches. Empire is particularly known for its detailed, vibrant designs that captured the festive spirit of the holidays.


2. Union Products


Union Products, founded in 1956 in Leominster, Massachusetts, is best remembered for its famous pink flamingo lawn ornament designed by Don Featherstone. The company also created a plethora of other holiday-themed blow molds, which remain highly collectible today. Union Products' pieces are cherished for their classic designs and enduring charm.


3. General Foam Plastics


Another major player was General Foam Plastics, based in Norfolk, Virginia. Established in the late 1950s, they specialized in Christmas and Halloween decorations but also produced items for Easter and other holidays. Their products are known for their durability and the brightness of their colors, making them favorites for outdoor displays.


4. Poloron Products


Based in New Rochelle, New York, Poloron Products was another influential name in the world of blow molds. They are known for their innovative designs, particularly their life-sized figures, which brought a magical touch to many holiday displays. Poloron's attention to detail and realistic painting set their products apart from others.


Collecting Vintage Blow Molds


Collecting blow molds can be a delightful hobby for those interested in vintage Americana. When collecting, pay attention to the condition of the paint, the rarity of the figure, and the working condition of the light fixture inside. Markets, online auctions, and estate sales are great places to find these treasures, and prices can vary widely based on rarity and demand.


For those new to collecting or looking to add to their collection, networking with other collectors can provide valuable insights and leads on where to find the best pieces. Online forums and social media groups dedicated to vintage decorations are also excellent resources.


Conclusion


Blow molds are more than just holiday decorations; they are nostalgic symbols that capture the spirit of celebration and community. As we continue to appreciate and collect these charming figures, they remind us of the joy and brightness that festive seasons bring into our lives.


Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting, the world of vintage blow molds offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and a colorful hobby to brighten your future. Happy collecting!


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