A History Of The Reed & Barton Cross
A Look At The Reed & Barton Cross
For 49 years, people have anticipated the newest edition of the Reed & Barton Christmas Cross. There is more to their enthusiasm than the satisfaction of adding to their collections.
Like traditional holiday recipes or gift-giving rituals, the reappearance of treasured ornaments cheers the soul. Unwrapping them and taking careful inventory brings to mind the stories attached to them, especially when they’ve been passed down for generations. Arranging them on Christmas trees, mantels, wreaths or gift boxes is one of the year’s most pleasant pastimes.
The First Ornaments
Germans of the 16th century get credit for innovating decorated Christmas trees as we know them today, and it is believed that Protestant reformer Martin Luther was the first to light one with candles.
Christmas trees gained popularity in America in the late 1800s. The first ornaments were baked goods or homemade trinkets, but German immigrants began making reusable decorations. The practice quickly caught on. With the advent of Christmas tree lights in 1880, ornament makers started to use materials that reflected their twinkle.
Silver ornaments became an especially popular choice in the 1970s. Silver’s durability makes it ideal for years of decorating, and its reflective luster is enhanced by the deep green boughs and glowing lights of a Christmas tree.
The History of Reed & Barton
Reed & Barton has been known for outstanding design and workmanship since 1824. In its illustrious history, the company has produced sterling silver flatware, trays, goblets, napkin rings, serving bowls, tea sets, urns and a host of other quality pieces.
The company manufactured weapons during the Civil War. Just before World War II, the U.S. Navy commissioned 87 Reed & Barton pieces for the USS Arizona. Fearing war in the Pacific, Navy officials removed the set before the ship’s fateful tour of duty at Pearl Harbor. The exquisite items, now on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum, bear elaborately carved illustrations celebrating the history and natural features of the 48th state.
Reed & Barton produced 2,600 competitive medals for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and it redesigned the Davis Cup for tennis in 1998.
The company is so protective of its time-honored traditions and stellar reputation that officials were reluctant to launch a website. They finally did so in 1999, Reed & Barton’s 175th anniversary.
The Reed & Barton Christmas Cross
The first edition premiered in 1971. Each year’s cross is unique, but the basic design was inspired by Romanesque latticework inside Winchester Cathedral in England. The crosses vary between the familiar Latin type and the Greek version, which is styled with four arms of the same length.
Some editions have budded tips, intricate cutouts or other embellishments. The understated elegance of simpler designs is equally lovely. The shine and clarity of the silver coupled with the graceful carvings make these very special pieces. Retailers typically sell out in early December.
This year’s crosses are in the Greek style. They are approximately 3 inches in length and width, and they weigh a little more than an ounce. Each comes with a hinged, velvet-lined box, a protective pouch and a red ribbon for hanging. The year and company name are embossed on the back, and custom engraving can be added.