Feather Christmas tree

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A replica of a 19th-century feather tree, the branches are tinted light green

A feather Christmas tree is a type of artificial Christmas tree that is generally considered one of the first artificial trees used as a Christmas tree. They originated in Germany in the late 19th century and became popular in the United States during the early 20th century.

History[edit]

Feather Christmas trees were first created in Germany in the 1880s[1][2] or 1890s[3] and are regarded as one of the first types of artificial Christmas trees.[2][4] These first artificial trees were, in part, a response to growing environmental concerns in the late 19th century concerning deforestation associated with the harvest of Christmas trees in Germany.[2] The tradition of feather Christmas trees was brought to the United States by German immigrants in places such as Pennsylvania and Texas.[1][4]

Feather Christmas trees became popular during the early 20th century,[2] and were sold by department stores in the United States.[4] Benefits touted for feather trees included the elimination of a trip to the tree lot and the lack of shed needles.[3] Today, feather Christmas trees are valued as a collectible antique.[4] One 36 inch German tree sold at auction in 2008 for $230.[5]

Design[edit]

An antique feather Christmas tree, note the central dowel

Feather trees were initially made of green-dyed goose feathers which were attached to wire branches.[3] The feathers were split and then secured with wire to form the branches.[1] These wire branches were then wrapped around a central dowel which acted as the trunk.[3] The branches were widely spaced to keep the candles from starting a fire, which allowed ample space for ornamentation.[3] Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small 2 inch tree to a large 98 inch tree sold in department stores during the 1920s.[4] Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candle holders.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Leiser, Amy. "The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree", Monroe County Historical Association, December 2005, accessed March 28, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d John, J. A Christmas Compendium, (Google Books), Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, p. 129, (ISBN 0826487491).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Marling, Karal Ann. Merry Christmas!: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday, (Google Books), Harvard University Press, 2000, pp. 58–62, (ISBN 0674003187).
  4. ^ a b c d e Silverthorne, Elizabeth. Christmas in Texas, (Google Books), Texas A&M University Press, 1994, p. 62, (ISBN 0890965781).
  5. ^ Wiggins, Pamela. "Feather Christmas Tree", about.com, accessed March 28, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]