Decorate your home with a goose feather Christmas tree. The old-fashioned German feather trees are still popular today. Yes, it is actually true that the feather tree was the first artificial
Christmas tree and they was originally made in Germany as early as
1845. Like many inventions, the tabletop feather tree came about out
of necessity. By the mid-19th century, decorated Christmas trees were more popular
than ever; however, in Germany deforestation was widespread, especially
during the Christmas holiday season. It had become the fashion to chop off the tip
off a large fir tree to use as a Christmas tree; however, this practice
prevented the tree from growing taller and thus made it useless as a
timber tree. Statutes were enacted to limit people from having more than
one tree, hence protecting the forests. With the introduction of the
"goosefeather" feather tree, this problem was resolved.
Make Victorian Paper Doll Ornaments
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Goose feathers were
plentiful and these feather trees began to be produced as a cottage
industry as the alternative to cutting a live tree. The goose feather
tree became the first artificial Victorian Christmas tree. Metal wire or sticks
were covered with goose, turkey, ostrich or swan feathers. The feather
sticks were drilled into a larger one to resemble the branches on a
tree; the feathers were often died green to imitate pine needles. The
trees were made to resemble the locally growing white pines of the
German forestland, so they had wide spaces between their branches, short
"needles," and composition "berries" on the end of every branch tip.
German Feather Christmas Trees
Meanwhile in America, cut live trees were the cherished way to make the
holiday come alive. When the Germans immigrated to the United
States, they took their beloved portable feather tree with them to use
in their new homes. While it was the German immigrants that
introduced the Victorian feather Christmas tree into the U.S., the practice of using
artificial trees really did not take off in America until Sears Roebuck
first advertised artificial trees for sale in their 1913 catalogs.
Often they had berries and candleholders at the branch-tips and a round
white base. They ranged in size from 55 inches to 17 inches tall.
By the late teens, Japan followed suit and manufactured feather trees
for the U.S. market.
Feather Tree Styles
1920s the feather Christmas tree was gaining in popularity, especially to
European-born Americans continuing to follow their customs. However, by
the mid-1930s the feather tree popularity declined somewhat as the tree farm
industry grew. In an effort to revive the market, Germany began
supplying Montgomery Ward with a wider variety of color choices and
fancier designs on the tree stands. Artificial trees all but disappeared
during WWII. Then after the war, in the 1950s, feather trees were
replaced by artificial Christmas trees made of synthetic substances, like visca
and aluminum. It's no small wonder why feather trees are now a
popular decorating choice for people with period homes.
About Dresden Star Ornaments’ Feather
and I designed our own feather tree because we wanted a tree that would
work better for displaying our hand-made Christmas ornaments than the
feather tree that we had. Antique trees were too flimsy and in
poor shape; new trees were too narrow and did not have the features we
wanted; so we designed a tree that took the best qualities of the old
trees, but with better features to meet the needs of our Dresden Star
have created our very own feather tree design, with all the
wonderful qualities of the antique feather tree, but with more durability
and bigger, sturdier bases. Each tree is handsomely handcrafted by
master feather tree maker, Dennis Bauer, in the traditional German
style. Branches are constructed with thicker diameter wire therefore
able to handle heavy ornaments. Side branches are "staggered" for a
natural look and are soldered to main branches so they stay in place.
Branches are plentiful and bottom branches are wider for a fuller, more
natural look. Delicate authentic composition berries grace every
branch-tip and are hand-rubbed to a rich dark-red. Bases are large and
sturdy, and much less apt to tip. They are constructed in solid wood,
and are hand-painted with a gold accent stripe and antiqued finish. Soft
goose feathers are hand-picked and hand-dyed with variations in color to
look like antique feathers. The feather Christmas trees are 44 inches
tall -- perfect for a parlor table!
Photos courtesy of Dresden Star Ornaments. Visit the Dresden Star Ornaments web site to
see their many handmade Christmas ornaments, feather Christmas trees,
antique and vintage putz for under the tree, antique and vintage
Christmas accessories, antique and vintage tree fences, adjustable brass
ornament stands, Santas and more. Dresden Star Ornaments www.victorianornaments.com