Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Feather Tree

4 foot antique goose feather tree adorned with antique hand blown glass ornaments in the library of My Old Historic House.

    Feather Christmas Trees were first created in Germany in the late 1800's. They are regarded as one of the first type of artificial Christmas Trees. These first trees were. in part, a response to growing environmental concern in the 19th century, concerning deforestation from harvest, of Christmas Trees in Germany.
    The tradition of feather Christmas Trees was brought to the United States by German immigrants.The specific location and creators in Germany are not known. They were a cottage industry along side ,the  hand blown glass tree ornaments. Benefits touted to feather trees included the elimination of a trip to the tree lot, no shedding needles, and not having to replace it each year. These original feather trees are valued by collectors and sometimes bring a big price.
   Feather trees became popular during the late 19th century and early 20th century. These trees were sold at department store, mail order catalogs and country general stores, all over the United States.
    Feather trees were made of green dyed goose feathers. They were stripped of there hard center and wrapped around a wire. The wire wrapped  with feathers ,were then attached to a wood pole, making them resemble a Christmas Tree. The branches were widely spaced to keep candles from starting a fire and to show off the ornaments. Feather trees ranged  widely in size, from a small 2 inch tree to a 8 foot one. Some branches were tipped with a fake red berry or a metal candle holder. Both round and square bases were used as holders. These replicated the buckets that were used for the bases of the live evergreen trees in Germany. The trees came in various colors, white, green, blue and gold. The green, being the most popular.
     These trees were no longer produced after WW!. After the war, Americans started making there own versions of the artificial Christmas tree. All types of materials were  used. In the late 1900's -Christmas reproduction feather trees, started showing up on American Markets. At this time ,American craftsmen were producing real feather trees as well as fake ones.
    Feather trees became very popular in America when President Roosevelt also responded to the supply of fresh evergreens in America.

This is the hand stenciled base.

These trees fold up, and can be stored very easily.

Here it is after I shaped it up.

You can see it holds a lot of ornaments and these are really big ones.

     They were first for sale in Sears Roebuck Catalog in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They were lite weight and folded to about the size of an umbrella, so they were easy to ship. During the first part of 20th century , Sears offered feather trees with electric lights, built in.
   In more recent years, feather trees have achieved a new level of status among Christmas collectors and decorators, both old heirloom and new construction.
    The new feather trees can be found in many stores and on the web today. They range in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. If you would like to buy a new one, do your research and check prices before you buy. They prices can really vary from one seller to the next. Make sure and ask, if they are really feathers and not paper or plastic. If you care for them properly, they should last for  ever. I love the way they show off your ornaments. If you are a big Christmas Ornament collector, a feather tree is a real must.
    Here are some sources for new Feather Trees:
    Dennis Bauer Feather Trees
    Bethany Lowe Designs
    The Feather Tree Company
    Martha Stewart  Catalog
   Christoper Radko
   Old World Christmas

This is a new, 3 foot, reproduction feather tree, that I used in the Moss House that I decorated for Christmas this year

    I have several ,new reproduction, feather trees that I use and have for sale at my shop. I love to sell ornaments from them, as they display so well. I bought mine from The Bethany Lowe  Company, and they are very reasonable. I have two real, old ones ,I use at home. One is 3 foot and the other is 4 foot. I have had  them for years. I think, way back , I paid around $400.00 each. They can be decorated in a few minutes and will hold much bigger ornaments than you think. I love to load them down, with bigger ornaments toward the trunk and medium to small one on  each limb. I think they just look wonderful , in any style or age of a house.
   I sure hope you are getting everything ready for Christmas at your house.If you don't have a feather tree, maybe it will be something you will consider in the next years to come. Watch out for after Christmas sales and you might find one at 1/2 price.  I am ready for Christmas , and waiting at, My Old Historic House. Please come by for a tour anytime. I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will always meet you with a jump and a kiss.
     Have fun decorating.

Sissy Dog helping to decorate the antique feather tree. Put one here, Daddy.

Why would you look at that tree when you can look at me?

Is it done yet?

The library at My Old Historic House with the 1899 feather tree decorated with antique ornaments.

I have a collection of hand blown glass ornaments I use on this tree. Most of them are reflectors, and have a pushed-in side, making them reflect the lights from the room.

I bought this one when I was 14 at the dime store, I think it was  twenty five cents.

This one is a favorite.


This is a 4 foot white tree, I have for sale and use for display, in my shop. Richard's Great Stuff, in Clarksville,Mo.

A reproduction 3 foot, two tone green feather tree in my shop.

A 2 foot dark green feather tree with red berry tips. This is in my shop, it is for sale and I use it for display.

This is an antique small feather tree that I have for sale in my shop. 17 inches tall. So cute.

A four foot pink feather tree. This one is often used for Easter as well. Great for a little girls room.

I love the gold gilt urn this one is in. 4 foot tall, includes the urn,

The Up River or Ladies Parlor at My Old Historic House with an antique feather tree on the center table.

Sissy was worn out from all that decorating , she could't wait to get to bed. 


Sweet Old Vintage said...

a lovely collection of feather trees...they have become extremely popular again... Love love love old indent ornies. there is that most beautiful chandelier again.. It is snowing here and just a beautiful morning as I prepare dishes for tonight gathering with Tom's family... Next is baking pecan crescents again and working in viewing the Ohio State Mens Basketball game on TV... Have a peaceful weekend...

Ceekay- Thinkin of Home said...

Love the feather trees. Your antique one in your home is gorgeous! Merry Christmas!

Vintage Green said...

I am sure your house is amazing at Christmas!!

Curtains in My Tree said...

I love seeing all the feather trees you have
years ago I wanted a Martha Stewart tree so bad

I have one little one about 18 inches tall and have it loaded with old ornaments I am going to get it on my blog this season

So glad you had such a big tour bus load did you say from France? students ? they were in for a treat

I drove to the library today to get the book The Paris Wive, did OK

Sissy sure looked sweet in her pictures in the chair

merry Christmas & Happy New year

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

The feather trees are beautiful, Richard!

Merry Christmas!

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

I adore Sissy dog as well as your feather trees. I wish I lived closer so that I could tour your amazing home.

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

I understand how Sissy feels!
I am in feather tree envy..I only have reproductions for my vintage ornaments. My sister in law has a 6ft blue goose feather tree..amazing

Barbara F. said...

Beautiful feather trees, Richard. I love your ornaments and Nativity figures. I <3 Sissy Dog. xo

Ivy and Elephants said...

Richard all the trees are just beautiful and those ornaments are fabulous. Your home is a perfect place to show them off to perfection!
Thanks for linking, and we hope to see you and Sissy Dog next week, too.
Patti and Paula

Sissysmom said...

I love your feather trees, they are beautiful. I have a small one that was my great grandmothers. I usually put my oldest ornaments on it.

I'm glad Sissy Dog got to take a nap and get rested up before Santa comes to visit her!! Give her a pat on the head from me!


Ellen said...

What a lovely home you have, and the christmas decorations are to die for. I just love your feather trees. Very nice....cute pup also.
Merry Christmas

Pearl said...

Beautiful collection you have Richard, I learned so much about these trees, I had no idea? Always love the history lessons. Your home looks so beautiful for Christmas. Stop by my blog and maybe you can tell me something about my tin wind up girl. Have fun kid! Hugs, Pearl

Shirley said...

The history of the Christmas tree is so interesting. I'm just so happy that I'm a lover of Christmas and all that it holds. I couldnt imagine life without a Christmas are so lucky to have such a beautiful historic should be an Inn!
Merry Christmas...

Heirlooms by Ashton House said...

Wonderfully informative and inspiring post as usual, Richard! I absolutely love your antique feather tree. What a treasure, and it looks amazing decked out in ornaments.

jeanetteann said...

Richard,I so enjoyed the tour today. I have never heard of feather trees before,they are lovely. I especially love the one in your library,the vintage baubles are so lovely,they remind me of the ones we had on our tree when I was a child. Your home is a delight,as is your shop. Wish I lived on your side of the world so I could visit. Lucky for me we blog. Merry Christmas x jeanetteann

Love Of Quilts said...

Poor baby she's worn out...You do up a pretty tree. Merry Christmas Trish

Sherry said...

Great post on feather trees. I love all the sizes and styles you have too. Beautiful antique ornaments as well. Would love to find some of those. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Marianne said...

What a gorgeous collection of vintage ornaments. And I just love all of your feather trees. I've always wanted one of them....the white one is my favorite.
Marianne :)

xinex said...

Your trees are very pretty and I love your ornaments too...Christine

bj said...

I love these beautiful trees. The vintage ornaments are so pretty.
Merry Christmas!

mississippi artist said...

I love all your feather trees, but what I really want is the ornaments and Sissy! She is an adorable helper! Your up river parlor is just beautiful!

jeanne said...

Richard, I haven't visited in a while but today's visit was a good one not to miss. I too love the vintage feather trees and the beautiful vintage ornaments you shared today. The history lesson was great as well.
I love your lovely home and Sissy too.
Christmas blessings to you and yours.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hello Richard, I love visiting your home wish I could see it in person. I love your little feather tree dripping with vintage glass ornaments. Reminds me of my Mother,s tree when I was a kid. Too bad all those glass ornaments got broken or just worn out. She had a few lovely ones that were wrapped in tiny glass strings of beads. Amazing. One year the cat climbed the tree and brought it to the floor and many got broken.
It looks like you have two parlors, am I correct? That means you have two of those beautiful chandys with the lovely glass globes. They are so beautiful.

What fun that you had your nieces over to help with the decorations. They are so lovely sitting by the tree.

I wish you a Happy Holiday and give Sissy a kiss for me.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

Shelia said...

Hi Richard! Oh, I love your feather trees and those olden ornaments too! I have a white feather tree but didn't bring it out this year. I have some similar ornaments but they're not olden! Your old historic house is so pretty!
Merry Christmas to you and little Sissy,
Shelia ;)

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi Richard...

Well my friend, you have a wonderful collection of feather trees! I love the antique feather tree and the vintage ornaments that you have in the library. It's perfect for your "Old Historic House"! Thank you for sharing all the beautiful Christmas at your place! And...thank you for the history of feather trees. I really didn't know anything about them...very interesting!

So glad that you stopped by my place for a visit today! Warmest wishes to you and Sissie girl for a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Chari @Happy To Design

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Your feather trees are lovely, Richard! Looks like Sissy dog was a big help! Also have to say that I loved your post on croquembouche...a favorite of mine! Merry Christmas!...hugs...Debbie

Susan said...

I love all your Christmas decorations. I especially love the little guy in the chair, under Abe's picture!! He looks like a sweetie!

A Few Pennies said...

Lovely! What a beautiful collection; to be able to go from room to room and see such pretty-ness (I think that's a word)--anyway; have a wonderful Christmas is your history-rich home!


Great feather trees my friend and the ornies are stunning, each one, my goodness, I just love them all!
I'm loving that chandy, it's glorious...aleluyah! Sissy dog is just as cute as an orny! Wishing you the merriest of Christmas.

Alison @ The Polohouse said...

Loving that regal throne Queen Sissy is perched upon, Richard! I LOVE that chair!

Your feather trees are amazing. I do not have one but love their sweet simplicity and how they turn the attention onto the ornaments.

Thanks for the history and for the current purchase resource list!
Merry merry.

I am off for the next couple weeks so I will be around and catching up with all of you!

It's Just Dottie said...

Oh Richard!! Your pictures are just devine. They made me swoon( as my grandmother used to say.)
I was thrilled to know that someone else beside Winnie the Pooh and I love the wind and call it a friend.

cathy@my1929charmer said...

Your home is so lovely and in beautiful holiday cheer. Gorgeous. thanks so much for stopping by and following me, I return the gift and followed you back. Very nice site.

Jan said...

Thanks so much for dropping by for a visit and leaving a comment today. Your home is grand and Sissy looks sweet. Happy Holidays and please come again soon.

Deanna said...

Dear Richard,
It is always a treat for me to visit your Historic House. Your home looks lovely with all that you have done. Lovely.

Richard, I really like the feather trees. I don't have any, but sure admire them. Your ornaments are gorgeous.

The ornament that you bought when you were 14 must be very special to you. How neat that you have things from your youth. Makes them even more special.

I hope to get some pictures downloaded from a Christmas exhibit I went to in Alma, Kansas. Sally, the Antique Dealer made a display of Christmases from the last 150 years and opened it up to the public. I sure enjoyed my time in what I call the Christmas House.

May you have a sweet and wonderful Christmas and a very Blessed new year.

God bless and wish you well,

~~Carol~~ said...

I've loved feather trees for a long time, but certainly couldn't afford one. So glad that they're making repros now, so that everyone can have one! LOVE your collection of indent ornaments!
Merry Christmas and Happy REDnesday!

My Cottage Charm said... really do love the old ornaments like I do! lol I have a reproduction feather tree, with a bunch of my treasured ornaments on it..I just love it! :) Glad we have the same affinity for bottle brush trees and old ornametns..someone has to keep this old stuff around to be loved!
My Cottage Charm

Gina said...

Your feather trees are lovely! I've often thought of buying one, but have yet to take the plunge. They really do showcase the ornaments beautifully. Thanks for sharing the history as well.

AshTreeCottage said...

Hi Richard and Sissy! Thank you for coming to visit me. You may have been making little wing chairs, but when I was young I was removing the wheels off my baby stroller to use to create a go~cart. I think that the creative spark has been alive and flourishing in us both for years. Love those feather trees and Sissy is adorable. Give her a big kiss from me!

Susan and Benrley

Tallulah's Antique Closet said...

Hi Richard, Julst luv the antique feather tree in your home. I have been searching for one for a pretty good price but I just might have to opt out for a reproduction one for my collection of German die cut ornaments. Thanks for sharing your tree with Ray and I have a good rest of the week and a Happy Christmas...Julian

Dreamgoddess said...

Richard, your trees are so beautiful! I love the antique ornaments and was that a collection of Santas around the one in the Up River Parlor?

Wishing for you and Sissy a wonderful Christmas!

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Hi Richard, I love your feather trees, thanks for letting us know where we can get them.. love, love, love the vintage ornaments,I'm still drooling..
Happy Holidays to you and Miss Sissy! hugs ~lynne~

Southern Lady said...

I love your antique feather tree, Richard, and your exquisite ornaments are absolutely perfect for it!

Best wishes to you for a Christmas as beautiful as your home.

Cindy said...

What a great tree and I love the vintage ornaments! Your dog is adorable as well. Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking time to comment.
Merry Christmas,

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Richard, Your home is beautifully decorated for Christmas! I love the feather trees and the blown ornaments are fabulous. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

Oh my dearest Richard..I really loved this post..I tell you I could do some real damage to my credit card at your shop..WOW!! that bust I see just stole my heart as everything you own does..I wish you nothing but the very best CHRISTmas and greatest New Year my dear friend I'm so glad to have become of of your many fans..Give Ms. Sissy some fur love from me..Love ya Richard..Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

Anonymous said...

I've always loved reflector ornaments, ever since childhood.

Does Sissy get jealous when you "pet" the tree? My first Scottie always pouted during the decorating.

Thanks for sharing the picture of your Up River parlor. It looks stunning!

Merry Christmas,

Eclectically Vintage said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my feather trees!

Wow! Your feather trees are amazing! The real and the repros. Love those shiny brites too. Lucky you to have found so many great ones (love the white one).

Butterbean Row said...


what a fabulous collection you have of the feather trees! I had never heard of them. And some were pre-lit!

Merry Christmas!


LDH said...


Stopping by for the first time. What a beautiful and informative post! I have learned so much reading here. Your photos are beautiful as are the vignettes you have shared.

So nice visiting with you!
Kindly, Lorraine


How are you Richard, haven't heard from you lately, been busy? What are you and Sissy dog going to do for the holidays? Wishing you a wonderful Christmas my friend and lots of hugs to you and Sissy dog.

Honey at 2805 said...

Your home is so pretty and festive!

Thank you for sharing at Potpourri Friday! Have a very Merry Christmas and wonderful Holiday Season!

Ivy and Elephants said...

Richard I am loving your feather trees. I will most certainly have my eye out for one. I love the history behind the tree that you gave. I hope that you would share this amazing post on our What's It Wednesday linky party for this week. Merry Christmas my dear and thanks for the inspiration!


The Dusty Victorian said...

Hi Richard,
Just a few words to thank you for all the wealth of information you so generously give out. I think your gorgeous house is a true reflection of who you are. You and Sissy are so gracious and welcoming. Wishing the best for the holidays and for the coming new year.

Chris said...

Hi Richard, your blog is beautiful, filled with gorgeous Christmas trees from a time gone by, plus I love your dog. Thanks for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

Anna at the Doll House said...

Your house is just made for Christmas, Richard and it looks spectacular.

Best wishes and Happy Holidays


Sherri Farley said...

Just beautiful......the photo of Sissy is charming!!

Suzy said...

Very interesting! Your feather tree and ornaments are to die for. Merry Christmas!

lvroftiques said...

Love the antique feather tree and all the lovely ornaments! I've been searching for the right one for years and have yet to find one for a price I can afford *winks* Vanna

Brigitte said...

About 20 years ago a friend and myself we ordered darkgreen feathers to make our own feather tree.We never had a chance to complete them so feathers are packed away somewhere . So I am also a lover of feather tree's even though I have no old ones.The ones I have found were pretty expensive but I keep on looking.
However I have had over 350 antique and vintage ornaments on our tabletop tree this past Christmas 2011.
The reason I know how many is that I play parlor games with the older grandchildren and they have to guess how many are on a tree.Whoever is closest gets a price.The same with my Dept.56 Dicken's village and Christmas in the City,also Dept.56.
In the past I have had gilded walnuts in a bowl.Each one had money in it,only ONE with a larger currency.
It is so much fun to watch when they pick the walnut of their joice they trying to look right thru the shell.
It keeps them happy and adds exitement each year.

Brigitte said...

Hi again,
I would like to share a little Christmas story of mine.We cut our tree each year and put it up around the 20th of they'll look fresh on Christmas.
This past Christmas we had planned to have 2 ,one each in a bay window.
However my husband ended up in the hospital during the holidays so I didn't have enough time to decorate both.
Realized this a couple of days before Christmas,so I put the 7 1/2ft.tree on our curb with a FREE sign on it.Within one hour a elderly lady stopped and struggled to get the tree into her van.When I saw this I called our son who was at the house at this time.Christian ( his name )beeing who he is immediately run outside to assist her.He ended up getting rope from the carriage house to tie the tree on top of her van.
Found out that that was the first year she and her husband couldn't afford a real tree.It still brings a smile to my face when I think back.A simple "Thank You" would have been enough but she had tears in her eyes.She was so appreciative ,words can not describe it.
It always will be a fond memory of mine,

david giles said...

I enjoyed looking at your various feather trees and was wondering if you have ran across any "good" instructions on their constructions? I have found several "how to"s on the internet but all are lacking. I am very interested in making feather trees, not as a business but as a hobby (another one). My main hobby has been making and designing Christmas ornaments and the feather tree would mesh very well. Although I have just started my blog, you can view some of my ornaments through my blog: Ornaments Galore ( I have made over 200 variations of ornaments and well be posting them a couple times a week until I have most of them posted.