Retro and Antique Trees Excite Collectors

This vintage ceramic Christmas tree was purchased at our local St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and it still lights up but lacks its star.

By now, I hope everyone has their Christmas tree up. I bought mine a few weeks back and it’s been in place in the dining room, lit and decorated. I enjoy the Frazier fur tradition and the smell of pine so a real tree is my choice.

It’s surprising the variety of trees available now. Though I heard that there was a bit of a shortage of fresh cut trees, it hasn’t seemed a problem locally for those I know buying one.

Artificial trees remain popular and include all sizes and colors, pre-lit or not. Even the 1960-look of aluminum is available in vintage versions or reproductions, complete with the light wheel that rotates to change the color of the tree.

Perhaps most surprising to me, is the fact that the 1970 fad of ceramic trees is popular again with families and individuals. There are so many reproductions of this small style of tabletop tree now, in all colors, that you can find ceramic trees on Amazon, the Vermont Country Store and at many retail shops.

But if you want the real deal, go vintage and visit our own antique shops like the ones found in Centre Market or our fine thrift stores.

Everything old sparkles like new on a Christmas tree and it offers the perfect spot to share vintage and collectible ornaments.

Another old style of tree that is popular again is the feather tree. This Victorian style tree, include the original 19th century German-made versions and 20th centuryAmerican-made imitations that were sold through Sears catalog. Japan also produced feather trees for the American market in the early 20th century.

Tabletop Christmas trees first became stylish during the Victorian age as a German cottage industry developed and produced quality trees that featured lightweight and plentiful feathers for pine needles.

These trees are generally three to four feet tall and are constructed from wires, wrapped with green dyed goose, turkey or swan feathers. Many have red composition berries on the branches and some have candleholders.

The branches are bendable but styled very straight, and the trunks of these trees are usually wrapped in brown tissue paper. Most often the tree trunks stand upright in painted wooden boxes, trimmed with poinsettia and holly designs. Other models sport painted cast iron stands.

Considered the first artificial Christmas tree, Victorian feather trees and other tabletop versions are easy to display no matter how limited your space. They became less popular in the mid-20th century as large real trees became the common choice and artificial trees turned to modern looks like aluminum and realistic floor models.

Who doesn’t love the Christmas tree tradition? Whether big or small, real or artificial, antique or new, the magic of a lit-up tree at this dark time of year adds joy to a home.

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at zambitomaureen@hotmail.com or by writing in care of the Sunday News-Register, 1500 Main St., Wheeling, WV 26003.


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