Vintage German Christmas Tree Candle Clips

Before electricity made its way into most homes, Christmas trees had the warm glow of candlelight. The candles were attached to the tree branches via little metal clips. Most often they were decorative clips made in Germany, like these shown here.  Since using candles to light your tree is neither practical, nor safe, we don’t recommend bringing back that tradition lightly. (No pun intended!) But that doesn’t mean you can’t safely use these charming bits of Christmas past this holiday. They make wonderful placeholders, with or without candles, at your holiday table.

antique german tree clips as placecard holders

More than that, these vintage and antique Christmas tree clips can be used to display your holiday greeting cards (collectible ephemera and the new ones you receive from family & friends this year), photographs, etc. (As always, I would recommend sliding old or collectible paper in clear sleeves to protect them from the elements.)

christmas tree candle clips display cards

This sort of display would work well on holiday trim around doorways, etc.,; not just on trees.

display vintage ephemera with vintage christmas tree candle clips

In fact, since the designs on these old tree clips vary widely, including non-holiday motifs, like pine-cones, you could use them year round. For example, instead of clothespins on those framed bits of chicken-wire and other rustic ways to show-off photographs.

While I obviously prefer “old” pieces, if you prefer something more industrial (or at least not so shabby chic), there are contemporary clips as well. Whether you opt for old or new, whether you want to light the candles or not, the fact that they still make these tree candle clips means they still make the right size candles too.

Pick & Grin Is This Our Last REAL Christmas Tree?

Pick: Did you ever notice that everyone is happy and smiling putting up the tree before the Christmas holiday, humming Christmas carols the whole time, but taking it down is another matter?

Grin: Whatever do you mean dear?

Pick: Well, here I stand on a ladder taking down the ornaments, while you yell out the NFL Playoff Game Schedule from your chair.

Grin: OK, OK, I’ll get to work with you.

Pick: Thanks, hon. By the way, do you think this should be our last year with a real tree? All of our friends have the artificial trees with lights and ornaments still on from last year. They simply pull it out of the attic, tweak the lights and add a few ornament that might have fallen off. And they are done! We, on the other hand, have box after box of ornaments and strings of lights that need to be taken out and arranged on the tree.

Grin: Well, then there is the shopping for the tree. We have come a long way toward doing a better job of that. When the girls were young, we’d go a week before Christmas in the cold, snow and windy weather. There was one year we all sat in the car and simply yelled to the tree attendant – Yes, that’s the one! And he loaded it onto the top of the car. Not until we got home did we notice how crooked it was and how one side was virtually bald! At least we now go earlier and try to choose a dry, not-so-cold day!

Pick: Ah, that does bring back memories of our ‘lesser trees.’ Remember the year we had to wire it to the window sill so it would not tip over. I think that was the year my brother teased us mercilessly about it!

Grin: I also remember your brother’s delight when we put the tree out front. Remember, it was actually just the trunk and four or five branches remaining from our wreath project. We set it out by the door with two ornaments on it – sort of like Charlie Brown’s little tree! He howled over that one!

Pick: Well, you must admit, this was the finest, fullest tree we’ve ever found. Everyone who viewed it exclaimed about it being so lovely and ’round.’

Grin: Are you sure they weren’t talking about me after all the holiday treats – ha!

Pick: Very funny. But back to the tree. It does smell good in the house. I recall a friend’s son in law running over to her artificial tree and exclaiming “Gee, it smells like dust!” I don’t think I want that experience.

Grin: I agree with the great pine scent, but that comes from the millions of needles! Check out the extra scent-makers on our floor. They will make a long trail out onto the porch, down the sidewalk, down the driveway and to the curb where it will rest for a week or so until the city picks it up. We’ll be vacuuming needles until at least Easter!

Pick: Well, both of our daughters still get the real thing. They are creating fun memories (and laughs) with their kids when they get a ‘loser tree.’

Grin: But think how nice it would be to just go up to the attic and drag the completed tree down, lights, ornaments and all. No boxes!

Pick: Well, that’s not true, I would still pack up the ‘special ornaments’, and tree-top angel (that’s my mother’s) just to keep them secure.

Grin: So let me get this straight. You still like the smell of the tree, we would not gain any room in the attic because a tree takes up a lot of space and there’d still be lots of boxfuls of ornaments, plus you like the memories of a real tree, right?

Pick: Well, once again you have convinced me that a real tree is the way to go. We don’t have to make a decision right now, we can wait until next year, about a week before Christmas.

Grin: Well, here we go again. Let’s get back to work, only 11 more boxes to pack up!


Vintage Lucite Tray & Luggage Rack, Forerunner Of The TV Tray

A vintage advertorial announcing “what’s new” to ladies who read Modern Woman magazine (volume 17 number 1, 1948). In this case, “what’s new” was a Lucite tea tray and luggage rack. Since the photo was courtesy of DuPont, I assume it was a DuPont piece.

Tea for two — on a distinctive “Lucite” table, combining an attractive Chippendale-style tray and luggage rack of the crystal-clear plastic. The light-weight tray is easily removed for carrying dishes. The decorative, sturdy luggage rack folds away for convenient storage, and has gold-color tapes across the top, woven in a leaf pattern.

It sure sounds like what we call a TV tray today.

Pick & Grin – Christmas Memories – Time to Tear Down the Tree

Pick: I suppose it is time. Time to take down the tree, put all the ornaments in their boxes, until next year. We are the only ones in our ‘group’ who have a live tree. When the kids were small, we’d work on putting it up for a few days. You’d do the lights, the girls would put the ‘unbreakables’ near the bottom and I’d do the top part.

Grin: I remember a few of the early years when our trees were SO crooked that we’d have to wire them to the window hardware. Otherwise, they’d tip over. We got numerous comments , none of them good.

Pick: We have talked about getting an artificial tree, but then you mentioned the ‘limited space’ in our attic. And I truly love the smell of a real tree. A friend has an artificial one and her son-in-law always walks up to it, takes a good sniff and retorts “Ahh, the smell of dust!” I don’t want that from my son-in-laws. (Not that either would be so crass – ha!)

Grin: And then there is the concern of the ornaments. The ones from your grandmother, for example. If you left them on the tree, you would worry until next year if one would be broken when moved around. So, since we have to take it all down and wrap them, we’ll keep the live tree. But is there any way we can eliminate some of those ornaments?

Pick: Each time I pack and unpack I have fond memories. I remember putting that exact angel on our tree-top at home. She has withstood the test of time. And the bird with the tail-feathers, why, that was my grandmother’s and there is precious little from her.

Grin: That is understandable – you’ll always want to keep that one. But what about these poorly-painted ceramic ornaments.? They are a bit tacky on your classy tree. And we have so many to pack away.

Pick: But don’t you remember these? We made them with the kids when they were about 8 or 9 years old! They are very special to me.

Grin: OK then, but these plastic ones can go. They are out of date and very cheap too!

Pick: Now wait a minute – those are the bottom-of-the-tree ornaments. Nicholas, our youngest grandson can still come over and touch things. You know how I want to be a ‘fun grandma.’ And then if our Westie knocks one off when he strolls past, who cares? You need the lesser ones near the bottom.

Grin: Sounds like you have rationale for every one on this tree. But then, I am not surprised. It is the same with your year-round decorations. Everything has a special memory, or makes you smile to recall where you found it or who gave it to you. Someday, the house will just sink slowly into the ground.

Pick: You exaggerate – there is still room in the basement for a few things and the attic has a bit of room.

Grin: Dear, if you started collecting toothpicks, we’d be in trouble. But let’s get back to the tree.

Pick: It will look so darn empty in this room when it is gone. Can you put up an Easter Tree?

Merry Martha Sleeper Jewelry & Fashions

At first I was going to post this photo of Clara Bow posing by a Christmas tree because of the fabulous decorations and stuffed toys; but once I saw this photo of Martha Sleeper I was equally smitten!

Martha Sleeper was a silent film star in the 1920s and, in the 1940s, a Broadway actress. But collectors may know her best as a jewelry designer.

Her whimsical designs in Bakelite, wood and metal were mass-produced by the New England Novelty Company. (Decades later, in the 1970s, Andy Warhol would find and adore her creations, amassing one the largest collections and resurrecting the demand for vintage Bakelite jewelry in general.)

These are snippets on Sleeper’s jewelery from a beauty and fashion column published in the Mansfield News Journal on April 17, 1940:

An ad for Martha Sleeper’s jewelry found in the Racine Journal Times November 10, 1939 — only $1!

Another ad, with an image, of Sleeper jewelry designs; The Salt Lake Tribune, October 10, 1941:

In 1949, Sleeper and her husband sailed on a 40-foot schooner from from New York for a vacation in the Virgin Islands, but when she reached Puerto Rico she fell in love with the island — and stayed. By 1950, Sleeper had given up making jewlery (“too tedious”) for making fashions and had opened “Martha Sleeper Creates,” a boutique at 101 Fortaleza St. in Old San Juan.

The shop began “with two dozen hand-made skirts and three dozen blouses  and filled up the gaps in the place with plants. People thought I had a florist shop and for the first year, I couldn’t sell anything but greens .” (Quotes from Cumberland Evening Times, May 27, 1955; below.)

By 1955, her fashions, and accessories such as purses etc., were exported to other islands and the mainland.  Below is an article from Billings Gazette, July 1, 1964, on Martha Sleeper’s lace fashions:

By 1964, Sleeper is said to have also opened a shop in Palm Beach, Florida.

Image Credits:

Vintage Martha Sleeper birds on twig pin from Decotini.

Vintage Martha Sleeper matchsticks necklace and bracelet set via ModBag.

Pair of vintage Bakelite cat pins by Martha Sleeper via halsll.

Black Martha Sleeper Creates label via Vintage Fashion Guild Forums.

White Martha Sleeper Creates For You label from Bonnie & Clyde’s Treasure Trove Vintage.

Christmas is in the Pink

Pink is in for Christmas the past couple of years. Did you know pink for Christmas isn’t a new idea? The first aluminum tree came out in 1958. Since then metallic trees had their time of being popular. I remember seeing them in shiny green, red, silver, white, blue and pink.

I think the new trend to have pink trees comes in part from the warmer weather we have been having at Christmas, also all the people who travel to warmer destinations over the winter, including the Canadian Snowbirds in Florida. They bring the ideas of summer into the Christmas season.

I’ve seen pink flamingos, orange and pink poinsettias and shiny neon pink snowflakes decorating the Christmas trees in stores here. They are very pretty, romantic looking, a change from the traditional red and green.

There are a few places selling the vintage aluminum trees:

Aluminum Christmas Trees

Retro Holiday

Traditions Year Round Holiday Store

Yuletide Expressions (New trees like the vintage silver trees).

Other Resources:

Flickr: Aluminum Christmas Trees

Suite101: Collectible Vintage Aluminum Christmas Trees

ATOM – Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum

Wikipedia: Aluminum Christmas Tree

CBC Digital Archives: Aluminum Christmas Trees come to Canada (1960)

Where is Your Christmas Tree Going?

This photo is from SmileyGeekGirl on Flickr.
This photo is from SmileyGeekGirl on Flickr.

One of my favourite Christmas things is the tree, all lit up and decorated. The ornaments are a blend of special treasures I bought over the years, vintage ornaments passed down in my family for a generation or three and the real prizes are those ornaments we made ourselves, mostly from some felt, lace and embroidery thread. When it’s in prime Christmas mode the tree is glorious.

That’s why seeing a Christmas tree discarded somewhere, left to become a weathered mess, is so sad. How could some poor tree be plucked from it’s roots, given a grand celebration and then thrown out – treated with less care than the wrapping paper which was once under it.

Why do people do this to the trees? In these days of living green and caring for the planet, when we recycle and reuse and refurbish… why toss out a whole tree this way?

These are photos you can see of abandoned trees in Flickr groups. Maybe between now and the end of the year you will see an abandoned Christmas tree yourself. If you can drag it somewhere it has a chance to be recycled, I hope you will.

Thank you to Smiley Geek Girl for the photo of the lonely tree.

Christmas Trees Have Never Been My Favorite Things

merry-christmas-unhappy-children-circa-1910This antique photo of a Christmas tree surrounded by little boys who seem less than thrilled suits me because Christmas trees have never been my favorite things. Primarily because it was our family custom for my father to get the itch to go Christmas tree shopping on the coldest, nastiest day of the year — and my mother, ever-interested in presenting a united parental front, agreed.

So there, in the frozen Christmas tree lot, wind freeze-drying our eyeballs, or feet and hands so cold we nearly prayed they’d get frostbite so they’d actually go numb, my sister and I stood, agreeing with any tree selected to hurry this thing up.

Only it never did.

My parents took their time looking over every tree in the lot. They called it “being selective.” But my sister and I begged to differ (and to go home) as our family’s other Christmas tree tradition was to bring home a tree with severe scoliosis — and a bad side dad would have to hide in the living room corner.

Once our tree was selected it was time to get it home, into the house, and set up. Parental bickering was involved, of course, as mom questioned dad’s desire to break all her holiday knick knacks and he in return wondered why she didn’t understand his simple directions of how to hold the tree while he sawed off branches and fit the trunk into the tree stand.

Then real fun was supposed to begin. But let me tell you, dripping noses and frozen fingers prohibit you from enjoying decorating the tree.

It’s no wonder I wished Christmas trees arrived by Santa’s sleigh too.

antique-photo-children-horse-sled-with-christmas-treeWhen I hit my 20’s, I actually had a beautiful tree selecting experience. My then-boyfriend took me out on the family property — complete with horse in tow — to cut down our own very own little Christmas tree for our apartment.

I giggled with joy over such a charming and comparatively discomfort-free holiday tree selection. On the way back to the car, holding hands with my boyfriend who led the horse, tree trailing behind him, a gentle snow fell to complete the Normal Rockwell imagery and my insides warmed with the romance of it all.

Too bad that relationship ended with more pain and tears than the cumulative hours spent Christmas tree shopping with my folks did.

Since then, I’ve had children. And a divorce. Then a new marriage — with a new daughter. All situations which affect Christmas trees and my affection for them.

Marriages bring debates over conflicting traditions, such as Real Trees Vs. Artificial Ones, just where the tree should be placed, when and how to trim the tree — including whether or not tinsel can be used.

Children bring ornaments. By the truckload. Each child has multiple Baby’s First Year ornaments, packed in layers of tissues with of all the ornaments they’ve made through the years.

My husband, ever the packrat, has all his old childhood ornaments, set aside and saved for him all these years by his loving mother.

presents-on-christmas-tree-dated-1896Which means every year my Christmas tree looks more like the cliched family art gallery refrigerator than the holiday tree of my dreams.

Among the complications of a blended family like ours at holiday time, are the sheer number of ornaments. Since we both were single parents for a number of years, we each had more than enough ornaments for one tree — and now they’re combined. The only preferential treatment my fancy themed ornaments get is to remain safely tucked into their boxes, saved for that future One Day.

You know, that one day when my children are older and I give them the boxes of their ornaments I livingly saved for them… Then I can have a fancy designer styled tree.

Only thing is, I’ll probably miss my cluttered Christmas tree, that literal mess of memories, and the stories each ornament had.

No, Christmas trees have never been my favorite things; but they do contain memories and they are decorated in stories.

Vintage Christmas photos via The Antique Christmas Lights Museum.