A German Lady Invents the Beaded Christmas Tree: 1848-1908

A modern miniature beaded Christmas tree from a course taught by Buttercup Beads. http://www.buttercupbeads.com/holidayclassprojects.html

A delightful modern miniature beaded Christmas tree from a course taught by Buttercup Beads. http://www.buttercupbeads.com/holidayclassprojects.html

One cannot imagine the bustle at the Hall as Mrs Daffodil supervises the trimming of the Hall Christmas tree. The man who takes care of the electrical apparatus was down with la grippe. Then something went wrong with the flex for the lighted Christmas fairy and a star had to be substituted. It is not a bad star in its own way, but Mrs Daffodil feels that the holidays are no time to tamper with tradition. Then the hampers of ornaments, packed in raffia and cotton wool must all be unpacked by the more careful-handed staff. The Master likes his tree as richly encrusted as the bejewelled corsages of her Ladyship, so it is all no end of trouble. Mrs Daffodil will feel relieved when the last strand of tinsel is artistically placed and she can retire to her rooms with a nice cup of cocoa. One endeavours to give satisfaction, but sometimes one longs for Christmas on a smaller scale. The (alas, unnamed) lady inventor below is an inspiration.


Novelty Invented by German Woman Approved by Kaiser.

If nature’s supply of Christmas trees gives out, as some people have feared it might, there will still be Christmas trees as long as a German woman in this city remains alive. Out of green beads, wire and tiny waxen ornaments she constructs miniatures trees which have been thought pretty enough to grace the court of Ludwig of Bavaria in his time and to amuse the children of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. That was when the inventor was living in her native country. Since coming to America she has made them for various well known people

One of the advantages of these trees, she says, is that they are almost indestructible. They may be bent, crushed, packed into small compass, and when they are wanted again it is only necessary to straighten the branches out into the original shape.

When the inventor was a girl, fifty-five or sixty years ago, in Munich, she went to one of those schools where German girls are taught to do, as her daughter says, “everything mit the hands.” It was having to make wreaths out of beads [One suspects that these were the beaded memorial wreaths such as those which still adorn European cemeteries today.] that suggested to her the notion of making bead Christmas trees. She set to work and fashioned innumerable tiny loops of green beads, each at the end of a long slender wire. She bound the loops together in threes, making trefoils, and the trefoils into branches and the branches into a tapering trunk, the trunk being formed of nothing at all but the individual wires massed together. Then she trimmed the tree with candles and those tiny waxen figures which the Germans are adepts at making and fixed it in a pot of sand and melted wax. Her parents were quite proud of it. Her father, who was director of the Hofgarten in Munich, showed it to his royal master, and King Ludwig immediately ordered one for the Christmas festivities at court.

After coming to this country she sent one to President Roosevelt and was grieved and surprised to find that he could not accept it.

“I expect he thinks he gets some dynamite,” said the daughter. New York Tribune.

Little Falls [MN] Herald 11 December 1908: p. 15

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Ludwig of Bavaria mentioned was King Ludwig I [1786-1868], who was deposed in 1848, in part because of his relationship with the notorious Lola Montez. He was the grandfather of the equally notorious Ludwig II, “The Swan King.” The Kaiser, of course, needs no introduction.  President Theodore Roosevelt would probably have been charmed to accept the beaded tree, but strikes, anarchists’ campaigns, and the assassination of President McKinley, in 1901, elevating Mr Roosevelt to the Presidency, had led to heightened security at the White House. 

The illustration preceding the article shows a similar type of miniature beaded tree, which is still popular today.  Mrs Daffodil thinks that they sound delightful, especially if kept under a glass bell to eliminate the need for dusting. They also make a nice change from the Hall’s usual tree where the staff are kept picking pine needles out of the Axminster for months after the holidays.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a garland of fashion hints, fads and fancies, vintage methods of decorating for the holidays, and historical anecdotes.


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