Christmases Past: Artificial Christmas Tree Patents 1911 – 1928

The Quinn family Christmas tree, 2014 edition.

It is that time of the year when we deck the halls, wrap Christmas presents and decorate the tree. Later tonight children all over the world will be nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads. While the children are in a deep sleep Santa Claus will make his yearly visit, coming to a chimney near you via his miniature sleigh lead by eight reindeer, nine if Rudolph comes along for the trip. The Christmas presents will be carefully placed around the tree, which will lead to many memories and “Kodak moments” to be treasured for  years to come.

In years past we have taken time to profile Christmas tree patents, and we return to that theme once again this year. While we get live Christmas trees for outside and then plant them in the spring, for a variety of reasons we opt for an artificial Christmas tree. With that in mind I wondered what kind of patents relating specifically to artificial Christmas trees I could find, and I found plenty. I decided to start with the oldest I could find, so below are a handful of artificial Christmas tree patents from 1911 to 1928. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas everyone!


Artificial christmas tree
U.S. Patent No. 994,248
Issued June 6, 1911

This is the earliest patented artificial Christmas tree we could find, although the patent itself acknowledges that this is an improvement to pre-existing artificial Christmas trees.

The patent explains that the invention provides a trunk upon which twisted wires are connected, which are arranged to simulate the branches of a natural tree. This particular invention is said to be strong, durable, inexpensive and fireproof.

The patent application was filed on February 13, 1911, which means this patent was issued in just under 4 months.


Artificial christmas tree
U.S. Patent No. 1,240,392
Issued September 18, 1917

One of the first things to notice about this patent is that the application was filed on July 11, 1917, and the patent issued less than 10 weeks later. The Patent Office wouldn’t be able to issue a patent that quickly today even if the patent applicant paid for expedited examination.

Another interesting fact about this patent is that it is exactly 2 pages in length. The first page is the drawing sheet and the second page includes both the specification and the 2 patent claims.

A third interesting fact is that back in 1917 a copy of the patent could be obtained from the Patent Office, which was then located in Washington, DC, for a sum of five cents! (see the bottom line on page 2 of the patent).

In any event, this particular patent covers an artificial Christmas tree that presents an ornate appearance, is strong limbed and can be folded for easy transportation or storage.


Artificial christmas tree
U.S. Patent No. 1,577,207
Issued March 16, 1926

This particular artificial Christmas tree is one that the inventor says lends itself to display in store windows, on counters, tables and the like, while still providing an efficient substitute for an ordinary Christmas tree.

The inventor also explains that this particular invention is of National significance because it will put an end to the necessity of cutting down natural trees, which will result in forest preservation.

In essence, this particular device provides a series of shelves that are connected to a post with surrounding ornamentation that creates a shape of a Christmas tree.

Notably, the patent application here was filed on January 29, 1924, which shows a substantially longer patent prosecution than with patents in the same category of invention during the 1910s.


Artificial christmas tree
U.S. Patent No. 1,654,427
Issued December 27, 1927

This artificial Christmas tree is the first I uncovered that could be said to actually look like something that you might see today. The invention relates to what is characterized as a simple, durable construction for an artificial tree, while still having a realistic appearance with a symmetrical and pleasing form.

The inventor explains that the tree is readily collapsible when not in use, which minimizes the required storage space necessary. Thinking ahead, however, the inventor explains that the easy collapsible nature of the tree still guards against accidental collapsing.


Artificial christmas tree
U.S. Patent No. 1,656,148
Issued January 10, 1928

This particular invention is intended to provide an artificial Christmas tree with flexible branches that allow for the device to be collapsed and then returned to the desired position. The tree also includes at least one electric circuit for Christmas tree lights.

The patent application that matured into this issued patent was filed on April 5, 1926, which again shows that the Patent Office had slowed considerably in the time to make a decision compared with only 10 years earlier.



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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Just some guy]
    Just some guy
    December 29, 2014 09:36 am

    Thanks, Gene. For some reason, I especially look forward to these posts, and was disappointed when I thought there was no Christmas post this year.

  • [Avatar for Paul Cole]
    Paul Cole
    December 27, 2014 05:52 am

    Belatedly, a very happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

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