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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Wide Christmas: 1920

Wide Christmas: 1920

Circa 1920. "Houck Christmas tree." Everyone gather round for eggnog and carols! National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

What an ugly tree!

Wow! This is one of the ugliest Christmas trees I have ever seen! It even has a black kid eating a watermelon in it! Cute? You have to be kidding! Not only does the tree lack any shape, it wasn't even trimmed to have any definition. It looks like they bought a tree too big to fill room so they just hacked off the top.

Ornaments were hung regardless of size. And what gives with all the patriotic stuff? Columbia? Really? What is she, one of the Christmas elves?

This photo proves that these folks were proud of their tree. They were proud of how it looked. It is also obvious that they had no taste. Just like most of us today.

Great photo! I learned a lot.

[You are so full of the Christmas Spirit! - Dave]

The Ornaments

I notice that many of the ornaments are apparently made of paper or card stock. Since WW1 had ended in 1918, perhaps the variety of anchors and patriotic ornaments were an outcome of the war. Also noticed several types of crosses, even an ornament that looks like an Islamic symbol -- but with a six-pointed star. Maybe the family had a son in the war and now he was back home safely -- let's hope so.

The Nightmare Befire Christmas!

Daubing whipped paraffin all over the tree branches! That gives new meaning to all the yearly ritual media on the dangers of live trees catching fire. I think I'll reserve the fireworks for the 4th of July.

Snow glop

My neighbors back in the 50's used a concoction of paraffin for their fake snow. They'd melt it, whip it with a beater (possibly adding some secret ingredient) and carefully daub it on the branches. They always had all deep red balls, with the old fashioned lights (one goes out, they all go out) all in blue. Made for a gorgeous tree.

[We had all-blue lights too! Now it's kind of a family tradition. No twinkly LEDs for us. Good old-fashioned 4W "nite-lite" incandescent bulbs. On a blue spruce. - Dave]

Merry Christmas to all

I love this tree, each ornament is different and special. The scenes at the multi-level base show that someone put in a lot of time decorating this tree to perfection! I only wish our tree today looked this awesome!

I like the other tree...

I think I prefer the other tree with all the Scotch and ashtrays and cigars... more festivities for the grownups!

The Widening

We had a tree like that one year; it was too tall, but for some reason Dad decided to cut the extra off the top instead of the bottom.

I'm also seriously envying those ornaments.

Frond remembrance

I feel kinda bad for that poor half-dead potted fern on the right. Its mate on the left seems so robust and healthy. ::wipes tear::

Case in point

This is why bonsai has been practiced for 6,000 years.

Dreaming of A Wide Christmas

I am officially in love with all of these wonderful ornaments. The tree is VERY wide, but just look at all the detail! My eyes can't find a place to rest. I love it!

Peeking at the Tree

I see a tin ceiling (I believe) lots of crown molding, and small scenes at the base of the tree. Someone spend lots of time decorating this tree and room!

[That's wallpaper on the ceiling. Or maybe ceilingpaper. - Dave]

What's snow with you?

Nowadays people spray fake snow from a can - well, we did when I was a kid, too; the stuff we used back then had a unique aroma that I can almost conjure up in my mind's nose, and if it's still around I'm sure the smell would be one of those that could send me back. But I digress. I was wondering what that glop was they used here. A bit of Googling came up with a recipe of liquid starch and soap flakes that sounds plausibly non-anachronistic.

What's a birdie to do?

A bird trying to land on that tree would've gone cross-eyed. And that'some ceiling crack--runs down the well too.

I spy

I spy some very interesting ornaments on this tree. A scarab, a thresher, a cross and anchor, a fish, a carrot, a pair of axes, and a tin man. What fun!

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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