For the next two weeks, antiques dealer Philip Colleck, Ltd. will host a selling exhibition of more than 150 antique Christmas tree stands collected by interior designer Harry Heissman at its Upper East Side Manhattan gallery.
Harry Heissmann with his collection of tree stands
Formed over 20 years, Heissmann’s collection consists of mid-19th- to early-20th-century German tree stands, each featuring a different form and decoration. Bringing a Christmas tree into the home was an established practice in Germany by 1800, and one that was brought to North America by German immigrants.
A rare custom Art Nouveau style stand made by the von den Steinen company in Wald Germany, circa 1900
“When I first moved to the United States [from Germany], I learned that many people put their trees on the sidewalk with the stand still attached, as they will just buy a new one the next year,” Heissmann says. “This would of course not have happened in 19th-century Germany, when the novelty cast iron stands were very expensive and could only be bought by wealthy families. The stands became family heirlooms and would be kept in the attic or the basement to be used again and again.”
Samson, Heissmann’s French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, admires a 1920s ceramic toadstool stand holding feather tree
Most of the stands in Heissmann’s collection are cast iron and made for table-top trees. Rarities include a stand that could be attached to a gramophone, enabling the tree to turn to music; another incorporates an elaborate night scene of a manger in Bethlehem as a backdrop and a water fountain in the fore; and, one of Heissmann’s favorites, a ceramic toadstool, circa 1920, made to support a feather tree. Feather trees, made of dyed goose feathers, were the precursors to artificial trees.
A small selection of stands is also available for purchase online on the Philip Colleck, Ltd. 1stdibs page. Prices for the stands begin at $295. The exhibition will be open daily from Dec. 11 through 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Photo Credit: Josh Gaddy