A ‘humble’ Loughborough Christmas tree, which captured festive magic for a child more than a century ago has sold for over £3,000 at auction.
The sparse 31in tree with 25 branches, 12 berries and six mini candle holders went under the hammer with an estimate of £60-£80. However, it sparked a global bidding battle at Hansons Auctioneers’ Oxfordshire saleroom and sold for a total of £3,411.
The astonishing result has been put down to ‘the magic of Christmas’ fuelled by nostalgia and a little girl’s story. Though a far cry from today’s plethora of extravagant creations, the tree was the stuff of dreams when it came into Dorothy Grant’s life when she was eight years old in 1920. So much so she kept it for her entire life – and she lived to be 101.
Her story touched hearts around the world, according to Hansons which described the auction result as astonishing. The tree was purchased by a private UK buyer and is now set for a new festive life.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “The magic of Christmas lives on! The humblest Christmas tree in the world has a new home and we’re delighted for both buyer and seller.
“It would have been bought for pennies originally but it’s sold for thousands and that’s astonishing. I think it’s down to the power of nostalgia. Dorothy’s story resonated with people.”
Dorothy, who was born in 1912, was wildly excited when the Christmas tree arrived at her home in Forest Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, in 1920. And though baubles were an extravagance after the 1914-18 First World War, she got round that by decorating the tree with cotton wool to mimic snow.
Dorothy treasured it until she passed away at the age of 101 in January 2014. It was inherited by her daughter, Shirley Hall, 84, who lives near Loughborough.
Charles said: “As simple as it was Dorothy loved that tree. It became a staple part of family celebrations for decades. The fact that it brought her such joy is humbling in itself. It reminds us that extravagance and excess are not required to capture the spirit of Christmas. For Dorothy it was enough to have a tree. The waste-not want-not generations of the past continue to teach us a valuable lesson.
“We understand Dorothy’s mother, who was born in 1891, acquired the tree in 1920, making it 123 years old. Shirley thinks it may have been purchased from a shop in London.
“It resembles the first mass-produced artificial trees sold by popular department store Woolworths. However, the red paint decoration on its wooden base is different to Woolworths examples sold previously. Perhaps Dorothy’s tree was produced for an expensive London department store.
“A similar Christmas tree, purchased in Scotland for the equivalent of 6p in 1937, sold for £150 at Hansons in 2019. Another example, found in Derby, hammered at £420 in 2017. It was secured by the American Christmas Tree Association. But Dorothy’s tree has truly excelled.
“The seller decided to part with it to honour her mother’s memory and to ensure it survives as a humble reminder of 1920s life – a boom-to-bust decade. Despite the devastation of the First World War and Spanish flu pandemic, there was renewed optimism. The Roaring Twenties saw major advances in science and technology. But the decade also brought the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Sadly, war, the aftermath of a pandemic and economic instability are still with us. But, then as now, Christmas joy will never be dampened.”