There is some debate as to when (perhaps as early as 1600s), where (most likely Germany) and who actually introduced the first Christmas tree; however, we can state a reasonable amount of confidence that the tradition of Christmas trees was full established by the early 1800s. The earliest Christmas trees were decorated with really easy to find, affordable — not to mention, edible — items, like candy canes, pastries, apples, and pears. Clever glassblowers from Lauscha, Germany saw an opportunity to improve on these natural decorations and introduced colorful glass baubles in the late 1500s that became very popular all over Europe. (Incidentally, the word bauble is derived from the Old French, baubel, which means “a child’s plaything.” Just as interesting are its many colorful synonyms: bibelot, frippery, gewgaw, gimcrack, kickshaw, knickknack, tchotchke, and trinket.) By the mid-1800s, baubles were embellished with paint, a metal cap and hook for easy hanging. By 1880 the Laucsha glass ornaments made the voyage across the pond to be sold at Woolworth department stores, typically for 3 cents each. Americans could not get enough of these beautiful baubles. Between 1880 and 1939, Woolworths sold more than 500 million Christmas baubles.
Fast forward to 2008. Inspired by a snowflake that he drew, Mark Hussey, owner of Hallmark Jewellers, designed a spectacular Christmas bauble in collaboration with Embee Jewels of London that took over a year to make. The ornament contains a central sphere made of 1,578 diamonds encrusted in 18 carat white gold, surrounded by three one-carat diamonds amid snowflake patterns; the sphere is surrounded by two 18 carat gold rings encrusted with 188 red rubies. The ornament comes in a beautiful handcrafted wooden box and its own stand. “It was never about the value of the bauble,” explains Hussey, “we just wanted to do something special for Christmas. It was more about making something unique, but as we researched other amazing baubles we discovered the most expensive one was £26,874 [$34,000]. We thought, why not see if we can beat it — but we were bowled over when it was valued at £82,000 [$103,935 — in today’s dollars that would be about $117,100].” $117,100 — that number would certainly bring a smile to Scrooge’s face.
Read related posts: The Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index: 2015
A Christmas Carol by the Numbers
The Night Before Christmas by the Numbers
The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life
Words invented by Dickens
Why Read Dickens?
For further reading: http://www.historytoday.com/alison-barnes/first-christmas-tree