Christmas Trees from Maine

by Nancy Noble, MHS Archivist & Cataloger

Christmas trees - Coll. S-1553

By the mid-19th century Christmas trees were available for American households to purchase to decorate their homes during the holiday season. In New York City, one could purchase trees grown in Maine.

Collections at our library regarding Thomas W. Jackson Jr. and his son Herbert A. Jackson, nurserymen in Stroudwater (now Portland), confirm the availability of Maine trees grown to sell in New York. An advertisement states: “20,000 Christmas trees from the State of Maine, 4 to 25 feet high will be sold very low for cash. Twenty years experience collecting Christmas trees for the New York market.”

An 1860 invoice shows cash sales for Christmas trees. The business started off slow on December 13th with sales of only $2.35, but peaked by December 21st with sales of $70.18. A total of $341.04 worth of Christmas trees was sold by December 24th. (One wonders how much each tree cost).

Coll. 2776 Jackson collection Christmas trees invoice 1870

An 1870 invoice reveals that cash was “received for Christmas trees deducting expenses after leaving home from Dec. 12th to 29th 1870” ($879.86). A bill was paid for $146.50 for “travelling expenses on acct of trees from Oct. 4th to Nov. 5th, 1870.”

Coll. 2776 Jackson collection Christmas tree invoice 1860

Some things never change. Christmas trees from Maine are still desirable and trucked to New York and elsewhere, and pine boughs and wreaths are shipped all over the world. After all, we are the “Pine Tree State!”

For more information on these collections see Coll. 2776 and Coll. S-1553.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Maine Historical Society! We look forward to making history with you in 2015.

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Celebrate the Traditional Arts This Holiday Season

TradArtsShowcaseAs part of our Celebrate the Season programs and activities, we invite you to join us on Saturday, December 15, for an open house celebrating traditional arts in Maine.

Traditional arts are rooted in a longstanding sense of place and cultural identity. Expertise is often gained over time within a community context through apprenticeship or observation, rather than through formal instruction.

From 10AM to 5PM, Maine artists and craftspeople will be demonstrating and displaying their work in the Longfellow House and Garden, the Brown Library, and the Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. Lecture Hall.

They include: spinner Judy Warde of Cape Elizabeth; portrait artist and silhouette cutter Ruth Monsell of Damariscotta; bookbinder Martha Kearsley of Portland; photographer Cole Caswell of Peak’s Island; oil painter Timothy Wilson of Portland; blacksmith Sam Smith; and woodcarvers James Irish, Thon Palmer, Robert Perry, and Norma Wing.

A modest $5 per person entrance fee allows visitors to see all these artists at work, plus tour the MHS museum and Longfellow House. For more information on these traditions, artist biographies, and other holiday programming, download our Celebrate the Season booklet.

Celebrate the Season!

We know things get busy this time of year. But here’s hoping you’ll save a little room in your calendar for some of the many special events and activities Maine Historical Society has in store starting November 23.

Visit the Longfellow House and hear first hand how the Longfellow Family celebrated the Christmas holiday. Listen to the newly-restored 1843 Chickering piano played in the parlor during Saturday afternoon tours, and enjoy Indoor Amusements, a micro-exhibit in the house featuring a selection of toys and games from the 1850s to the 1990s.

Purchase holiday merchandise at the shop set up in the Longfellow House, buy gifts on line, or purchase photographic reproductions on VintageMaineImages.com ($5 off all 8″ x 10″ prints).

For all the details, visit our programs page. And Happy Holidays from all of us at MHS!