The "humblest Christmas tree in the world" which is thought to be one of the earliest mass-produced artificial trees has sold at auction for more than 50 times its estimated asking price.
The 31-inch artificial tree -- with just 25 branches, 12 fake berries and six miniature candle holders -- went up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers' in Oxfordshire, England, with an estimated selling price of 60-80 ($76-101).
However, after what the auction called a "global bidding battle," the 123-year-old tree ended up selling for a grand total of 3,411 ($4,338), more than 50 times the minimum estimated selling price.
The tree originally belonged to Dorothy Grant who had owned it since she was 8-years-old in 1920 and she kept it for her entire life until she passed away in Jan. 2014 at the age of 101, according to a statement from Hansons Auctioneers.
"Dorothy, who was born in 1912, was wildly excited when the Christmas tree arrived at her home in Forest Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, in 1920," Hansons said. "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. 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."
Hansons Auctioneers said that Dorothy took care of and treasured the artificial Christmas tree until she died and it was inherited by her 84-year-old daughter, Shirley Hall, who lives in Loughborough, England.
Following the sale, which Hansons has described the end result as "astonishing," the tree is now in the hands of an unnamed private buyer in the United Kingdom and is "now set for a new festive life," Hansons said.
"The humblest Christmas tree in the world has a new home and we're delighted for both buyer and seller," said Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers. "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."
While the origination if the tree is not completely known, Dorothy's daughter, Shirley, thinks it may have been purchased from a shop in London. 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," Hansons said. "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."
Wherever it came from, there is no doubt that the price of the tree has far exceeded the wildest expectations of what it was expected to command at auction.
A similar Christmas tree, purchased in Scotland for the equivalent of 6 pence in 1937, sold for 150 at Hansons in 2019, the auctioneers said. While another tree, found in Derby, fetched 420 in 2017.