By December 1914, all thoughts of a quick World War I victory had faded. But on Christmas Eve, an astonishing event took place: Up and down the Western Front, Allied and German soldiers met peacefully in No Man’s Land.In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.Another legend says that in the early 16th century, people in Germany combined two customs that had been practiced in different countries around the globe. The Paradise tree (a fir tree decorated with apples) represented the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The Christmas Light, a small, pyramid-like frame, usually decorated with glass balls, tinsel and a candle on top, was a symbol of the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. Changing the tree’s apples to tinsel balls and cookies and combining this new tree with the light placed on top, the Germans created the tree that many of us know today.
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
How do you put Christmas lights on aluminum?
If you are dealing with a metal roof, awning, (firetruck!) or any metal surface, we highly recommend you look into magnetic clips. This is by far the quickest, easiest way to put lights on a metal surface. Simply attach the clip to the light and drop them where you want them, thats it!
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
Between 1887-1933 a fishing schooner called the Christmas Ship would tie up at the Clark Street bridge and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.
Modern Tannenbaum (Christmas trees) are traditionally decorated in secret with lights, tinsel and ornaments by parents and then lit and revealed on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts and gifts under its branches.
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon, farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931. It was a small unadorned tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights. These days, the giant Rockefeller Center tree is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree dates back to the Depression era. The tallest tree displayed at Rockefeller Center arrived in 1948. It was a Norway Spruce that measured 100 feet tall and hailed from Killingworth, Connecticut.HISTORY.com works with a wide range of writers and editors to create accurate and informative content. All articles are regularly reviewed and updated by the HISTORY.com team. Articles with the “HISTORY.com Editors” byline have been written or edited by the HISTORY.com editors, including Amanda Onion, Missy Sullivan, Matt Mullen and Christian Zapata.
What kind of lights can you put on an aluminum Christmas tree?
The most popular way to light up an aluminum Christmas tree was the use of a color wheel. This spotlight featured a wheel of colors, including red, blue, green, and yellow (amber). Vintage color wheels can be found on resale and auction sites like eBay.
The history of Christmas trees goes back to the symbolic use of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome and continues with the German tradition of candlelit Christmas trees first brought to America in the 1800s. Discover the history of the Christmas tree, from the earliest winter solstice celebrations to Queen Victoria’s decorating habits and the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City.It has long been thought that Martin Luther began the tradition of bringing a fir tree into the home. According to one legend, late one evening, Martin Luther was walking home through the woods and noticed how beautifully the stars shone through the trees. He wanted to share the beauty with his wife, so he cut down a fir tree and took it home. Once inside, he placed small, lighted candles on the branches and said that it would be a symbol of the beautiful Christmas sky. The Christmas tree was born.
We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from his illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes, which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death. Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1933. Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House.
The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.
In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return. Aluminum Christmas trees were first commercially manufactured sometime around 1955, remained popular into the 1960s, and were manufactured into the 1970s. The trees were first manufactured by Modern Coatings, Inc. of Chicago. Between 1959 and 1969, the bulk of aluminum Christmas trees were produced in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the Aluminum Specialty Company; in that decade the company produced more than one million aluminum trees. At the time they were produced in Manitowoc the trees, including the company’s flagship product the “Evergleam”, retailed for $25 and wholesaled for $11.25. Aluminum trees have been said to be the first artificial Christmas trees that were not green in color. It is more accurate to say that aluminum Christmas trees were the first nongreen Christmas trees commercially successful on a grand scale. Long before aluminum Christmas trees were commercially available at least by the late 19th century, white “Christmas trees” were made at home by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches, making what appeared to be snow-laden trees that stayed white in the home. These non-green trees made perfect displays for ornaments and dropped no needles. After Christmas, the cotton was unwrapped and stored with the ornaments for the next year while the branches were burnt or otherwise discarded. Flocked trees, real or artificial, to which flocking was applied became fashionable for the wealthy during the 1930s and have been commercially available since. A 1937 issue of Popular Science advocated spraying aluminum paint using an insect spray gun to coat Christmas trees causing it to appear as if “fashioned of molten silver”.The aluminum Christmas tree was used as a symbol of the commercialization of Christmas in the 1965 television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which discredited its suitability as a holiday decoration. By the mid-2000s aluminum trees found a secondary market online, often selling for high premiums. The trees have also appeared in museum collections.
Aluminum Christmas trees consisted of aluminum branches attached to a wooden or aluminum central pole. The central pole had holes drilled into at angles so when the aluminum foil branches were attached they formed a tree shape. The foil branches had woven aluminum “needles” as well. Each tree took about 15 minutes to assemble.
The first aluminum trees could not be illuminated in the manner traditional for natural Christmas trees or other artificial trees. Fire safety concerns prevented lights from being strung through the tree’s branches; draping electric lights through an aluminum tree could cause a short circuit. The common method of illumination was a floor-based “color wheel” which was placed under the tree. The color wheel featured various colored segments on a clear plastic wheel; when the wheel rotated a light shone through the clear plastic casting an array of colors throughout the tree’s metallic branches. Sometimes this spectacle was enhanced by a rotating Christmas tree stand.An aluminum Christmas tree is a type of artificial Christmas tree that was popular in the United States from 1958 until about the mid-1960s. As its name suggests, the tree is made of aluminum, featuring foil needles and illumination from below via a rotating color wheel.
Are vintage aluminum Christmas trees safe?
On their own, artificial aluminum trees don’t pose any threats, but some early adopters of the all-metal trees were in for a shock when they ignored warnings not to add electric string lights.
During the 1960s, the aluminum Christmas tree enjoyed its most popular period of usage. As the mid-1960s passed, the aluminum Christmas tree began to fall out of favor, with many thrown away or relegated to basements and attics. The airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 has been credited with ending the era of the aluminum tree, and by 1967 their time had almost completely passed.
The aluminum Christmas tree was used as a symbol of the over-commercialization of Christmas in the 1965 Peanuts holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. The program is considered a classic amongst Christmas specials, and its mention of the aluminum tree solidified the tree’s legendary status while satirizing it as well. In the special, Lucy van Pelt implored Charlie Brown to get a “big, shiny aluminum tree…maybe painted pink” for the group’s nativity play. Charlie Brown lamented the commercialization of Christmas and, in a lot surrounded by many huge aluminum trees (much larger than most aluminum trees of the era), purchased a small, scrawny natural tree on a whim instead.
Aluminum Christmas trees have been variously described as futuristic or as cast in a style which evoked the glitter of the Space Age. A Money magazine article published on the CNN website in 2004 called the design of aluminum Christmas trees “clever”. The same article asserted that once the trees overcame their cultural baggage as icons of bad-taste, that aluminum Christmas trees were actually beautiful decor. The Space Age-feel of the trees made them especially suited to the streamlined home decor of the time period.
Where does IKEA get its Christmas trees from?
To ensure the freshest trees, IKEA will only be stocking Nordmann fir trees grown in Scotland in stores located in England and Scotland.
By 1989, it was not uncommon to find aluminum Christmas trees for sale in yard sales or at estate sales being sold for as little as 25 cents. In recent years the aluminum Christmas tree has seen a re-emergence in popularity. Collectors began buying and selling the trees, especially on online auction web sites. A rare 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) pink aluminum Christmas tree sold on the Internet for $3,600 in 2005.The re-emergent popularity of aluminum Christmas trees has allowed them to find their way into museum collections. One example is the Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum (officially known as the Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum and Research Center). The museum, variously located in Brevard or Asheville, North Carolina was called “campy” by Fodor’s in 2009. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis holds a vintage aluminum Christmas tree and color wheel in its collections. The Wisconsin Historical Museum has held the “‘Tis the Season” exhibition at least twice, featuring a collection of vintage aluminum Christmas trees.
Whether you decorate with blue or red balls . . . or use the tree without ornaments – this exquisite tree is sure to be the talk of your neighborhood. High luster aluminum gives a dazzling brilliance. Shimmering silvery branches are swirled and tapered to a handsome realistic fullness. It’s really durable . . needles are glued and mechanically locked on. Fireproof . . you can use it year after year.
A seasonal display featuring hundreds of Aluminum Specialty Evergleam trees alongside other vintage holiday items created by Mirro Aluminum and the National Tinsel Company throughout historic downtown Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Olivia Heath is the Executive Digital Editor at House Beautiful UK, covering tomorrow’s biggest interior design trends and revealing the best tips, tricks and hacks to help you decorate your home like a pro. Week by week Olivia shares the most stylish high street buys to help you get the look for less and showcases the best real homes, from House Beautiful’s One Room Renovation video series, to the hottest and most unique properties on the market.’Over the festive season, a beautifully decorated tree becomes the focal point of any space,’ says Anna Liakh, Commercial Activities Leader, IKEA UK and Ireland.
Once you get the £10 voucher, you will be able to redeem it against a range of IKEA homewares from 9th January to 12th February 2023 only. The voucher cannot be used towards purchases from IKEA Shop Online, IKEA Restaurant, IKEA Swedish Food Market and IKEA Bistro.
This striking blush pink garland will make quite the statement on a mantelpiece or sideboard. Add twinkling lights and some LED candles for a wonderful, Christmassy glow.
Is the Christmas tree a German invention?
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce.
We love the dusky green eucalyptus leaves on this evergreen garland. Perfect if you’re embracing a minimalist decorating theme, style on the mantelpiece for a truly elegant Christmas display.
‘We’re thrilled to be bringing back our popular Christmas tree offer for another year, providing affordable, high-quality trees for customers to enjoy. With the added bonus of a £10 voucher to spend in the new year across our range of homewares in-store, we hope to spread the festive cheer for a few more months to come!’
Pine cones are a traditional Christmas decoration and lends itself well to rustic interiors. The glittered embellishments on this design, combined with faux pearls and champagne-coloured baubles, creates a contemporary look.
The Swedish furniture retailer’s highly anticipated annual Christmas tree offer is running from 25th November to 24th December 2022. If you’re looking to pick up a real Christmas tree this year, then make sure not to miss out.
• This offer is valid when you buy an ABIES NORDMANNIANA Christmas tree (article number: 80228363) for £25 in a single transaction from an IKEA store or via the online booking and reservation tool, from 25th November to 24th December 2022.
Do they still make aluminum trees?
Sales began to wane, and by 1969 production had stopped. THE COMEBACK. Fast-forward to 2022, and aluminum trees are back in style. There’s even a museum devoted to them.
• Upon purchase of the Christmas tree you will then receive a £10 voucher to spend in a participating IKEA store at a later date. Please note, this voucher is only valid for use within participating IKEA stores, Order and Collection Points, and Planning Studios in the UK. You cannot use the voucher online.Theron Georges is a native of San Antonio, TX. He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in Aeronautical Science. Theron pioneered an undergraduate flight officer candidate internship at Mexicana Airlines in Mexico City, where he published his first written work Guide to United States Aviation Weather Services. After serving as a flight instructor at the University of Oklahoma, Theron further advanced his aviation career as a British Aerospace AVRO RJ-85 first officer for Northwest Airlink. Currently, he flies as a Dassault Falcon captain for a corporate flight department based in the D/FW Metroplex. The 60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is packed with extremely rare and never before seen ephemera including: original instruction sheets, heirloom family photographs, period newspaper clippings, vintage magazine advertisements, official marketing materials, and an assortment of packaging inserts. The Evergleam Book is the encyclopedia of Evergleam you’ve been waiting for! Space Age Christmas Trees is a 110-page 20,000-word manuscript for a fourth book in the Space Age Christmas Trees series. It was completed in May 2021. International Standard Book Number 978-0-578-30255-3 was assigned to Space Age Christmas Trees.
In 2004, Season’s Gleamings — the photography book about aluminum Christmas trees by Wisconsin artists John Shimon and Julie Lindemann — captured the imaginations of readers across America.But, it left me craving even more detailed information about Evergleam aluminum Christmas trees. What was their story? Who were the people that made them? How many different trees were produced? And, don’t forget about those color wheels. This was the beginning of The Evergleam Book.
Is it safe to put lights on an aluminum Christmas tree?
-Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
For domestic United States customers, your purchase of a book already includes shipping via USPS Media Mail. Last year, the United States Post Office was plagued by labor shortages and shipping delays. In a few isolated cases, delivery of books shipped using the USPS Media Mail were delayed for weeks. If you want to ensure prompt and secure delivery for Holiday 2022, you may elect to pay for expedited shipping services with several different carriers. I cannot refund book purchases due to delays in delivery.The Space Age Christmas Trees Exhibit Photo Shoot was commissioned on January 4, 5, and 6, 2021, specifically for the Space Age Christmas Trees manuscript. The collection has appeared in Evergleams at Hobby Airport in Houston, the Ever Gleaming exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, in addition to the Space Age Christmas Trees exhibits at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in Houston. Space Age Christmas Trees books have received additional press coverage in the Houston Chronicle, KPRC 2 News, KHOU 11 HTOWN60, Houston Life, as well as Atomic Ranch Magazine. Theron is the creative ethos behind Evergleam Press, LLC—the home of the original Space Age Christmas Trees. The organization’s mission is to share the history and the joy of vintage aluminum Christmas trees with the whole world. These educational endeavors are achieved through: gifting a portion of his private collection to a designated 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institution; the Space Age Christmas Trees series of books including The Wonderful World of Evergleam, The Evergleam Book 60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, Starlite by Revlis—A Sensational Revelation; and Space Age Christmas Trees; as well as the Space Age Christmas Trees branded exhibitions of vintage aluminum Christmas trees for the enjoyment of the public at large.Because of these halcyon sentiments, the trees and the story behind them had to be cataloged, archived, and preserved. Theron Georges has written what surely will be the definitive book about these whimsical and iconic trees called Evergleams.”
These vintage aluminum Christmas trees more than kitschy collectibles…more than mid-century masterpieces…they are world class national treasures…we might as well just get it out in the open.”
The Specialty’s factory doors are shut forever. The last generation of former executives and workers is living their Golden Years. But now, a moment in time from the glittery Space Age is forever captured within the covers of The Evergleam Book — the true story of America’s beloved, fabulous, and sparkling Evergleam.The Evergleam Book tells the story of the 1959 debut of the aluminum Christmas tree by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. By the mid-1960s, the Evergleam had sky-rocketed to meteoric heights of popularity, before suddenly plummeting into the annals of Christmases past. When the Aluminum Specialty Company shut its doors forever, all company records were lost, including the fascinating story of this truly American Space Age Christmas tree. . . until now.After doing the Season’s Gleamings book, it is wonderful to see renewed interest in Evergleams. There are countless stories waiting to be told. Theron Georges has written a definitive book on the history of this quirky product of the aluminum novelty industry!”For Evergleam collectors, this book is the reference guide you’re been waiting for. And for those who just like looking at the sparkly boughs and color wheels, it’s a holiday walk through a quirky time in history, and a powerful presentation of an American success story that lives on today, through collectors, storytellers and scholars like Theron.”
With Theron Georges as your guide, you’ll explore Evergleam’s hometown, you’ll meet and reminisce with the people who made Evergleams famous, and you’ll discover the entire sparkling line of Evergleam aluminum Christmas trees.As seen in Atomic Ranch Magazine’s Retro Holiday Wish List! Also, featured in Charles Phoenix’s Merry Christmasland, the Houston Chronicle, KRIV FOX 26 News, KPRC 2 News, KHOU Channel 11 HTOWN60, Houston Life, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, and Wisconsin Historical Museum!
Was the Christmas tree made in Germany?
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce.
The popularity of aluminum Christmas trees means that many quality reproductions are on the market, but if your heart is set on a vintage model, a smaller size can be more budget friendly. Trees under three feet can also be displayed on table tops or mounted on the wall as a nostalgic piece of holiday art.
Where were the Evergleam Christmas trees made?
Manitowoc, Wisconsin Aluminum Christmas trees became a popular holiday fixture in the 1960s, and the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, helped launch the national craze. Their tree, the Evergleam, was the most popular tree available, and several million of them found their way into American homes. Cached
The trend got its start in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 61 years ago, where the now-defunct Aluminum Specialty Company made the first metal trees in 1959. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the story goes that in 1958, a toy sales manager saw a metal tree in a store window in Chicago and brought back the idea to the company. The original version he saw was a hard sell because it cost up to $150 at the time and was difficult to assemble.If you can’t find a vintage aluminum Christmas tree at your favorite antiques shop or flea market, there are many options online at Etsy.com and eBay.com. The cost of a full-size vintage aluminum tree can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Silver tends to be the least expensive, and pink the most pricey. When buying one, make sure it comes with paper sleeves to protect the branches during the rest of the year when it’s disassembled and packed up in storage.There is a scene in the 1965 holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, when Charlie and Linus go shopping for the biggest aluminum Christmas tree Lucy asks them to get that’s “maybe painted pink.” They end up at a lot filled with aluminum trees in bright colors of violet, red, yellow, blue and the requested pink. There in the middle of those dazzling technicolor creations is the only real tree — a sad-looking little sapling that Charlie Brown zeroes in on.Aluminum Specialty produced more than 1 million of these trees. Their popularity increased rapidly for several years, with more than 40 other competitors, including Mirro, also located in Manitowoc, producing them.This Evergleam tree was purchased by Lisa Bagley’s grandparents, who passed it on to her in 1987 and it’s still glowing strong. It’s decorated with glass bulbs and ornaments made by her grandkids.
Regardless, silver aluminum Christmas trees are an icon of space-age kitsch. A growing cadre of collectors, enthusiasts of mid-century modern design and those who appreciate the long lifespan and low maintenance of artificial trees view the sparkly metal totems as legitimate objets d’art and vintage trees now routinely sell for hundreds — rare ones for even thousands — of dollars. With many baby boomers fondly recalling the aluminum-gilded holidays of their youth, the metal trees also symbolize comforting nostalgia. Over the past few years, aluminum trees have made a comeback, and nowhere more so than in mid-century modern homes, where they just seem so at home. Many people also look at them as the “greener” option: While millions of real Christmas trees get thrown out every year, aluminum trees can be used over and over again. Smaller vintage table-top aluminum trees, ranging from around 17 inches to four feet, are currently selling online between $30 to $300 — two-foot-tall Evergleam in the 1960s could be purchased for about $2. Taller trees from five to eight feet have been selling from $100 to $1,200. The price can be even higher for pom-pom trees, which flare at the end of each branch like a firework (non pompom models look more like a realistic branch), pom poms with colored “berries” in them, rotating trees and rare colored ones. On eBay, trees in those categories that recently sold include a gold pom-pom tree for $4,050; a gold Evergleam for $2,025; a green pom pom with red ornament tips for $1,250; a rare eight-foot tree with red and green pom poms for $1,400; and a six-foot revolving Evergleam tree with color wheel for $1,499. Color wheels are selling for $50 to $485.
Kris Manty is a freelance writer with extensive experience in the antiques and collectibles field. While well versed in many areas, she has a flair for vintage fashion.Sales began to decline in the late 1960s when families joined the sentiments of Charlie Brown, who longed for a less commercial holiday. Final production of the Evergleam was in 1971, when the company re-focused its efforts on the children’s cookware sets for which it had always been known. Many aluminum trees utilized a rotating color wheel that projected colored light up through the tree from the floor, like this vintage Colortone electric “roto-wheel.” Despite the reminder from Linus of the tree Lucy requested, and that the scrawny one “doesn’t seem to fit the modern spirit,” Charlie Brown says he doesn’t care and takes the tree with him anyway because “it needs me.” It was a happy ending for the little sapling, but eventually proved to be a sad one for the aluminum trees. The small, scraggly evergreen was seen as superior to the gaudy aluminum version: a triumph of the true and authentic over the fake and commercial.
A Charlie Brown Christmas production cel (Bill Melendez, 1965) of Charlie picking a scrawny real tree instead of a shiny aluminum one. Many point to this moment as the start of the decline in popularity of aluminum trees. This cel sold at auction for $21,510.
Aluminum Specialty engineers were given the task of designing a tree that was affordable, portable and easy to assemble. They pulled it off in just three months and were ready to mass produce the trees, dubbed “Evergleams,” in time for the 1959 Christmas season. Cleverly designed, the trunks have pre-drilled holes to accommodate the metal branches, which feature woven aluminum “needles.” They lack that fresh pine aroma of real trees, but a pine-scented candle can create the missing olfactory experience.
Aluminum Christmas trees are festive enough to stand alone, but homeowners often pair them with sets of brightly colored Shiny Brite ornaments and color wheels. Since stringing electric lights on a metal tree can cause a short circuit, manufacturers came up with the different lighting source of an illuminated color wheel. These wheels were usually positioned on the floor and aimed at the tree, and rotated to throw colored light onto the tree in blue, green, red and yellow, creating a cool reflective effect. The spectacle was sometimes further enhanced by a rotating tree stand. Stands and color wheels are standard accessories for today’s aluminum-tree fans.
Two other of many aluminum trees grace the Denver home of Monica Martinez and her husband John Huggins – the green one here and the silver one in the back.An Evergleam 94-branch stainless aluminum six-foot Christmas tree with tripod stand, 1960s, by Aluminum Specialty of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The Shiny Brite ornaments shown on the tree were not included with the sale; $500.Ultimately, though, perhaps the best reason to get one of these shimmering beauties is for the aesthetic: They’re the very definition of Yuletide cool.
At an affordable price point of $25, the trees were a huge success and became a design trend by the early 1960s. They ranged in height from two to eight feet. About 80 percent of all Evergleams were produced in silver, but with such a seasonal product, innovations in branch styles and colors were soon introduced to the expanding market, including yellow, pink and green. The trees appealed to the notion of modern living where life was clean, automated and easy; with an aluminum tree, needles never fell, it could be stored compactly and re-used every year, with none of the fuss of a real tree.
“I’ve had mine for about 34 years. It was originally purchased by my grandparents and I can remember it in their living room every Christmas, starting from when I was about 5. That would have been 1967. They gave it to me in 1987,” said Lisa Bagley of her 94-branch Evergleam tree. She even has the original box.
Monica Martinez and her husband John Huggins have found mid-century modern inspiration for their Christmas decorations throughout their Denver home, which include multiple aluminum Christmas trees. “There is just something so zen about sitting in the dark with the fireplace going and watching a shiny tree change colors. I have the added blessings of the history of the tree, as well as the fact that it sits in front of the big picture window of my 1890 home. My neighbors say it’s not Christmas until they see my living room looking like a rainbow.” Bagley said. “I love my tree. So happy to find that there are a whole lot of other people who love theirs, too!” Many people point to the popularity of the special as being the reason for the decline in the popularity of aluminum Christmas trees, which were at their peak from 1958 to 1965. By 1967, two years after the special first aired, they were no longer being regularly manufactured. Maybe Charlie Brown did help push out aluminum trees or perhaps it was just a coincidence and they went the way of other fads by simply running their course. RESOURCES Visit the Transylvania Heritage Museum in Brevard, North Carolina for the annual pop-up-event. Visit the Wisconsin Historical Museum’s Evergleam online exhibit here. You can buy the Evergleam book here. • How can you tell if a tree is vintage? The branches on vintage trees can be removed from the trunk, which has holes where the branches are inserted. Newer trees tend to have branches that are fixed to the trunk and fold in and out.• Aluminum Christmas tree prices vary widely, from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Silver trees seem to be the cheapest, while pink is the most expensive. The smaller the size, the lower the price.
THE COMEBACK. Fast-forward to 2022, and aluminum trees are back in style. There’s even a museum devoted to them. The annual pop-up Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum (ATOM) in Brevard, North Carolina is the only one of its kind in the world. There are dozens of trees, and each year there’s a different theme. The Marilyn Monroe and Elvis trees are a sight to behold. Some of the trees have color wheels, providing a pretty light show. “In a region where people are adamant about preserving and protecting nature, ATOM strives to preserve the legacy of the distant cousin of our forest trees, the Aluminum Christmas Tree,” states the Transylvania Heritage Website.
A METALLIC REVOLUTION. Aluminum trees were all the rage for several years. Millions were sold. Cheap! Shiny! So many different colors and manufacturers to choose from! The trees came with one warning: Don’t put lights on them. The fear was that people would be electrocuted if any wiring was exposed. The solution was perhaps even better than lights: spinning color wheels! Placed on the floor near the tree, they cast different-colored lights on the branches, and the lights moved as the wheel spun—comparable to today’s outdoor holiday projector lights. People placed glass ornaments on the trees, which added to the color-changing effect; Shiny Brite ornaments were the most popular, and remain sought-after collectibles. The aluminum tree, decked out in colorful ornaments, became an integral part of the American Christmas tradition.• Consider building your own tree by buying branches and a pole separately. You’ll find may sellers on eBay and Etsy who have individual parts for sale.
SHOW SOME TLC. If you’ve lucked into a vintage tree that’s in good condition, take care so you can extend its life even longer. Vintage trees originally had a paper sleeve around each branch for protection when stored. The problem, says Rebecca Suddeth, curator of ATOM, is that, due to age, the “needles” may come off when the sleeves are removed. The museum stores each of its trees in its own plastic tub, with the branches removed and placed in the tub next to the trunk, she says. The trees have held up extremely well, she says. Cleaning vintage aluminum trees can be tricky since there is a risk of losing the “needles.” Some websites recommend lightly dusting the branches. Rebecca says the museum trees haven’t been cleaned in decades, for fear of damaging them. They still look brand new, even after 60 years, she says.
In December 1958, the vice president of toys for Wisconsin manufacturer Aluminum Specialty was at the company’s annual Christmas lunch, which executives from Ben Franklin department stores were attending. One of the execs mentioned seeing a metal Christmas tree in a Chicago window display. The tree was so bulky and heavy that he knew it wouldn’t sell in his stores. He wondered if Aluminum Specialty could create a lighter, cheaper version for Ben Franklin stores to sell. The deal was made. The Aluminum Specialty version was called the Evergleam Tree. It landed on the department store’s shelves in time for Christmas 1959. It came in many different sizes and cost between $5 and $25. Housewives across the country were smitten.THE LUSTER FADES. In 1965, a cartoon changed everything. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Lucy sends Charlie Brown and Linus out to buy the biggest aluminum tree they can find. When they find it, they decide that it’s a symbol of how fake Christmas has become. They decide to get a tree that, even in all its scrawniness, is natural and representative of the holiday’s true spirit. Suddenly, the Evergleam Tree wasn’t so desirable. Sales began to wane, and by 1969 production had stopped.
FROM WAR TO WHIMSY. In the 1950s, aluminum was abundant. Aluminum companies had ramped up production during World War II, and by the war’s end they had a whole lot of it. It was time to get creative. In 1957, Chicago-based Modern Coatings created a new type of artificial Christmas tree—a metal one. Fake Christmas trees had been around for a while, but nobody had seen anything like this one. The downside was that these trees were bulky and heavy, and they cost $75 to $100, which was expensive at the time.
“Exactly what the buyer wanted and we took it to New York for the toy show. The first person I worked with was from Minneapolis, and it was a woman buyer and she loved it,” Waak says.
Evergleam aluminum Christmas trees were all the rage in the early 1960s. The Manitowoc-made trees were anything but natural – artsy, space-aged, jaw-dropping. Today, the trees are seeing a rise in popularity – they’re alive at an exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum and are hot on eBay.Curator Joseph Kapler’s eyes gleam with pride as he looks at the centerpiece of the exhibit, a rare, pink Evergleam Christmas Tree. Some fetch prices as high as $1,800. Fewer pink trees were manufactured and became coveted thanks to a certain 1965 animated TV special.
Waak says over the n
ext several years, the Aluminum Specialites plant was pumping out Evergleams 24/7, ten months of the year. And in fact, the tree “lived” on the market for thirteen years.“Everything here that we’re looking at we would collect and preserve; just like we do widgets and gadgets. wedding dresses and archival collections and furniture. This because it’s a Wisconsin product. All these were made in Manitowoc, Wisconsin,” he says. The buyer challenged Aluminum Specialties to get the price down and get it into a box that we put a display in our stores, customers can look at it, pick up a box and take it home. So this was two weeks before Christmas,” Waak says. Evergleams are fetching hefty prices these days on eBay. That could not have been said for the Moore family tree. He says he and his brother wore it out. Curator Joseph Kapler points out enclosed cases of surviving Evergleam artifacts. As much as the trees themselves, he covets their accessories and above all its packaging.”One of the marketing innovations that Jerry Wook and others had was finding new and different places to retail these,” Kapler says. “And, one of the ideas they thought of in the 1960s was automotive supply stores; and a lot of them are located in the downtown central business districts. Well in December, there’s not a lot of need for tires; so they convinced a lot of these retailers to sell Evergleams, put these up and give people a reason to come in. So it’s great sales thinking along with great product development thinking.”
“We didn’t have the glass balls because they were afraid of me knocking them off as a kid – or me and my brother – so we went with a plastic blue ball and once and a while we did popcorn on a string or paper chains,” he says.
He uses what he’s got to maximum effect through lighting. It seems to be working on a mother and her young daughter. They plunk down on the floor and gaze tree-ward – seemingly mesmerized. According to Kapler, during the 60s, the aluminum tree evoked strong reactions – from distaste to delight. But he says the manufacturer did not set out to replace the traditional “live” Christmas tree.Editor’s note: Early in the story you heard a bit of I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas sun by The Nefrons ; and the final tune was sung by the Capitol Chordsmen. “The company Aluminum Specialties always had Christmas parties for two customers – Montgomery Ward and Ben Franklin stores in Chicago. And the Christmas decoration buyer said to my boss, I’ve got to show you something,” Waak says. Although he says the tree stood regally in their living room window – unlike curator Joseph Kapler’s depiction – Moore and his brother were allowed to decorate their Evergleam.He calls his collection of 22 trees a forest. While the gallery’s north wall is lined with Evergleams, “forest” seems a bit puffed up. But, Kapler says, compare it to his first show, eight years ago.
Joseph Kapler says the Wisconsin Historical Society intends to hold on to what remains, as many Evergleams as its pocketbook will allow, along with family photos around their aluminum tree and in store windows that people like Gerry Wook were responsible for.
Aluminum Specialties became the largest manufacturer of the trees; and at its peak – employed 750 people to make Christmas trees that evolved over time.
“It’s kind of like the ones on the floor here but a little bit bigger. But not only that, but the tree stand like the one displayed, it turned and it was gold and it played music at the same time,” Moore says.She placed an order on the spot – and not a conservative one. “And I’ll tell you, at that time, with our toy line where we were selling and item for $1 or $2 or $3; a $25,000 order was big,” he adds. Her order was for $50,000.
“They started out as straight needle and they added the pompom tips and then they did things like frosting the needles – basically crimping aluminum chaff,” Kapler says.
Thank you for that. As a child of the 60’s, I was once aware of that, but had completely forgotten. I do own an aluminum tree, so thanks for the reminder!!!Many thanks to readers who spotted the caution — Do not hang electric lights on aluminum Christmas trees — on the website about vintage Christmas lights. With some additional research, I uncovered a news release from the Consumer Product Safety Commission — CPSC Announces Holiday Season Decorating Tips — that also warned of the potential for electrical hazards when you combine metallic Christmas trees with electric lights:
Joan, I re-read the CPSC news release – it’s linked to in this article and also called out in this article and contains this guidance advice: “-Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.”
I seem to get variations of this question each year. I am not an expert – I am relaying what is in the CPSC guidance. For more information, consult with the maker of your tree or with another properly licensed professional or I suppose you could try the CPSC again as well. Retro Renovation stopped publishing in 2021; these stories remain for historical information, as potential continued resources, and for archival purposes. -Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.Seems that aluminum is a conductor of electricity, so if you put electric lights on it, you have the necessary ingredients to create shock and/or fire. So take notice – and take care! The smart — and easy — thing to do with vintage aluminum trees: Hang ornaments…and use a color wheel. In fact, it seems that color wheels were devised to get right around the electric-hazard issue of stringing lights onto aluminum.
This is an opportune time for me to remind readers that on this blog, I do not generally allow readers to offer safety or environmental advice. I advise folks to empower themselves consulting with pros/experts regarding their own particular situation. This precaution regarding aluminum Christmas trees and electric lights, though, is validated on a government website, so I thought it would be of value to readers, many of whom may have aluminum trees, which only seem to grow and grow as a desired collectible. See our Be Safe/Renovate Safe page for more info.
Were there ever aluminum Christmas trees?
Aluminum Christmas trees were first commercially manufactured sometime around 1955, remained popular into the 1960s, and were manufactured into the 1970s. The trees were first manufactured by Modern Coatings, Inc. of Chicago.
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The most popular way to light up an aluminum Christmas tree was the use of a color wheel. This spotlight featured a wheel of colors, including red, blue, green, and yellow (amber). Vintage color wheels can be found on resale and auction sites like eBay.Christmas Central has one of the largest and most diverse collections of tinsel trees in almost every color imaginable in their trees. Sizes start at 15″ and go up to around 14′ high. They also ship through Amazon as well. Styles include:
Bed Bath & Beyond offers a unique slim 6′ shiny red or gold tinsel Christmas tree with a 20″ diameter. It has 520 branch tips. Price: Around $200 with free shipping
In shopping for retro aluminum Christmas trees, you need to read the description to ascertain if it is truly a metal aluminum tree or a PVC or Mylar tinsel tree.Modern tinsel Christmas trees are made from either a metallic coated mylar or PVC film. These original aluminum trees were illuminated using a color wheel. This replaced electric lights that would short circuit when making contact with the metal tree. The color wheel was placed on the floor to up light the tree with its rotating color wheel. You will need to purchase the color wheel separately.