One of the hottest items on eBay right now is the shimmery aluminum Christmas tree, preferably if it includes the color wheel that allows the branches to change hues. In the past week I've seen vintage Evergleam models going for over $300 to the highest bidder - amazing for a holiday icon that people wanted to get rid of at yard sales for 25 cents in the 80s. Real tree purists may cringe at these shiny holiday creations and consider them symbols of bad taste but personally, I love aluminum and tinsel trees. When filled with colorful glass ornaments, nothing else screams retro Christmas to me.
Aluminum Christmas trees made their U.S. debut in the mid-50s, an inspiration of the space age influence on home decor at the time. They were first produced by a company called Modern Coatings. The Evergleam model was made by another company called the Aluminum Specialty Company, which manufactured over a million trees between 1959 and 1969. Evergleam was popular for its "pom pom" trees which featured feathery pom poms or bursts on the ends of the branches. While these "permanent" trees as they referred to at the time were deemed fireproof, they weren't meant to be strung with lights; that was quite dangerous as it could give someone a nasty electrical shock! Instead, manufacturers provided a color wheel that was placed underneath the tree to give it a psychedelic color changing effect.
Many online sources say that the airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 was responsible for the trees' decline in popularity in the public eye. In the TV special, Charlie Brown chooses a wonky looking real tree over the many aluminum trees available that Lucy favors. The show's underlying complaint about Christmas being too commercial may have also put a damper on sales. By the late 60s, the Sears Wish Book catalog was now selling only fake trees that more resembled the real thing in look and feel.
Today, however, the retro revolution has made the aluminum tree very popular again. By the way, if you find yourself the owner of a pink vintage variety, consider yourself very lucky. Pink aluminum trees are very rare - according to AluminumChristmasTrees.net, only one out of every 10,000 trees made during their height in popularity were pink.
Growing up, my house never had one, which is probably why I'm fascinated with aluminum trees. My father was a deer hunter who often returned from his trips with not a deer, but a real tree for Christmas; we also eventually went with a lifelike fake tree that still gets set up in my mother's living room each holiday season. I have a large white tree and a small fiber optic one that I both love, but in the meantime I just ordered this cute little pink tabletop tree from the Vermont Country Store for my desk in work. Technically, it's made of plastic but it'll have to do and at $13 it's pretty affordable:
Check out eBay, Oakdale Enterprises (their trees are made in the USA!), ATOM (The Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum) and the Aluminum Christmas Tree link above if you're interested in purchasing an authentic shiny wonder - but be prepared to part with some serious dough if you do! And if you grew up with one of these trees or currently own one, I'd love to hear all about it.