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Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree

I had been looking for a vintage aluminum Christmas tree locally forever with no luck – so I finally broke down and recently bought one on eBay. I don’t know why I have waited for so long – after all, aluminum Christmas trees are like “must-have” item for any mid-century modern enthusiasts! My aluminum Christmas tree is a 4.5’ “Silver Forest” model by Arandell Products Company out of Philadelphia. I noticed there were so many different brands and models of the vintage aluminum Christmas trees while shopping around, so I decided to do a little research on the history of aluminum Christmas trees.

My First Aluminum Christmas Tree

The very first Aluminum Christmas trees were custom made by a company called Modern Coatings, Inc. in Chicago. The company held a patent on their trees, which were retailed for around $80 (for a six-foot tree). In 1959, the Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin acquired a license from Modern Coatings to begin mass production of aluminum Christmas trees, the “Evergleam,” which retailed for $25. More than one million Evergleam trees in a variety of sizes and colors were produced by the Aluminum Specialty Company between 1959 and 1969. Many other companies manufactured their own version of aluminum Christmas trees throughout the 1960’s and into early 1970’s. The aluminum Christmas trees were at the height of their popularity during the mid-1960’s.

Illuminated Tree

Aluminum Christmas trees came in variety of sizes and colors. The sizes varied from a two-foot miniature to an eight-foot deluxe. The eight-foot model did not sell well, because very few homes had ceilings higher than eight feet. Silver was the most common color, but other colors such as pink, gold, blue, and green were available as well. Regardless of the sizes and colors, aluminum Christmas trees simply consisted of a center pole and metal branches featuring shimmering foil needles. Aluminum branches were attached to the center pole that had pre-drilled holes at angles to form a tapered tree shape.

Center Pole and Branches

Due to fire safety concerns, electric light strings could not be used with aluminum Christmas trees. Rotating color wheels were used to illuminate them instead. A typical rotating color wheel featured a spotlight that had a rotating colored plastic wheel attached in front of it. The colored wheel consisted of three or four different color segments. The rotating color wheel was usually positioned under the tree, projecting an array of colored lights that reflected onto the aluminum branches. The effect of this color show was often further enhanced by using a rotating Christmas tree stand or turner.

Rotating Color Wheel

Lightweight glass or plastic ornaments were commonly used to decorate aluminum Christmas trees. The tinsels that made up the tree’s “needles” were thin and fragile. Therefore heavy ornaments could not be used on aluminum branches without tearing the tinsel.

Lightweight Christmas Ornaments

Today, vintage aluminum Christmas trees can be found on many sources, online auction such as eBay being the most common. Prices vary depending on the sizes (4’-6’ being most common) and colors (silver being most common). Needless to say, colored trees are more expensive and rare on the resale market. When you are shopping for a vintage aluminum Christmas tree, be sure that all of the branches are intact. Branches should be wrapped in the paper sleeves to prevent damages. It may be a good idea to ask the seller for a picture of the finished tree, so that you can see what the tree will look like when put together.

Branches in Sleeves

More on vintage aluminum Christmas tree:

* “Season’s Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree

* Aluminum Tree Museum

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree”

  1. MiD CeNtury GuYon 26 Dec 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I love that tree
    lol – I want one

  2. Ronni Rubinon 24 Mar 2013 at 8:08 pm

    So interesting to read “Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree”. My father, Leonard Rubin and
    his brother were the owners of Arandell Products Company, and I remember so well those
    aluminum trees, and putting one together with my dad in our living room. He then took a
    photo of me and the tree to use in their advertising brochure. Still have that photo today,
    taken so many years ago. Enjoyed reading your informative article, and glad that you
    finally have your very own “Silver Forest” tree from Arandell.

  3. adminon 24 Mar 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Ronni – thank you for posting a comment. I am so pround to have my very own “Silver Forest” tree from your father’s company! Putting my trees (I have found another aluminum Christmas tree since my post) up has become the highlight of my Christmas every year. I wish I could leave them out all year long 🙂

  4. Denise Ragsdaleon 12 Jan 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I just finally got all my inside Christmas decor packed up, with the last thing being my beautiful little 4 ft. Silver Forest Stainless Aluminum Christmas Tree by Arandell Products Company. I found it about 8 years ago in a little antique shop for 90$, but they let me buy it for 45$. I was born in 1958, and for all of my life until around 1971, my family had a 6 or 7 ft silver Christmas tree that we placed on a table that was about 12- 14 inches tall , so it towered over our little living room. It had a color wheel that we shined on the tree with a little button on it that when pushed, played Silent Night. When I think of my childhood Christmas’s, my thoughts immediately go to the beautiful silver tree that would oversee Santa Claus bringing all the magical toys on many a Christmas morning in a tiny little town in Mississippi! God Bless Us Everyone!

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