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vintage & retro Christmas collecting

Vintage retro aluminum Christmas trees -- kitsch or cool?


aluminum christmas trees
Are aluminum Christmas trees the ultimate in cool, or are they too kitsch to own?

A brief history of aluminum Christmas trees

Aluminum trees were first manufactured in 1958 by the Aluminum Specialty Company. The trees consisted of a center pole with holes drilled in at an angle, to which branches covered in aluminum "needles" were attached. By placing the branches in the holes, a tree shape is formed.

The trees were in common usage until the late 1960s when they fell out of favour. Today, however, they are once again becoming popular with collectors. While a basic silver tree can be had for a low price, the rarer colours can go for hundreds of dollars.

The colours of aluminum Christmas trees

revlis aluminum christmas trees

Aluminum trees come in many colours. The most common colour is silver, but one can also find gold, green (pictured right), blue, and pink.

Some companies even made blended colours like blue/silver, blue/green and green/silver which had two colours of aluminum needles on each branch. The blended colours are extremely rare.

Why use a colour wheel?

Due to safety concerns, the trees could not be strung with lights in the usual manner. Instead, illumination is provided with the use of a separate color wheel on the floor nearby. This wheel consisted of a rotating coloured disk through which light was projected. The coloured disks broke easily and are hard to find nowadays.

Do you need a tree turner?

Strictly, no, but I think it adds a lot to the display. A regular stationary stand would be fine if you have one, but having your aluminum Christmas tree rotate just looks cool. The nice thing about these trees (as opposed to a real tree) is that there is no "bad side", so why not show all sides of the tree?

How to assemble your aluminum Christmas tree

aluminum christmas trees

  1. If you have a taper tree, sort the branches by size. Most aluminum Christmas trees have branches which are all one length; if this is like yours, skip this step.
  2. Set up the stand. Those with rotating Christmas tree stands will want to ensure that the cord for their stand isn't out where someone can trip.
  3. Set up the center pole. Taller trees have a two or more part center pole. Just prong it together.
  4. Secure the center pole into the stand.
  5. Place branches into the holes on the center pole. Long branches go at the bottom. I suggest starting at the bottom and working your way up.
  6. Decorate the tree as desired. Vintage ornaments look great on vintage Christmas trees.
  7. Remember, no strings of lights on aluminum Christmas trees!
  8. Set up the colour wheel nearby.
  9. Happy holidays!

Where to find a vintage aluminum Christmas tree

Try any of the following:

Further reading

You might also enjoy the following book:

season's gleamings Season's Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree by John Shimon (Melcher Media, 2004): Aside from a brief history of the aluminum tree, this is a coffee table book. The tree photos are stunning, though, especially the "action" shots with the time-lapse tree turning running. If you love your aluminum Christmas tree (or just wish you had one), you will enjoy this.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto