Aluminum Christmas trees had a short, but dazzling, run. In 1958, a toy sales manager saw a metal tree in a store window and brought back the idea to his company, Aluminum Specialty Company, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The company worked to develop a light, cheap aluminum tree they dubbed “Evergleam” in time for Christmas in 1959.

vintage aluminum tree advertisement
During the 1960s, companies sold color wheels alongside their aluminum trees, such as in this old advertisement.

History

The price point was $25, and the company produced several hundred trees with only a hunch that they would sell.

They did.

The trees were a huge success and had become a design trend by the early 1960s. They were available in various colors, including silver, green, yellow and pink. Homeowners often paired them with color wheels, which rotated to throw colored light onto the tree. Consumers liked them because they had an atomic, Space Age feel. They were clean, easy to deal with and generally “automated.”

A Charlie Brown Christmas tree
The sad little tree Charlie Brown picks out in the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas worked against the popularity of the aluminum tree.

Unfortunately, it was the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas that helped fuel the decline of aluminum trees. Despite Lucy’s instruction to Charlie Brown to “get the biggest aluminum tree you can find” and “Maybe paint it pink,” Charlie Brown buys the sad, but very real, tree, and doomed the popularity of aluminum trees.

By 1969, Evergleam had stopped producing their trees, and by the early 1970s, aluminum trees were virtually non-existent on the market. Not to mention, in the midst of their downfall, all company records were lost, including the story of how these space-age trees “sky-rocketed” into the public eye.

However, they’ve come back in style, appealing to vintage collectors, lovers of Mid Century Modern design and those who appreciate the long lifespan and low maintenance of artificial trees.

aluminum Christmas tree
The aluminum Christmas tree is back in style as a Christmas MCM collectible. Photo by Bret Gum.

Buying Tips

If you want to highlight your holiday decor with a vintage aluminum Christmas tree, here’s what you need to know before buying:

  1. Make sure the tree comes with paper sleeves to protect the branches during the rest of the year when it’s disassembled and packed up in storage.
  2. 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 expensive—a recent rare pink tree sold for over $3,000.
  3. Can’t find one at your favorite flea market or antique store? Check Etsy.com.
  4. There are lower-cost options available as well! The popularity of aluminum Christmas trees means that many quality reproductions are on the market.  We love these trees from Treetopia. But if your heart is set on a vintage tree, try a smaller size. Trees under 3′ can be displayed on table tops or mounted the wall as a nostalgic piece of holiday art.

And don’t forget to pick up a color wheel too. Some companies make them new, and you can get them as low as $35. But if you want an authentic vintage color wheel, they’ll be closer to $200. Look for pieces that come with their original box. They’ll probably be in better condition—the owner who preserved the box will likely have taken good care of the color wheel.

Mid Century Modern Malm fireplace decorated for Christmas with stockings and an aluminum Christmas tree.
Aluminum trees under three feet are perfect for tabletops or for mounting as wall decor. Styled by Jenny James. Photo by Jeremy Best

Where to Buy

Here are a couple of our favorite aluminum Christmas trees—some are reproductions, some are vintage! Either way, we think you’ll find one you love.

Atomic Ranch curates the best of Mid Century Modern Design to share with our readers. Some of the products you’ll see featured in this story are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, AR will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Aluminum Christmas trees with red ornaments.

#1. The Refashioned Fir

Similar to the Evergleam tree, this sapling is complete with the iconic shiny facade but with a more voluminous branch scheme. With this tree, your Christmas is sure to shine brighter than the North Star! Silver Tinsel Christmas Tree, $47.

vintage Aluminum Christmas trees

#2. A Vintage Tree And a Color Wheel!

This vintage silver aluminum tree comes with a color wheel and its original box! At only $270, this tree won’t last long. Vintage 6 ft Aluminum Tinsel Christmas Tree and Color Wheel, $270

An aluminum-colored Christmas tree with an array of purple, blue, and red ornaments.

#3. The O.G. Mid Mod Tree

With its sparse branches and classic tinsel finish, this vintage Christmas tree is the perfect choice for your mid mod living room! Genuine Aluminum Tree, $250.

aluminum christmas trees green vintage

#4. Really Retro + Gorgeously Green

This vintage green tree will be the showstopper of any space with its unique color. This tree comes in its original box. Vintage Peco Aluminum Christmas Tree, $225

aluminum christmas trees teal

#5. Tons of Teal

This bad boy comes in a beautiful blue hue, and it rotates! This lustrous tree is in great condition too. Vintage 1950s Teal Aluminum Tree, $899

aluminum christmas trees print

#6. Subtle Retro Vibes

Looking for just a touch of that aluminum Christmas tree feeling?  Check out this picture-perfect print from Etsy. Vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree Art Print, $6.99+

Looking for more Mid Century Christmas collectibles? Check out these bubble lights, Christmas cards and more.

And of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!