I was “discussing” the month of December with a friend on Twitter the other day. She was wishing for a hasty finish so we could move on to January. If she had her way, we would just skip Christmas and move on to the mundane months of winter. Skip Christmas? In my opinion, it’s the best time of the year.
In this instance however, my friend was explaining to me that she was “modern and unique” because she didn’t have a Christmas tree. Not quite understanding how this made one “modern and unique” and not just rebellious, anti-hope, love, joy and peace. I mentioned that if she wanted to be truly modern (retro) and unique she should consider a Christmas tree of the aluminum variety.
She promptly told me she wasn’t (gasp)…that tacky.
I don’t know how anyone could call this standard of retro, mid-century holiday kitsch, tacky. Aluminum trees are beautiful reminders of time when American astronauts walked on the moon and everyone thought they would be living like The Jetsons by the turn of the century. It was a time when your Christmas tree was a testament to your connection to everything space-agey and cool. (Ironically, the Jetsons had a real tree.)
I did a little research for those of you who, like me, appreciate this type of holiday trim, and found out that the Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin was the first to manufacture the aluminum tree. It was called the “Evergleam” (of course). It is estimated that this company made more than four million trees in a 10-year period between 1959 and 1969 and they came in silver (most popular), red, blue, gold, green and the most rare and now, most expensive, pink.
The trees were made of a central wooden pole that the branches attached to. Each branch had aluminum “needles” woven into it. Because putting electric lights on the tree would cause a short circuit or electric shock (awesome!) manufacturers sold rotating wheels of colored lights. If you were really cool, your tree would rotate too.
Today aluminum Christmas trees are collector’s items and vintage trees can be found on Ebay or through a number of e-sellers like YuleTide Expressions. Trees range in price from $19.99 for a used tree to over $800 for new one.
Ok, so this would never replace my beloved live tree but I think these trees are beautiful in their own 1960’s way. In the right setting, like this mid-century modern, it would seem right at home.