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Vintage Aluminum Christmas Trees From the 1960s

Glenn enjoys collecting amazing vintage items. It's a fun and educational way to relive the joys of the past!

These trees are dazzling to behold! This one is decorated with mercury glass balls in red, blue, gold, and green.

These trees are dazzling to behold! This one is decorated with mercury glass balls in red, blue, gold, and green.

Make Your Holidays Sparkle With a Silver Aluminum Christmas Tree

Christmas with an aluminum tree is a magical, silver Christmas. These shiny spectacles of joy are fun to collect and use year after year. Complete your tree display with a vintage color wheel, and you will have a holiday memory in the making.

Pom Pom Trees and Silver-Bright Sparklers

The aluminum Christmas tree is better known by its brand names, like Silver-Bright Sparkler or Pom Pom, or its nickname, "the modern Space-Age Xmas tree." It was the tree everyone wanted back in the good old days of the early 1960s.

This metal tree was symbolic of the futurist Space Age, and nothing said "Christmas" like high-luster aluminum. It is not really a vintage Eames-era Christmas without a Mad Men-esque aluminum tree. This tree became the holiday poster boy and the masterpiece of the modern '60s Xmas.

The first aluminum Christmas tree came out in 1959. Have a bit of tinsel, baby!

The first aluminum Christmas tree came out in 1959. Have a bit of tinsel, baby!

History of Aluminum Xmas Trees

Modern Coatings, Inc. in Chicago made the first commercially manufactured aluminum tree sometime around 1955. Two of the very first aluminum Christmas trees—the Pom Pom and the Ever-Gleam—were made in 1959 just before the Christmas season. These were manufactured by the Star Band Company in Portsmouth, Virginia, and the Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in the United States of America.

Soon after these first three companies' aluminum Christmas trees appeared on the market, there were many other manufacturers who went into business and adopted the style of these trees.

There are so many options for these trees. You can have Pom Pom or standard limbs, and they come in sizes from mini, small, and medium to large and extra large.

There are so many options for these trees. You can have Pom Pom or standard limbs, and they come in sizes from mini, small, and medium to large and extra large.

Rise and Fall of Popularity

The aluminum Christmas tree became extremely popular and was sought after by the public in the early and mid 1960s. These trees remained top sellers on the market until the mid 1970s, but they were phased out by the bicentennial year of 1976 when more traditional trees became popular.

Color Options

Originally, the trees' predominant color was silver. These trees were dazzling to behold; they were a sparkling, breathtaking symbol of the Space Age, reflecting bright points of light off their silvery, shimmering branches. However, in the late 1960s, pink, purple, gold, green, red, and a whole gallery of other colors became available. Even the famous Sparkler or Pom Pom Tree was later manufactured in other shades, such as blue, pink, green, and red.

Where Can You Find Aluminum Trees Today?

Vintage aluminum Christmas trees are still very easy to find these days, since they are remarkably well-made. Many can be found on eBay and on other vintage sites across the internet. They can also be found in antique stores during the holidays, ready to be unboxed for a new Christmas.

This is an example of an Ever-Gleam tree manufactured by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It's 7 feet tall and has 100 branches!

This is an example of an Ever-Gleam tree manufactured by the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It's 7 feet tall and has 100 branches!

Famous Manufacturers and Tree Types

Often, folks think of aluminum trees as "1950s Christmas trees." But the truth is that most of the aluminum trees were manufactured in the early 1960s.

Aluminum Specialty Company: Ever-Gleam Trees

One of the first well-known aluminum brands was manufactured in the year 1959 and was called the Ever-Gleam Tree. These were the first to reach the large department stores of the Midwest. The Ever-Gleam Trees were made in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the world-famous Aluminum Specialty Company, which was already well-established in many retail stores with its kitchen products.

Star Band Company: Silver-Bright Pom Pom Trees

Another brand that soon followed the Ever-Gleam was the Silver-Bright Pom Pom Tree, which had pom-poms on the ends of the branches (making the trees look a bit like cheerleaders). They are also called Sparklers. These trees were made by the Star Band Company in Portsmouth, Virginia, and they became popular in department stores located in the Southeast and the East Coast.

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Here's the amazing 1960 Silver-Bright Pom Pom Tree (in front of some equally amazing 1960s window draperies).

Here's the amazing 1960 Silver-Bright Pom Pom Tree (in front of some equally amazing 1960s window draperies).

The Pom Pom Tree was (and is) very popular.

The Pom Pom Tree was (and is) very popular.

More About the Pom Pom Trees

Many trees in the Southeast then and now are the Pom Pom brand. These trees are wider and larger than most. The Star Band Company made these trees in sizes from 2 feet to 12 feet high, and all of them are very wide and full, with 90 branches or more. The most popular size was the 6-foot tree.

These trees were made in the United States and sold all over North America—from Mexico to Canada—back in the early 1960s.

Here's a look inside the box of the 1960 Pom Pom Sparkler Christmas tree.

Here's a look inside the box of the 1960 Pom Pom Sparkler Christmas tree.

How Pom Pom Trees Were Packaged

As you can see in the photo above, the manufacturer paid a great deal of attention to keeping the branches safe. Each branch was packed in an individual wrapper inside the box.

These trees are dazzling, but remember that they're old! Decorate them gently with lightweight ornaments.

These trees are dazzling, but remember that they're old! Decorate them gently with lightweight ornaments.

How to Decorate a Silver Aluminum Tree

  • Be gentle. Remember that great care must be taken when decorating a delicate vintage aluminum tree. The metal rod branches of the tree are coated with layers of silver aluminum foil or woven aluminum, and this remarkable construction requires gentle handling.
  • Stick to lightweight ornaments. The decorations on these trees need to be very lightweight. You cannot decorate these trees with heavy ornaments like you would decorate a live tree or an artificial plastic tree. It would be good to have a nice collection of lightweight vintage mercury glass balls to decorate your aluminum tree.
  • Have fun with the color scheme. Some folks like to use just one color scheme, such as all blue or all red, but I prefer a mixed selection of colors on my trees. I like to use an assortment of balls with different sizes, shapes, and colors.
You can go with turquoise or lime-green bows, wrapping paper, and decorations to match. Or, if you are feeling blue, you can have a blue Christmas. With an aluminum tree, anything is possible.

You can go with turquoise or lime-green bows, wrapping paper, and decorations to match. Or, if you are feeling blue, you can have a blue Christmas. With an aluminum tree, anything is possible.

Warning: Never Use Christmas Lights on an Aluminum Tree

You cannot string Christmas lights on an aluminum Christmas tree. This could be a major fire hazard because the tree is not designed to handle electrical lights; after all, it's made of aluminum, which is a conductor of electricity! The branches are incredibly delicate and heavily layered with the aluminum. (Even if it was safe, you wouldn't want to string these trees with lights, anyway—it would just be very ugly.)

What to Use Instead of Lights: A Vintage Color Wheel

In the 1960s, a lot more holiday products were being made all over the United States. Popular products of the era included various decorations, glass ball ornaments, and color wheel lights, which you can see in the videos above and below.

These Wheels Offer a Whirl of Color and Sparkle

The beauty of aluminum trees is that they're naturally sparkly, but they become radiant when you place a color wheel at the base. With the right glass balls and decorations on the branches, these trees will enhance any room as they pick up the light and make the room shimmer with a dazzling brilliance.

See if you can obtain a well-made vintage color wheel, and place it on the floor behind or in front of the tree. When the color wheel spins, it will bring out the tree's natural—or should I say unnatural—colors, making you feel like you're back in the '60s again!

This is Grantley putting up our Splendor Stainless Aluminum Christmas Tree in our Man Cave upstairs. The tree was made in 1960 by R.O. Kent in New York, USA.

This is Grantley putting up our Splendor Stainless Aluminum Christmas Tree in our Man Cave upstairs. The tree was made in 1960 by R.O. Kent in New York, USA.

Lovers of Antiques Know That Vintage Aluminum Trees Are Special

Most lovers of fine antiques know there is something very special about vintage aluminum trees. I think of my grandmother every year when I put my tree up, and I admire the fact that she always kept it in pristine condition with its original box and paperwork. It was always incredible to me that she could get a 6-foot tree into a box the size of a bread box!

I have always cherished both the box and the tree, and I have kept every paper sleeve safe—just as my grandmother would always do every year. It is a family tradition.

Comments

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on February 25, 2019:

I love the first photograph.

Burke Mathes on August 28, 2014:

I had a seven foot tall silver pom pom Christmas tree it was beautiful, my wife sold it in a garage sell in the early 1980s. I wish I still had it, I hate dealing with a live tree, the water, and pine needles. It only took 15 minutes to put the Aluminum tree up, and take it down, very amazing.

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