Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page

Beyond the 50s...



During the years following the 1950 cutoff date of this web site, many new and innovative lighting outfits hit the market. The most significant of these, the "fairy" or miniature lights, debuted in the early 1950s and were to become the accepted form of Christmas lighting by the mid 1980s. They remain so to this day.

Another significant event had it's beginnings in December, 1958. Aluminum Specialty Company toy sales manager Tom Gannon had noticed a small, homemade all metal tree used as a display in a Ben Franklin Five and Dime store in Chicago, Illinois. He thought it was a wonderful idea, and presented it to his company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin right away. At the time, Manitowoc was known as the Aluminum Cookware Capital of the World, and  the company president thought that Tom's idea was a splendid one. The design department sprang into action, and by Christmas of 1959, they offered the very first all-aluminum Christmas tree to a somewhat confused public. After a surprisingly busy first year of sales, the idea really took off, and by 1960 The Aluminum Specialty company had perfected their flagship tree: The Evergleam. Although the company records and archives have long since been lost, several estimates put the factory output at four million trees during their 10 year production time from 1959 to 1969.


The company never advertised their tree as artificial, but rather insisted that their offering was simply a "Permanent Tree".  It had a sliver painted wooden trunk with a multitude of holes drilled in it at increasing angles, so that when each of the hand made branches of the same size was inserted into them, they would perch upwards, forming the traditional tree shape. Equipped with a simple aluminum tripod style stand, the trees were easy to set up and certainly caught one's eye.

As is almost always true with a successful product, imitators soon jumped on the bandwagon, and the market was flooded with a huge variety of aluminum wonders, not only in the original silver color, but now in gold, green, blue, a blue and green combination, a silver with blue tips and even pink!


Due to the extreme danger of using electric lights on the highly-conductive aluminum branches, rotating multicolored floodlights, called color wheels, were sold to illuminate the trees.  A huge variety of these wheels were offered by all of the Christmas lighting and decoration companies.

Trees were offered for sale by most of the major Christmas lighting companies as well, including NOMA, Paramount and TIMCO. The heights of the silvery wonders ranged for a tiny one foot table top tree up to a 7 foot monster. There were even half trees produced for wall mounting in offices and stores. The variety was seemingly endless. Along with The Aluminum Specialty Company, other companies offering the glittery wonders included Star Brand Company in Portsmouth, Virginia, Regal Electronics in Chicago, Illinois, and Fairyland Trees in California.



(Click to enlarge picture)    Website visitor Anna Bates shares this picture and memories of her mother with us. Referring to their first aluminum Christmas tree, Anna writes: "I still remember when Mom brought that thing home in a big cardboard box.  Permanent tree!  When she pulled out that painted silver pole, we laughed so hard we cried.  Later that night we all stood in the living room for the ritual of turning on the color wheel for the first time.  We stood there in amazement watching the tree turn red, yellow --- then when blue came around a hushed "oooooooh" from all of us.  She was so proud of that thing.  In this picture, she is sitting next to her tree, wearing a matching aluminum corsage, strappy sandals, huge rhinestone earrings to accentuate her dyed red hair.  I loved her so much.  And to think I thought all that stuff was tacky when I was a teenager! Her name was Nora Bates, and she died from complications of Alzheimer's disease in April 2003."


But, just as quickly as their popularity soared, public interest in the trees started to fade, due in a major part to a popular television cartoon. The trees would soon be declared a symbol of the crass commercialism of Christmas, when, in December of 1965, the first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas appeared on CBS. The American public seemed to take to heart the refusal of Charlie Brown to buy as his symbol of the Yuletide season "the biggest aluminum tree he could find, maybe even painted pink". As early as 1968, most companies no longer listed them in their catalogs.

Today, collectors will pay a high price for some of the less common trees, especially in the colors other than silver. The average selling price for a vintage silver-colored aluminum tree in good condition is about $15 per foot of height. Expect to pay a premium price for a pink tree, the rarest of all of the colors offered. Trees of any color that are especially full, or have the pom-pom branch ends will also command a premium price. In December, 2000 reproduction trees appeared on the market, and were surprisingly good sellers. Expect to see more of them offered in future years.

Table of Contents

Meanwhile, on the Christmas Lighting Scene

Click to go to Jeff's onlineChristmas Lighting Guide CollectionIncandescent lights continued to rule on the non-aluminum trees of course. But just selling lights for trees wasn't good enough for GE. In the 1950s, and through much of the 1970s, they started including pamphlets describing OTHER decorating projects to do with their light strands. Jeff Carter's online Christmas Lighting Guide Collection at Flickr, shows several examples, some of which are as memorable for the silliness of their suggestions as for their originality.  

Note: OldChristmasTreeLights? and FamilyChristmasOnline? are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications? (
The original subject matter content and illustrations on the product description pages are Copyright (c) 2001, 2008 by Bill and George Nelson.
All updated HTML code, editorial comments, and reformatted illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2013, 1014 by Paul D. Race.
Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
Old Christmas Tree Lights(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For more information, please contact us.

Click to see sturdy Lionel(r) trains that are perfect for your Christmas tree.

Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page
Jump to the OldChristmasTreeLights Discussion Forum
Visit our affiliated sites:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Visit Papa Ted Althof's extensive history and collection of putz houses, the largest and most complete such resource on the Internet.. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Craft and collectibles blog with local news of Croton NY.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments
- Music -
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page
Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads
Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
Visit Lionel Trains. Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.

Click to trains that commemorate your team!