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Published on : Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Vintage silver, pink, gold and green aluminum trees spotlighted to sparkle, along with accessories such as rotating tree stands and colored light projectors, are on view this holiday season at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in an exhibition of the largest collection of Evergleams ever available to the public. ’tis the Season, on exhibit November 26, 2013 through January 11, 2014, welcomes visitors to stroll the Evergleams and explore their origin and development by Wisconsin’s Aluminum Specialty Company.
Even though it’s been over 50 years since the Evergleam aluminum Christmas tree burst on to the holiday decorating scene, today’s retro, Mad Men inspired nostalgia is renewing popular interest in the strikingly different holiday tradition. The Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin made the Evergleam tree, by far the most popular brand in a crowded marketplace. More than one million Evergleams, in a variety of colors and sizes, made their way to American homes in the 1960s.
Aluminum Specialty stopped making the trees in the early 1970s, but many of their trees remained integral to family Christmas traditions. Today the space-age era trees are in high demand at antique stores throughout Wisconsin and online auctions command substantial prices.
Success, however, came with scorn by critics who proclaimed aluminum trees symbols of the commercialization of Christmas. In the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Lucy wanted “the biggest aluminum tree [Charlie Brown] could find, maybe even painted pink.” Charlie ultimately selected a real, but skimpy tree because it better reflected his view of the true spirit of Christmas. Today, “The pink trees are the holy grail” says ’tis the season curator Joe Kapler who continually grows the museums collection. Kapler has not seem one surface on the market since 2005.
“The aluminum Christmas tree is a huge Wisconsin story” says Kapler. “It’s about a Wisconsin manufacturer creating a national design trend and becoming a breakthrough success. What started as a space-age departure from tradition is ironically, an evoker of nostalgic Christmas memories.” ‘Tis the season to welcome the holiday in all its ever gleaming wonder at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on Madison’s Capitol Square.