Aluminum Christmas Trees Again and Again

1959 Prototype Evergleam® packaging design
(from our collection) displayed in vitrine at
Wisconsin Historical Museum
"'Tis the Season" exhibition, December 2013
Little Evergleam's in vitrine with a few of our 
Season's Gleamings photographs in the background at
Wisconsin Historical Museum
"'Tis the Season" exhibition, December 2013
It's been nearly 10 years since our book Season's Gleamings: The Art of the Aluminum Christmas Tree (Melcher, NY, 2004) hit the streets. Our research into the history of the aluminum Christmas tree's manufacture in Manitowoc, Wisconsin culminated in that book. The trees were cheap and abundant at estate and rummage sales, thrift shops, and antiques stores 20 years ago. Folks in town generally thought they were hideous except for one man--Richard Thomsen. Our downtown gallery/storefront installation attracted media attention and helped Richard Thomsen find us. He loved the trees and knew their history. We gathered enough information to cobble together a history for Al Hoff's Thrift Score zine in 1997 and Metropolis magazine in 1998 with the mystic help of David Brown and Paul Lukas. For us, the trees transcended their status as holiday decor items instead working as a brilliant exercise in design making for a sublime viewing experience when displayed unadored en masse. Media interest escalated with each passing year peaking with the release of our book in 2004 and the national press coverage it generated from The New York Times to CBS Sunday Morning. When Joe Kapler, Curator of Domestic Life at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, expressed interest in the trees a few years ago, we enthusiastically handed him the mantle of aluminum tree historian. We even donated a prime prototype specimen (pictured above) from our collection. We watch with fascination as Joe enshrined the Manitowoc-made Evergleam in the official history of Wisconsin through various exhibitions. He recently assembled an exhibition titled 'Tis the Season (on view November 26, 2013-January 11, 2014) at the Wisconsin Hisorical Museum on the Square in Madison. Here's a sampling of the media documentation of the show posted in December 2013:

"Evergleam Trees on Display" by Mark Koehn and Susan Simon for WISC TV
"Aluminum Trees Back in Spotlight" video by Carrie Antlfinger for AP
"Wisconsin Museum Highlights Aluminum Trees" video by Rob Duns for WAOW TV
"Remember Aluminum Trees?" by Susan Bence for WUWM radio
"Wisconsin's Aluminum Christmas Tree Legacy" by Cathy Wurzer for WMPR radio 
by Meg Jones for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
by Lindsay Christian for The Cap Times

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