Vintage Silver Forest aluminum Christmas tree, $10.

Vintage Aluminum Christmas trees from the 1950s and 1960s are a great example of the 'fringe collectors' that so few people are aware of. Who'd ever think that there was a small group of people who are after those old artificial aluminum Christmas trees, as well as their ornaments, color wheels and stands?

As it turns out, old aluminum Christmas trees like this Silver Forest often sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay, and some even pass the $1000 mark. Is that enough reason to keep an eye out for them? Here's some helpful information that should make your search a little easier.

Artificial Christmas trees have been with us for quite a while, and they've been manufactured in all different colors - white, gold, green, pink, silver and who knows what else. They've also been made from different materials like aluminum, paper, plastic and wood. It appears that collectors prefer trees that are silver in color, and made from aluminum. Pink is the exception here, because few trees were made in pink, and they command really good prices today.

As far as height goes, the sweet spot for these old trees seems to be around 7 to 7 1/2 feet. This may be because it's about the tallest tree that most folks can fit under the average 8-foot ceiling. Trees may tend to lose some value as they stray shorter than 7 feet in height, and whereas taller examples may be worth even more than the 7-footers, they're not very common.

Another subject of interest is the number of branches. In general, the more branches a tree has, the better the quality and the more it's worth. The tree in our example has a rather meager 93 branches, but some trees were made with 150 - or even 200 - branches. These branches were generally stored in long paper sleeves, so if you see a bunch of loose branches just stuffed into a box, it's possible that something your bidders will be looking for is missing.

Other brands of these aluminum artificial Christmas trees you're likely to run across are like Revlis, Evergleam, Silverline and Peco.

The box, as well as the tree's stand, can add greatly to the value of the package. Unlike so many of the older items we see hanging around since the 1950s, old artificial Christmas trees that are still in their original boxes are not really uncommon finds. Think about it - unlike most things you buy in a box, a Christmas tree spends its whole life stored away, only to be brought out for display a few weeks out of the year. Then, it's back into the box and into storage until next year. This is why these old trees are often found right inside their original boxes.

A final point to note here is that these vintage trees often came with a tree stand that was packed right into the box. Like so many of these old stands, the one shown here with our Silver Forest tree was actually made from rather chintzy cardboard. No matter, though, because the people who collect these old trees want everything to be as original as possible, no matter how cheesy it may look to us non-collector folks!

So, there you have it! A perfect example of how that little bit of 'fringe collector' knowledge that's tucked away into the back of your mind can make you a bunch of money when you least expect it.

Photo of vintage Silver Forest aluminum Christmas tree