Kim and Terry Kovel, Published December 26 2013
Kovels: Christmas décor among most popular collectibles
But the most popular holiday for collectors is Christmas. Families save tree ornaments, toppers, trim and lights, but it is harder to find a Christmas tree stand or fence.
Early commercial tree stands were made of cast iron. Three or more legs held a tube large enough for the trunk of a tree and had large screws that dug into the tree trunk. The designs for the iron legs were much like the patterns found on iron stove feet or garden benches.
The stands kept changing in style to match dominant furniture styles. By the 1920s, cone-shaped metal stands with lithographed tin pictures of Santa were popular. They resembled lithographed tin toys.
Some of these stands were electrified for lights or hid a mechanism that made the tree revolve. Noma, the American company that made strings of Christmas tree lights and developed the bubble light in 1945, had started making stands in about 1926.
By the 1960s, the Art Deco aluminum tree was popular, and stands with colored lights were made of shining metal to match. The most expensive antique stands are the early 1900 figural iron stands that look like a small Santa, a group of people or even reindeer. They sell for $200 to $750 each. Noma stands sell for about $200 to $300, and old aluminum stands with lights are $250 to $350. But beware. These have all been copied.
Q: I have a six-pack of 1955 Blatz Holiday flat-top beer cans. The pack has never been opened and it includes cans in all six colors. I think the cans, especially the pink and light blue, are valuable. What is the whole set worth?
A: There are many dedicated collectors of old and rare beer cans. Some would be eager to buy your rare set of 1955 Blatz holiday steel cans. In addition to light blue and pink, the set included green, chartreuse, dark blue and orange cans.
Beer, previously sold in bottles, was first sold in cans in 1934. The cans were made of steel until 1958, when aluminum cans were introduced. Blatz Brewery opened in Milwaukee in 1846 and continued to operate under various owners until 1958, when it was sold to Pabst.
The brand name is owned by Pabst today, too, but the original Blatz brewery has been converted to condos. We have seen a single green 1955 Blatz holiday sell for more than $250, so your complete set could top $1,000. To sell your cans, do some research and find the right market. Contact experts at the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA.com) and at Breweriana.com.
Q: I have a 6-foot-tall silver metallic Christmas tree that’s at least 50 years old. Does it have any value? Should I sell it?
A: Aluminum Christmas trees were popular in the 1960s. The first ones were made by the Aluminum Specialty Co. of Manitowoc, Wis., in 1959. The trees have wire branches wrapped with aluminum strips to represent “needles.”
Early trees had collapsible tripod bases. Later, revolving bases were made, some with music. The trees came in various sizes and colors, but silver was the most popular. Since lights couldn’t be put on aluminum trees, most people used a lighted revolving color wheel at the base of the tree. Millions of aluminum trees were made in the 1960s by several manufacturers.
They went out of fashion by the end of the decade and could be picked up at garage sales for just a few dollars. Reproduction and new aluminum trees are being made. Collectors have recently become interested in the old aluminum trees, and prices have risen. Some sell for over $100. If you like the tree, you may just want to keep it and display it during the holidays.
Tip: Store fragile Christmas tree ornaments in plastic zip-lock bags. Be sure there is some air in each bag when you zip it. The air bubble protects like bubble wrap.
For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, www.kovels.com.
Kim and Terry Kovel answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.