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ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
1921-1929

The Roaring Twenties
Page 4

 

Date Manufacturer Notes Outside of
Box
Inside of
Box
1928 NOMA

This is NOMA's number 190 battery outfit, shown in the first catalog the company published. The set was offered with either 3 1/2 volt lamps for use with a dry cell battery, or with 6 volt lamps for use with a radio or automobile battery. This is a very hard outfit to find. The sockets are made of wood, and the set is parallel wired. Also shown here is the listing from NOMA's original catalog.

1928

NOMA/Propp

This outfit can be found with both blue and green (pictured below) box covers. An unbranded outfit first produced in 1928 by NOMA/Propp, the blue cover boxes are usually found with lamps of Japanese manufacture, simply marked "tungsten".. The blue box was an effort to use up huge amounts of the materials NOMA acquired in the 1928 merger with Propp, and is the earliest of the two types. 

ca 1928

Real Lite

One of the prettiest boxes of its time, this set by Real Lite features early outside painted C-9 intermediate based lamps. This box style was also used for C-6 miniature based outfits as well. Sometime after about 1929, the company was purchased by NOMA, who continued to use the Real Lite name.
1928 NILCO The Novelty Incandescent Lighting Company sold these lights in an almost identical box to the one that Real Lite used (above). The two companies were not related, but did buy their boxes from the same printing company. NILCO made their own lamps and strings, and both are marked with the company name. For more on NILCO, click HERE. Sorry; we do not have a big version of this photo. Sorry; we do not have a big version of this photo.
ca 1928

NOMA

This charming little automobile wreath was offered in NOMA's first catalog, but disappeared from subsequent issues. The instructions say to power it from the tail light, stop light or dome light socket. The connector has a typical automobile type bayonet base. Note the original price tag, marked 85¢. Sorry; we do not have a big version of this photo. Sorry; we do not have a big version of this photo.

ca 1928

Unknown

This set is often attributed to a company called I.C. Young, but that company was a folding box manufacturer, not a decorative lighting company. This 1928 issue is actually an unbranded generic outfit, made to be sold cheaply, usually with less expensive lamps. Many of these sets exist to this day.

Circa 1928, here is a very interesting indoor lighting set from Gacor, a small appliance and electrical novelty company. Utilizing eight intermediate base C-9 lamps wired in pairs and called a "Multiple Twinkle Set", the outfit has a control box (pictured below, third image from the left) that randomly flashes each of the four pairs of lights. This is the first outfit on the market that would allow a true "twinkling" effect, as other twinkling lights of the period flashed the entire string on and off at once. The set was offered first in 1922 using miniature base C-6 lamps, and later in 1928 with the intermediate base C-9 lamps as shown below. When the candelabra base lights came out in 1934, Gacor offered a set featuring those lamps as well. All three types of outfits were sold through about 1936, when the effects of the Depression made the $6.00 sets too expensive to sell. The price for the set is printed on the inner flap of the box as pictured below and to the far right.

The control box has a red switch that allows the lights to either randomly twinkle or burn steadily, and uses a simple bi-metallic system to flash the lights. This system has two strips of different metals wired into each pair of light strings. As current passes through these strips, one of them heats up a bit and curls away, breaking the circuit. It cools again almost instantly, again closing the circuit and lighting the lamps, and the cycle then repeats for as long as power is applied. Different lengths of wire for each socket allow the lights to be easily distributed about the tree for the most pleasing effect. It is unusual for C-9 intermediate base lamps to be specified for indoor use, as they were invented specifically to be durable and weatherproof outside, but this outfit is decidedly not weatherproof and could not safely be used outdoors. The system is quite ingenious and well made, and really produces a nice effect on the Christmas tree. Note the unusual metal sockets in the set as shown in the picture below.


Outside of box

Inside box

Twinkle Control

Metal Sockets


Inner flap, showing $6.00 price

ca 1929

NOMA/Propp

The green NOMA/Propp boxes most often contained Japanese lamps, and many are so marked. Similar boxes can be found with no indication of lamp type marked at all. This set was a "loss leader", offered inexpensively. The green boxes are always of much thinner construction than are the blue boxes (pictured above).
ca 1929 NOMA While this NOMA box cover bears a 1927 copyright date, its use began in 1929. This box is an example of the less colorful NOMA outfits produced during the Depression years. (Compare to the full color version shown at the left.) Additionally, the outfit bears advertising on the bottom of the box as well, unusual for any lighting company.
ca 1929 Real Lite/NOMA

By the time this set was sold, NOMA had purchased the manufacturer, but was still selling the set in its original box. NOMA soon changed over to their own boxes, but kept the Realite name for use with its imported outfits. This outfit specifies the use of Japanese lamps, and is equipped with colorful "snow tip" lamps that are painted in two different colors, fading into each other.

ca 1929 Reliance

The string is an example of the use of Bakelite sockets. The earliest Bakelite sockets were mottled with red and green, while later examples are usually solid brown or black in color.

ca 1929 ClemCo This is ClemCo's earliest C-9 outdoor outfit, and is a difficult box to find. The light string sold with this set has a brand name of Meteor, and is a high quality Underwriter's listed cord which was equipped with the more expensive General Electric Mazda inside colored lamps and clips for positioning the lights
ca 1929 Thomas Imports

This outfit from Thomas Imports is quite typical of the late 1920s imported outfits. The lighting string is American made, while the C-6 miniature base lamps are of Japanese origin. Many varieties of sets like these were sold over the years, as a less expensive alternative to outfits totally of American manufacture.

ca 1929 Thomas Imports

Produced by Thomas Imports, or Timco, this outdoor set always came from the factory with imported C-9 intermediate base lamps. The light string on  this outfit is lacquered cotton, the earliest form of weatherproofing. As the string aged, the lacquer would harden and become stiff, making the set unusable. Storage in extremely warm places such as attics or garages added to the stiffening problem, and later outdoor sets would use rubber coated wires to alleviate this problem. This set remains quite flexible due to the fact that it was stored indoors and away from heat and humidity.


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