CLICK HERE FOR THE TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE AND LINKS TO ALL PAGES ON THIS SITE

TABLE OF CONTENTS       HISTORY       THE TIMELINE       MANUFACTURER'S HISTORIES       THE PATENT PAGES      

  THE PRE-ELECTRIC ERA      VINTAGE ADVERTISING         THE LIGHT SET GALLERIES         RELATED LINKS        

  FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

LIGHTING OUTFITS: 1930-1940

By the time this decade began, Americans were beginning to feel the full effects of the stock market crash of 1929. The majority of the population had little or no money for unnecessary luxuries such as Christmas lights, so they either went without or made their older outfits last a few years longer. Many of the light sets pictured in the previous category were also sold during the early 30's, and because of this it can be difficult for the collector to accurately date some outfits. At the bottom of this page you'll find a few clues and hints to make it easier to date your collection.

 

In addition to the information in this section, you can CLICK HERE to learn more about the beautiful and highly collected Matchless Wonder Stars!

 

White Matchless Star Tree owned by Jim SlossMatchless Star Tree owned by Jim SlossOne of the more interesting developments in Christmas lighting came from this decade. Matchless  Stars, beautiful, solid glass ornaments surrounding a brighter than  normal lamp, were introduced to the market in about 1932 by the Matchless Electric Company. The Stars were made in seven sizes, ranging from 1-15/16" to 3-1/8". Sold in sets of eight or ten or singly from countertop boxes like the example below, the lamps were made for either series or parallel wired outfits. The lamps shown are single-row Stars, but double row  varieties were also offered. There was even a Star with a standard size light bulb base available, for use in wall lamps and other light fixtures. The glass points and center crystal of the units were imported from Czechoslovakia, and the Star was assembled in the United States. These lights are highly collectible today, and somewhat hard to find. Due to their somewhat high price and the economic conditions of the 30s, they were only moderate sellers. Later in this decade, the company issued Stars made of plastic instead of glass in an effort to reduce cost and increase sales, but the change had little effect. Production of Matchless Stars ceased in 1948.  It is interesting to note that these Stars were also used in pinball games in the 30s, as decorative bumper lights. To the right and left is pictured a wonderful 32 Star table top tree owned by fellow collector and friend Jim Sloss. Notice the many double Stars displayed on it. The mid 30s patent drawing for these lights is shown on the Patent Reference pages of this site. CLICK HERE to learn more about the history of the Stars.

 

Matchless outside.jpg (77103 bytes) Matchless closeup.jpg (58763 bytes) Matchless Stars inside.jpg (82183 bytes) Frosted Matchless Star.jpg (23771 bytes) Opalescent Center Star owned by Chris Kocsis Large Double Matchless Star owned by Chris Kocsis
A Countertop Box of Single Stars Close-up view Inside of Box An Extremely Rare Frosted Double Star from the Chris Kocsis Collection Scarce Opalescent Center Star from the Chris Kocsis Collection Beautiful Double Star from the Chris Kocsis Collection

 

In 1932, the Reliance Company came out with their own star tree lights known as Kristal Stars. Imported from Japan, the stars were made of painted and glitter covered tin, with colored glass star points. A clear miniature base lamp was located within the tin body, and when power was applied the tips lit up with a nice effect. The company also sold a larger version of the lights for use as a tree topper. The products were discontinued 1939, just before the War.
A typical box of Kristal Stars, circa 1933. This is a complete outfit, which includes the electrical cord.

Kristal Stars outside.jpg (43930 bytes)

An inside view of the above set, showing the stars.

Kristal Stars inside.jpg (49032 bytes)

Here is a box of 10 stars that were sold both individually and as as a box. 1932.

Kristal Star Replacements.jpg (34821 bytes)

Outside view of the box for a Kristal Star tree topper.

Kristal Topper outside.jpg (57210 bytes)

The tree topper itself. Several colors were available, all with replaceable lamps.

Kristal Topper inside.jpg (35814 bytes)

 

 

Pictured above is a Detector light set, another interesting development of the 30s. In an effort to make it easier to find a burned out bulb that was causing the entire string to go dark, NOMA offered this outfit with novel lamps that were filled with neon gas. When the regular filament in one of these lamps burnt out, the light string would still go dark but the failed lamp would glow bright orange, conveniently advertising its location. This is why the bulbs are painted only about three quarters of the way down from the top, leaving the base clear for the glowing gas to be seen. Note the prominent NRA symbol inside the box to the left, indicating that these lights were made sometime between 1932 and 1934. The disadvantage with this outfit was the cost, as the set sold for $2.60. Compare that to a regular outfit like the Pennant set pictured below which sold for only 39 cents during the same time.

Outside and inside views of a Pennant light set. Note the thin cardboard box with the permanently attached lid, a sure sign of 1930s manufacture.

 

 

1930-1940 continues...

NEXT

CLICK HERE FOR THE TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE AND LINKS TO ALL PAGES ON THIS SITE

TABLE OF CONTENTS       HISTORY       THE TIMELINE       MANUFACTURER'S HISTORIES       THE PATENT PAGES       

THE PRE-ELECTRIC ERA      VINTAGE ADVERTISING         THE LIGHT SET GALLERIES         RELATED LINKS         

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Note: This is an archive of the late Bill Nelson's "Antique Christmas Light" web site as it existed in 2001. Except for contact information, link updates, and some information that has been lost, we have attempted to keep the text and illustrations as Bill presented them. However, the original pages included much outdated HTML code and graphic conventions, so we have done a lot of work "behind the scenes" to bring you this archive. Consequently:

  • The original subject matter content and illustrations on the OldChristmasTreeLights.com™ product description pages are Copyright (c) 2001 by Bill Nelson.
  • All updated HTML code, editorial comments, and reformatted illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2013, 1014 by Paul D. Race.
Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.

OldChristmasTreeLights™ and FamilyChristmasOnline™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications™ (www.btcomm.com).


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