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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

The Bubble Light Identification Page

Use the chart on this page to easily identify and date your bubbling lights. You will also be able to see how rare or common your bubbler is. Although only one base size is shown for each light, remember that many lights were offered in both miniature and candelabra base sizes. All pictures are presented in the approximate order of their appearance on the market, and are clickable to enlarge. Notes about many of the varieties shown are both linked and listed alphabetically below the table of pictures.

 

Bubble 1946 NOMA Biscuit.jpg (28524 bytes) Bubble 1948 Paramount Oil.jpg (40749 bytes) Bubble 1948 Paramount Standard.jpg (28749 bytes) Royal Biscuit.jpg (39982 bytes) Noma Saucer.jpg (44906 bytes)
NOMA Biscuit

1946-1962

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Paramount Oil

1947-1948

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

Paramount Saucer

1948-1955

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Royal Biscuit

1947-1956

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

NOMA Saucer

1947-1948

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Shooting Star White.jpg (33546 bytes) Peerless Bubbler.jpg (36120 bytes) Reliance Spark-L-Lite.jpg (43081 bytes) Renown Bubbler.jpg (25542 bytes) USALITE Bubbler.jpg (26226 bytes)
Peerless Shooting Star

1947-1948

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

Peerless Regular

1949-1955

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Reliance Spark-L-Lite

1948-1951

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Renown Biscuit

1948-1957

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

USALITE  Biscuit

1949-1958 1973-1978

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Paremount Biscuit.jpg (37858 bytes) NOMA Snap On.jpg (55757 bytes) Bubble Santa.jpg (12512 bytes)Bubble Snowman.jpg (10511 bytes) NOMA Tulip.jpg (46573 bytes) Royal Crown bubbler.jpg (14978 bytes)
Paramount Biscuit

1956-1972

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

NOMA Snap-On

1949-1950

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Royal Bubbling Figures

1948-1965

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

NOMA Tulip

1948-1960

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Royal Crown

1948-1955

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Peerless 3.jpg (17858 bytes) Peerless Shooter 2.jpg (17444 bytes) Paramount Tulip.jpg (41168 bytes) NOMA Rocket.jpg (32004 bytes) Holly Bubbler.jpg (36371 bytes)
Peerless

1948-1963

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

Peerless Shooting Star

1947-1948

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

Paramount Tulip

1955-1972

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

NOMA Rocket

1961-1962

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

Holly

1957-1974

COMMON

(CLICK for notes)

World Wide.jpg (39752 bytes) USALITE candelabra bubbler.jpg (34433 bytes) ALPS Bubbler.jpg (35250 bytes) Seda Snap-On Bubblelight.jpg (74174 bytes)
World Wide

1973-1979

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

 

USALITE

1949-1958 1973-1978

UNCOMMON

(CLICK for notes)

 

ClemCo Snap-On

1949-1951

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

 

ALPS

circa 1948-1949

RARE

(CLICK for notes) 

 

SEDA Snap-On

1950-1951

RARE

(CLICK for notes)

 

INTERESTING NOTES ABOUT SOME OF THE BUBBLE LIGHTS

ALPS- This company was a Japanese manufacturer, and their bubble light was most uncommon. Instead of using a plastic base like the other makers, the ALPS product was actually an outside-painted figural lamp with a bubble tube attached to the top. This arrangement did not prove to be very effective, as the lights gave poor service life, and the heat transfer between the figural lamp and the bubble tube was quite poor. In addition, the bubbling tube was simply glued to the top of the base, which made the configuration quite delicate. My personal belief is that ALPS purchased at least some of their bubbling tubes from the NOMA company, as several examples in my collection have the glass slug within the tubes, a feature exclusive to NOMA products. After production of these lights ceased, the glass bases continued to be offered as figural lights, and apparently NOMA bought back their bubble tubes, as I have found a few NOMA bubblers with the typical flared bottom bubbling tubes that were apparently made for the ALPS lights. Exact production dates for the lights is not known, but it must have been a very short time. Despite the poor quality and inexpensive appearance of these lights, they are highly desired by collectors and are considered by most to be the rarest of all known bubbling lights. The ALPS Company also issued the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs figural light set, along with toys and mechanical Christmas, Space and Fantasy themed battery operated figures during the late 1940s and 50s, and into the early 1960s. (BACK to picture)     ALPS UPDATE: Lately, there has been quite a bit of discussion about some possibly fake ALPS bubble lights appearing on the market, especially on some of the internet auction sites. There seem to be two variations of the ALPS bubblers available, examples of surface mounted tubes like I describe above and also examples of "socket mounted" bubblers whereby the bubble tube is inset into the glass base by about 1/4" or so. There are those who believe that the surface-glued examples are not original, but have been "manufactured" by unscrupulous individuals. The two I have are in their original box, and came from a garage sale a while back. This would lead me to believe that they are in fact originals, as I would find it unusual for faked lights to be sold at a garage sale for $1.00 rather than on eBay or through some other venue that would have some more exposure. This is not to say that the bubblers still could not have been faked and somehow ended up at the garage sale, as anything is possible. Here are pictures of the inside and outside of the box- (click to enlarge);

Alps outside.jpg (21810 bytes)          Alps inside.jpg (26006 bytes)

The lights in my collection have flared bottomed bubble tubes surface-glued to a small, circular indentation at the top center of the glass base. Some collectors describe theirs the same as mine, while others describe their lights as having the tube inset into a 1/4" indentation with no flair on the tube. Assuming that both bubbler variations are indeed genuine, it would seem logical to me that the examples that are surface-glued could be early versions, ones that proved unsuccessful due to the delicate nature of the surface-applied tubes and the distance from the light filament. Others could be the "new and improved version," with the tube both more securely attached and closer to the light filament as well. This would also explain the availability of the figural lights without the tubes being sold later, to get rid of leftover stock. Here is a picture of the flared tube separated from the base and a close-up of the top of the Alps base itself:

flared tube.jpg (17800 bytes)          Alps top.jpg (26522 bytes)

There is no documentation on the ALPS company that I have been able to discover, as they apparently were an exporting company that offered Christmas lighting products for only a short time.  I welcome other opinions and any help other collectors can provide about this most interesting subject! All updates and any additional information will be posted here, and a link to this section appears at the bottom of  the Home Page for easy reference.

ClemCo Snap-On- Made for only three years, these very hard to find lights were extremely susceptible to heat damage and were often discarded. The plastic would distort so badly that the unit would no longer clamp over the lamp. (BACK to picture)

Holly These lights were made of a very heavy-duty and extremely heat resistant plastic that was thicker than the plastic of any other maker. The handy tree clips were an integral part of each bubbling lamp. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Biscuit- The first bubbling light sold to the public, and the most common of all. There are slight production variations available to serious collectors, but most commonly found are the post 1950 bubblers that have no glass slug in the bubbling tube. A true classic, which all other companies tried to imitate, with varying results. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Rocket- Manufactured for only two years (1961 and 1962), NOMA briefly tried to take advantage of the population's rising interest in the American space program of that time. The plastic was quite susceptible to the high temperatures of the light bulb that was used, and most often these examples will be found damaged due to heat distortion. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Saucer- For unknown reasons, NOMA briefly changed to this style of bubbling light in 1948. It soon became evident that the saucer shape was far too easily damaged by heat from the contained light bulb, and NOMA promptly switched back to their famous biscuit shape in 1949. The Company put their huge overstock of the saucer halves to good use, utilizing them in their Glow Lite candles as well as in their Tulip style parallel wired Bubble Lites. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Snap-On- This product was an effort to make a bubbling light that would snap over existing lights with either a C-6 or C-7 glass envelope size. Although an effective product, it suffered the fate of most of the early 1940s-1950s plastics-heat damage. The lights would warp to the point that the parts that clamped the unit to the light bulb would not stay together. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Tulip  This bubbler is NOMA's offering of a parallel wired candelabra base light, sold in sets so that if one or more lamps failed, it would not cause the entire string to go dark. The top half of the base of these lights is the saucer that was unsuccessfully used in the 1948 series wired bubbling lamps. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Biscuit- After NOMA lost their patents on the bubbling lights, Paramount offered their own style of biscuit bubbling light starting in 1950. Quite similar in shape to NOMA's bubblers, the lights continued to be manufactured virtually unchanged until 1972. Earlier offerings from Paramount were the saucer shaped lights also pictured and discussed on this page below. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Oil- The earliest bubbling lights sold by Raylite/Paramount were what the Company called Kristal Snow Animated Candles. The tubes of these bubblers contained oil instead of the methylene chloride used by NOMA, in an attempt to circumvent their patents. The first year's (1947) production if these lights used white rings instead of the clear rings on the plastic base, and the tubes themselves were a bit longer than what is shown above. Pictured is a 1948 light, with the shorter tube and a clear base ring. The oil used in these lights bubbles with a very fine bubbling action, and therefore large metallic flakes were added to the oil to enhance the effect. This fact makes it easy to determine whether or not your saucer type Paramount light is oil or methylene chloride. The oil lights are quite rare, and are highly sought by collectors. See also the note below about the Paramount Saucer lights. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Saucer- While the battle was raging between Raylite (Paramount) and NOMA over the bubble light patents, PARAMOUNT blatantly offered their own bubblers using methylene chloride, despite the fact that the court cases had not yet been settled. Once the case was finally decided, NOMA had lost and Paramount almost immediately offered their own biscuit-style bubbling lights (see above). See the notes above on the Paramount Oil lights as well. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Tulip- This particular bubbling light is still being made today, although not by Paramount. Beginning in 1951, the Company sold these candelabra base lights in huge quantities, until the molds were sold to ACLA (American Christmas Lighting Association) in 1973. Many companies subsequently sold this base style under their own names, and even today the lights can be found under the NOMA Nostalgia brand name. (BACK to picture)

Peerless- The bubblers from Peerless were made after their well-known Shooting Star cousins, which are described below. After NOMA lost their patent on bubbling lights, companies were free to manufacture the lights any way they saw fit. Using the same plastic housing as the Shooters, Peerless issued these lights with the now-standard methylene chloride chemical in the tubes, which was by far the cheapest and most effective chemical to use. (BACK to picture) 

Peerless Shooting Star- Another effort to circumvent the NOMA patents resulted in the Peerless Shooting star bubbling lights. consisting of two dissimilar liquids, the bubblers allow the formation of many small bubbles, which subsequently rise rapidly through the first liquid, then fall slowly through the second, imitating the effects of fireworks. These bubbling lights are very hard to find today, and are quite collectible, commanding high prices. The lights were offered in both miniature and candelabra base lamps. (BACK to picture)

Reliance Spark-L-Lite- These lights were not made for long, and were extremely susceptible to heat damage. In addition, the bottom housing components were put together with an adhesive that ran and discolored the bases when heated. Not a very successful product, and hard to find in pristine condition today. It is interesting to note that the starburst surround for the lights is almost identical to the starburst surround found on Paramount Starlights.  (BACK to picture)

Renown Biscuit- Made to imitate NOMA's biscuit and capitalize on their sales, these bubblers usually have shorter bubbling tubes than most other lights. (BACK to picture)

Royal Biscuit- Made in both solid color and two-color versions, these Royal biscuits were huge sellers, second only to NOMA's bubble lights. The solid color lights are earlier than the bi-color examples. The activator chemicals used in the tubes are large crystals, which discolor with age. In addition, the base halves are often misaligned, and many examples can be found with glue dribbles from sloppy manufacturing evident. (BACK to picture)

Royal Crown- These lights were Royal's offering of candelabra based lights, and both halves of the base were of the same color, molded to resemble a crown. The bubble tubes are the largest that were incorporated into any of the bubble lights. Sold both single and in sets of seven with a cord, these lights were the ones included with the popular Santa and Snowman bubble light holding figures described below. (BACK to picture)

Royal Bubbling Figures- Immensely popular sellers, these figures were sold both as decorations and for use as children's nightlights. When the Royal Christmas decoration factory burned in 1955, the molds were sold to NOMA, who continued to produce them as bubble light holders and as stand-alone illuminated figures, holding a green plastic (or, later in production, rubber)  Christmas tree instead of a bubbler. The Santa figure is far easier to find than the Snowman, who sells for about twice as much to a collector. (BACK to picture)

SEDA- Little is known about this unusual snap-on type of bubble light, with a cone shaped base and five holly leaf-like extensions surrounding the base. These lights were also sold by the Leo Pollack Company  under the "Polly" brand name late in their business years, circa 1948-1949. Light will snap over either a C-6 or C-7 Christmas lamp, essentially allowing the bubbling part to last indefinitely. The holly leaves were quite brittle, and most examples found today have one or more leaves missing or chipped.  (BACK to picture)

USALITE- Made in both candelabra and miniature base sizes, the bubbling lights from USALITE were discontinued in 1958, only to be brought back again for another production run from 1973-1978. (BACK to picture)

World Wide- In the early 1970s, NOMA filed for bankruptcy, and was taken over by a Japanese company named World Wide. That company briefly offered these very poor quality bubble lights, which were quite small and poor imitations of the NOMA biscuits and had an extremely short bulb life. (BACK to picture)

BACK     HOME

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:

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