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VINTAGE NOVELTY LIGHTED FIGURES

In response to the many requests I've received since this site first went live, I've decided to begin work on this new section, devoted to the myriad of novelty lighted figures, tabletop trees, lighted tree stands and electric wall plaques that were available during the time period that this site covers. Most of the figures presented here will be from the 1930-1950 time period.

 

We'll begin this section with this 1940 NOMA "neon" metal and glass star, which was quite a novelty for its time. Lit from within by a single candelabra base C-7 lamp, the outer edges of the unit would glow with a decidedly neon effect, due to the beveled and frosted edges of the clear glass star rays. The center would glow as well from the cutouts in the metal . The star was provided with a tree-top adapter, or it could be placed or hung in a window or on a mantelpiece. First appearing in NOMA's 1940 catalog, the star continued to be offered well into the late 1950s, although by that time the star's rays had been changed to a more cost effective Lucite.

NOMA Neon Star inside.jpg (26010 bytes) NOMA Neon Star close.jpg (16466 bytes)

 

First offered by Royal in 1941, this single candle capitalized on the new popularity of Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Montgomery Wards character introduced in a giveaway children's book in 1939. A close look at the plastic trees will reveal that they are the same ones used in the popular Royal Santa and Snowman figures also sold during this time. This is a very hard to find novelty light.

Royal Rudolph and Candle.jpg (10381 bytes)

 

Also circa 1941, this adult version of the Royal Company's Santa and Reindeer originally held a bubbling light. The children's version had two Rudolph figures as shown on the single candle unit above. This uncommon variation in the Royal Bubble Light Santa series is extremely hard to find, and has kindly been shared with us and photographed by Wayne Vaughn.

 

Another hard to find light from Royal, this is a two-candle offering with their ever-popular lighted Santa in the middle. Circa 1950, this display was offered in several configurations, including an example with a snowman in the middle. In the example pictured here, Santa has lost his green plastic tree-a very frequent occurrence with these figures. The figure presented below still has his tree.

Santa with Candles.jpg (33865 bytes)

 

Here are the popular Santa and Snowman figures by Royal, circa 1949. These figures were offered holding bubble lights, green plastic trees, or simple "Merry Christmas" signs. Originally offered only by Royal, the molds were later sold to NOMA and Miller when the Royal Christmas factory burned in 1955. As a result, you can find boxed examples of these figures with all three names on them, which can be a bit confusing. To make matters even more complicated, in the early 1970s, the molds for the figures were re-tooled to eliminate the light or tree sockets, and Santa and his friend were then sold as simple internally-lit children's night lights by the Empire plastics Company.

Royal Santa with tree.jpg (37777 bytes) Bubble_Snowman.jpg (10511 bytes)

 

Circa 1950, this figure of Santa on a reindeer came in several variations, two of which are shown here. All of the variations were lighted, and Santa was available riding either a white, tan or brown reindeer. It was called "Hi Ho Santa" by the manufacturer. 

Miller Santa on Deer outside.jpg (34996 bytes)

Santa on Deer light.jpg (31475 bytes)

 

This 1948 angel by Royal could be used as either a tree topper or a free standing figure. The clear wings are heavily embossed, and when lighted from within gave a most unusual effect, in many ways quite similar to the NOMA "neon" star shown above. 

Royal Angel.jpg (32640 bytes)

 

Manufactured by the Leo Pollack Company, or Polly, this 1935 cellophane-wrapped cross has a cardboard base and eight miniature base C-6 lamps. It was meant to be hung in a window or over a porch-covered door.

Polly Cellophane Cross.jpg (46127 bytes)

 

Called "King Santa" by its manufacturer, Miller Electric, this 1949 lighted figure also doubled as a coin bank. The interior light was mounted above the coin slot, so that falling change would not strike the bulb and break it. Miller offered a full line of King Santa figures through the 1960s. 

King Santa Light.jpg (25811 bytes)

Here is a classic example of how manufacturers made different figures from the same mold. With a simple change in the paint scheme, the addition of a small pipe and the substitution of a top hat for Santa's crown, King Santa has now become a "lighted Snowman", who originally held a yellow plastic broom in the hole in his left hand. These figures can also be found holding a plastic shovel. Strangely, there is even a pirate version of the light, complete with an eye patch and parrot!

A jolly Snowman from Paramount, circa 1950. he is one of a series of "working" Snowmen, which also included figures with a shovel, rake and a hayfork.

 

NOMA first offered this hard plastic lighted angel with a wand in the early 1940s. It can be used both as a tree topper and a stand alone light. Variations of this unit sometimes included molded plastic hair instead of the individual strands of doll hair as featured on this example.

NOMA Angel Lite.jpg (20420 bytes)

 

This variation of the NOMA treetop angel eliminates the halo around the figure's head, but has a starburst mounted to the back instead, which glows with a warm amber color when lighted. This example is circa 1948, and was called the Glow Lite Treetop Angel by NOMA.

Angel Glo Treetopper.jpg (39805 bytes)

 

One of the prettiest lighted novelty figures and also one of the hardest to find, this musical angel could be used as a stand-alone night light, a tree topper or a wall plaque. Along with the light, a music box accessible in the back plays a nicely arranged version of "Angels We Have Heard on High". The product is from Paramount, and is circa 1946.

 

Many companies offered Standing Santa figures like this one, lighted from within by a single C-7 lamp through a hole in the back. This example is from Miller, and is circa 1948. These plastic figures are often misidentified as being made of Celluloid, but they were actually typical late 40s era hard plastic that has yellowed over the years, giving the material the off-white appearance and brittleness often attributed to celluloid.

 

This flocked Santa Glo wall plaque or tree topper was first made by Royal, then later offered by NOMA after the Royal Christmas factory burned in 1955. The plastic used in the early years of manufacture did not stand up well over the years, and older plaques are often found distorted and cracked.

 

Colorful free standing or wall hangable hard plastic lighted figures with flat backs like this were a common NOMA offering during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s and 60s. This is one of several subjects, others of which included elves, candy canes, holly arrangements, candle groupings, bells and snowmen. The particular example pictured here is circa 1950.

 

Here is a unique offering from Paramount/Raylite, circa 1948. The "church" is lighted and incorporates a music box which plays "Silent Night", while the church doors open and close slowly, revealing the lighted painting of the Madonna and Christ Child being led by an angel or cherub. A most charming middle century novelty item, made of heavy ivory colored plastic.

 

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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

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