Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page

The War Years


1941 saw the United States enter World War II, which had a devastating effect on the manufacture of Christmas lights. As the need for war materials grew, most American companies turned their production lines to whatever they could make that would help the war effort. Metals of all types were in short supply, and as a result, no electric Christmas lighting outfits were made during the war years.

Old strings that were in warehouse storage before the War began were sold for as long as the stock lasted. After that, Americans had to make their old sets last a few years longer, just as they had to do during the previous decade in the Depression. This probably accounts for the large variety and quantities of vintage lights that are available to the collector today. Lighting outfits were carefully packed away in their original boxes for use in future Christmases, often with interesting little notes hand-written inside the boxes as to what room or window they went in.  Bubble lights, soon to become the best selling Christmas lights in the world, were actually invented in the late 30s, but NOMA, the purchaser of the patents on the lights, had to wait until after the war before they could be manufactured. This section will cover both the carry-over lights from the Depression era, as well those outfits marketed until stock finally ran out.



NOMA, the world's largest lighting company, issued their product catalog as usual in October of 1941. In it, they featured several new products, including their illuminated treetop angel. "She's New! She's Beautiful," the catalog proclaimed. Geared up for a heavy selling season despite the war raging in other countries, most of the lighting companies had a good supply of stock on hand, and the 1941 selling season promised to be a good one. Then, disaster struck.

On December, 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the United States Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the next day, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan.

The United States was in a state of confusion, caught off guard by Japan's attack. Needless to say, American's holiday spirits were severely dampened. The Christmas 1941 selling season was a dismal one for the lighting manufacturers, and it was only the beginning.

By 1942, almost all American manufacturers were involved in making supplies and ammunition for the war effort. Supplies were desperately short, and all unnecessary items, including Christmas lights, were no longer made. Among the materials that Americans experienced huge shortages of were rubber, most metals including copper, and gasoline and heating oil. Purchasing a bicycle required a permit from the local ration board. Citizens could buy just four gallons of gasoline a week, which was reduced to three gallons by 1944. Civilians were even urged to keep long distance telephone calls to a minimum, so as to leave the lines open for soldiers. The paperback book was invented by struggling publishers, scrambling for paper supplies, as they used less than a third of the paper that a "regular" book did. The most coveted wartime gift was ration stamps.

Trade ads of 1942 touted the manufacturers' involvement in the wartime production efforts, while at the same time reminding the mothers left at home alone with the children that the little ones still deserved a good Christmas. NOMA began the production of wooden toys, whose manufacture did not use up precious raw materials. Called NOMA Woodies, the Plain-Jane toys were good sellers.

1943 Woodies Trailer 1943 NOMA Trade Ad 1943 Woodies Train Set


Note: OldChristmasTreeLights™ and FamilyChristmasOnline™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications™ (
The original subject matter content and illustrations on the™ product description pages are Copyright (c) 2001, 2008 by Bill and George 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.
Old Christmas Tree Lights(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For more information, please contact us.

Click to see sturdy Lionel(r) trains that are perfect for your Christmas tree.

Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page
Jump to the OldChristmasTreeLights Discussion Forum
Visit our affiliated sites:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Visit Papa Ted Althof's extensive history and collection of putz houses, the largest and most complete such resource on the Internet.. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Craft and collectibles blog with local news of Croton NY.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments
- Music -
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable. Own a guitar, banjo, or mandolin?  Want to play an instrument?  Tips to save you money and time, and keep your instrument playable.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page
Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads
Big Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
Visit Lionel Trains. Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.

Click to trains that commemorate your team!