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The Depression Years
Page Two



One 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 examples 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 high selling price and the economic conditions of the 30s, they were only moderate sellers. After World War II, Czechoslovakian glass was no longer practical for use in the manufacture of the Stars, due to the Communist occupation of that country. Lucite stars were then produced, and were sold until all production of Matchless Stars ceased in the mid-1950s.  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 light table top tree filled with Stars and owned by fellow collector and friend Jim Sloss. To learn more about the history of these Stars on this site, CLICK HERE,

Outside of Countertop Sales Box Rare opalescent Centered Star Extremely Rare Frosted Double Star Inside of Countertop Sales Box


Date Manufacturer Notes Outside of Box Inside of Box
1933 Reliance 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 in 1939, just before the War.

1933 Reliance A set of replacement Kristal Stars.

1933 Reliance A Kristal Star tree topper. These were offered in several colors, and had replaceable lamps.

1933 Reliance A typical C-6 lighting outfit, packaged in a very attractive box. As the effects of the Depression wore on, some manufacturers tried creative packaging to entice reluctant buyers. Judging from the small number of this particular outfit available to collectors today, the set does not seem to have been a big seller.
1933 Real Lite/NOMA Marketed by NOMA under the Real Lite name, this outfit contains the unusual C-13 Mazda egg-shaped lamps. The lamps were outside colored matte finished  products, and as a result, the paint was easily scratched. These C-13 lamps were not offered for long.

ca 1934 Reliance It is interesting to note that lantern bulbs were never originally intended for Christmas lighting, but rather for parties, festivals, etc. Through the years, the lanterns found their way to Christmas trees and remained in favor until the beginning of World War II. A few years after the War, the lanterns reappeared for a short time in the early 50s and 60s, and then were no longer produced. 

 1934 General Electric In this year, General Electric offered the new C-7 candelabra based light bulb for the first time. New technology allowing the filament to be tightly coiled allowed this smaller indoor lamp to be made. These lamps operated without the extreme heat generated by the larger C-9 intermediate based lamps that were used outdoors. Sets offering this lamp were parallel wired, so that the failure of a single lamp would not cause the entire string to go dark. These new sets were expensive, however, and sales did not really take off until after World War II.

1934 GE advertisement announcing the new lamps.

1934 NOMA here is NOMA's first issue of the C-7 candelabra based parallel wired outfit. The set bears the NRA symbol, and includes a red and green unlacquered cloth cord that was UL listed for indoor use only. This set is hard for the collector to find today.
1934 ClemCo This ClemCo box was the first style the the company used to sell both their C-6 sets and the new C-7 candelabra based parallel wired outfits. The set pictured here has C-6 miniature based lamps.
1935 ClemCo This box was used for both C-6 miniature base and C-7 intermediate base strings up until the beginning of World War II.
ca 1935 Paramount First offered by Paramount in 1935, these Rosette lamps were not actually their own product, but a Japanese import that was also sold to other companies. Made of glass with a metal "snowflake" backing, the lamps were a far less expensive offering to compete with the Matchless Stars. These Rosettes are pretty when lit, but do not even come close to the beauty of a genuine Matchless product.
ca 1935 Reliance

Here is the Reliance company's set of the Rosette lamps. As explained above, the lamps are a "generic" imported product, not actually manufactured by Reliance. The metal backing of these Rosettes is often found discolored from rust and/or flaking paint. The lamps are easily replaceable, and spare bulbs were sold separately by both Reliance and Paramount. One Rosette is turned sideways to show the metal backing of these lights.

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