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The Depression Years
Page Four



A very unusual 1937 lighting experiment from General Electric:
A Disposable Lighting Outfit

Set Unlit Set Lit Lamp Close Up Lamp Lit at Low Voltage Bakelite Junction Box Close Up of Junction Box and Plug Close Up of Connector

This collector was recently contacted by a gentleman researching Christmas lights for a forthcoming Smithsonian exhibit. He provided the information that these lights are a 1937 attempt by General Electric to produce a "disposable" light string! Since the lamps are permanently wired together in each series festoon, when one fails, the entire festoon is then useless. It was intended to simply be tossed away, and a new string plugged into the junction box in its place. The junction box itself appears quite similar to one used in the 1936 model Desoto automobiles. It is apparent that General Electric never produced this experimental set in any great number, as so far, only three of these sets are known to exist. The lamps have tungsten filaments, and are a bit smaller than a standard C-6 Christmas bulb. The connectors are rubber covered, and are stamped in white print with the General Electric "meatball" style logo and the words: "Mazda Lamp". The set has an American plug, and runs at proper brightness on 120 volts. It is also interesting to note that the blue light bulbs in the festoons exhibit the same paint peeling problem that GE's C-6 miniature base lamps of this era had.

Date Manufacturer Notes Outside of Box Inside of Box
ca 1937 Timco A typical example of how boxes got less colorful as the Depression wore on.
ca 1937 Crescent A hard-to-find set from Crescent, packed in a box a bit smaller than most from this time. The box mentions both the use of "genuine" Mazda lamps and the fact that the set is American Made. We're sorry but the big version of this photograph has been lost. We're sorry but the big version of this photograph has been lost.
ca 1937 APEX/Paramount A tiny Depression-era outfit, in a very thin cardboard box. In fact, the cardboard is so thin that it is a wonder this little outfit survived. Packed in a box about one-half the size of typical boxes of this era, the outfit  originally contained inexpensive Japanese lamps and sold for just 29?. This set was manufactured under the APEX name by Paramount.
ca 1937 Paramount A set of Paramount Candle Lights using the new GE candle shaped lamps.
ca 1937 Royal Royal's set of candle lights is a hard set to find today. Apparently, not many were sold.
ca 1937 Royal/Standard From the collection of David Neely, this outfit is a very hard to find battery operated outfit, intended for those rural homes still not wired for electricity. This is a 6 volt set, made to run from the farm tractor or radio battery. Standard was a sub-brand of the Royal Electric Company.
ca 1937 NOMA NOMA's version of the candle lights included their patented Berry Beads to help hold the lamps upright. These light were sold in an attractive book-style box.
ca 1937 Reliance These ornament lights were imported from Japan. Due to the silvering on the inside of the glass, the lights had a short life as a result of the increased heat trapped in the bulb. This set is almost impossible to find today.
ca 1937 Clemco ClemCo's candle lights used the T-4 light bulbs instead of the larger candle lamps. This set was not made for very long.
ca 1938 Glo Lite This Glo Lite Candle was sold individually from stand-up counter cards as well as in sets of eight complete with the lighting string. When the NOMA company bought the company, the plastic bases of these lights were used in their earliest, experimental bubbling lights.
ca 1938 Real-Lite In an unusually "non-Christmassy" box, this set from Real-Lite was apparently a good seller. The Real-Lite company was purchased by NOMA, who continued to use the Real-Lite name for some of their lighting outfits. Note: This is the link George Nelson used to show the contents of the box to the left. It may not be the correct photo.  We apologize for any confusion.
ca 1938 ClemCo In the late 1930s, ClemCo revised their box style, making it more colorful in an effort to increase sales. Both C-6 miniature base and C-7 intermediate base strings were marketed in this new box.
ca 1938 Paramount Paramount marketed these lights under their Sterling brand name. The set included imported lamps.
ca 1938 Pass and Seymour The P&S company is an electrical device manufacturer, still in business at their original address to this day. They manufactured Christmas lighting outfits for a short time.
ca 1938 Reliance This lantern set by Reliance did not mention Christmas use, although the set was marketed at Christmas time as well as during the rest of the year.
ca 1939 Paramount This set of bell lights included uncommon flashlight-type lamps in the set instead of the usual C-6 miniature base lamps.
ca 1939 Paramount This set included imported lamps, and was marketed under the Paramount name. Other lighting companies also sold the same lights under their own names. It is unusual for a major lighting company to sell Japanese lamps under their major brand name, as most used "generic" names for sets that included imported lamps.

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