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After the War

page 4


This 1949 outfit from Snap-It was offered in most unusual packaging. The outer sleeve protected the inner cardboard sleigh-shaped holder for the lights. The instructions suggested that the sleigh could be used as a table centerpiece, used either lit up or filled with nuts and candies.

These plastic bubbling light holders were first sold by Royal Electric in 1949. After a fire destroyed their Christmas lighting factory in 1955, the molds were sold to NOMA, who continued to sell them in various forms through the mid 1960s.



This candle light outfit used plastic flames and was lit from within. The flames usually disintegrate over time, and therefore it is quite hard for the collector to find units complete with the flame today.

1949 NOMA Although this item appeared in the 1949 NOMA catalog, this collector believes that it is doubtful that any were ever produced. The round base part of these lights were also used for NOMA's Snap-On type bubbling lights, which would snap over either a C-6 or C-7 type Christmas lamp. The pictures shown here are from an original 1949 NOMA catalog.


1949 was a pivotal year for NOMA. Shortly after their success with the Bubble Lites, other companies almost immediately issued their own versions of the popular lights. Some companies, like Paramount, circumvented the patents by using oil in their tubes while others blatantly challenged the patent by using the same methylene chloride that NOMA used. When the issue finally reached the courts, NOMA lost and the market was suddenly wide open for all.  Sticking with their original success, NOMA reissued the famous "biscuit" style lights, in the slightly modernized box as pictured below, left. The little girl  staring in wonderment at the bubbling light had changed her dress from a early 40s style blue outfit with stripes to a much more timely solid green dress. Her eyes had also mysteriously changed  color from blue to green to match her new outfit. 


1949 NOMA outfit with UL statement Inside the box Close-up of UL statement 1949 NOMA Bubble Lites which have fire retardant chemical damage 1949 NOMA trade magazine advertisement about inclusion of fire retardant chemical


To add to NOMA's troubles, one of their sets of bubble lights was accused of starting a fire, which tragically involved a fatality. NOMA and most other bubble light manufacturers immediately added a fire retardant chemical to their plastic. NOMA outfits that include this chemical are clearly and boldly marked with the UL approval information on the front cover of the box (see picture above, third from left). The chemical caused the premature breakdown of the plastic in the lights, making them useless within a few years. Lights showing this disintegration are shrunken and severely distorted (fourth picture from left), and are often found with a whitish coating that is often erroneously attributed to spray snow or heat damage. The lights illustrated above show the damage that was caused by the flame retardant. Note that since these lights are from 1949 and later, they do not contain the glass slug. After a few years, it was determined that the NOMA bubble light set was not the cause of the fire, and the chemical was no longer used in the manufacture of the lights. The picture to the far right is of an ad NOMA strategically placed in the 1949 edition of the Fire Engineering Magazine, explaining the use of the new chemical.

Another victim of the chemically-impregnated plastic, NOMA Sno-Flake Gems were sold in 1949-1951. Few examples of the lights themselves survive. Those that do will likely be showing signs of deterioration from the fire retardant additive.



Although from apparently different companies, both of the sets pictured here are NOMA products. These bubbling lights are almost identical to NOMA's regular issues, except that the patent numbers are not molded into the base halves, the light bulbs are not always a GE product, and the bubbling tubes are 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch shorter. These lesser quality bubblers were sold for about two-thirds of the cost of NOMA-branded outfits.


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