Editor's Note: Between 1999 and 2003, Bill Nelson catalogued the history of Christmas tree lighting in his web page. Sadly, Bill died about 2004. Though Bill's brother George took over the web page and expanded it, some of Bill's content wasn't continued. In fact, some of Bill's fans just plain liked Bill's site better. This archive of Bill's site circa late 2003 was painstakingly reconstructed by Tom Elmore. Tom kept this version online for several years, then made it available to us in November, 2011. So what you are seeing is an archive - Bill's labor of love frozen in time since 2003, as preserved by Tom Elmore's diligent effort.
The rest of these pages are in Bill's own words, not ours, That said, if you have any comments, corrections, concerns, or questions about these pages, please contact us through our Contact page.
Please note that the site authors Bill and George Nelson collected and catalogued the lights and related products shown on these pages - they did not sell them, and we don't either.
As Bill often said, "Thanks for stopping by."
All titles in blue
hyperlinks-just click, and away you'll go...
Below, you'll find the table of Contents for
this site, listing all of the subjects presented here.
Page- An introduction and overview
of what this site is all about.
Brief History- Information about how
the electric Christmas lighting industry got started, a picture of the
electric Christmas tree, and information about the earliest days of
Illustrated Timeline- A listing
and description of many of the major events in the history and
electric Christmas lighting.
Pre-Electric Era- This section is devoted to some of the
devices used to light Christmas trees before the dawn of the Electric
Mazda Lamp Story- A brief history of the General Electric Mazda
Christmas lamp in the United States.
Morris Propp Story- A brief history of one of the most
important figures in the history of early American Christmas lighting,
and a true success story!
Bert Messervey Story- An interesting history of an early
Canadian importer who brought a fair variety of Christmas lighting
outfits to Canadians and Americans in the early 1920s.
Haft and his 1924 Patent- Details about the incorporation of
add-on connectors to Christmas light strings.
This section provides information about many of the major Christmas
manufacturers, and is illustrated with vintage photographs of some of
factories and shops.
1- A chart of many of the pre-1925 companies in business.
2- Post-1930 companies and some interesting facts about some of the
3- Pictures of early electric lighting dealers.
NOMA Story- A detailed history of the world's largest Christmas
light manufacturing company.
Patent Pages- Here you'll find information
on a lot of the patents for early electric Christmas decorations and
lights, as well as tree stands and a few other Christmas related
inventions. Also images of Edison's patent for the first practical
light bulb-the one that started it all! Each of the patents has a
clickable image of the inventor's drawing with it.
1- Patent numbers 72,506 to 1.350,710
2- Patent numbers 1,351,562 to 1,895,656
3- Patent numbers 1,905,500 to 2,174,446
4- Patent numbers 2,248,117 to 2,453,178
5- Patent numbers 2,453,695 to 2,569,078
6- Patent numbers 2,683,210 to 2,936,144
THE LIGHT SET PICTURE
Light Sets-Picture and
Information Galleries- By far the largest division of
this site, this is the
place to come to date and identify the lighting outfits in your
Profusely illustrated and constantly growing, the lighting outfits are
in the approximate order of their arrival on the market. The pages and
are divided into
specific time periods for your convenience.
1900 TO 1920
page 1- The earliest lighting sets,
rental outfits, and wooden boxed light sets.
page 2- The National Ever Ready Company, Battery outfits, and the
earliest figural lights.
page 3- More on figural lights, carbon light bulbs and colors, and
various socket styles for lighting festoons. More on early sets.
page 4- A catalog of Eveready brand figural lights, battery operated
lights and more.
1920 TO 1930
page 1- Cardboard boxed lighting
sets of the early 1920s-with many pictures.
page 2- More boxed sets, with pictures, descriptions and dates.
page 3- Still more boxed sets, the earliest twinkling lights, and the
first outdoor lamps and outfits.
page 4- Celluloid lights, NOMA Dresden lights, and early electric tree
page 1- A bit on Matchless Stars,
Kristal Stars, NOMA Detector outfits and hints on dating your outfits
page 2- Lots of 1930s era boxed sets with pictures and descriptions,
and ornament lights.
page 3- Lots more boxed sets, and Mazda Bells.
page 4- XL light sets and GE's experimental disposable light string.
page 5- Plastic Character bell lights, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, etc.
page 6- (Learn More About: Matchless Wonder Stars) The history of
page 1- Christmas lights and World
War II, NOMA wooden toys, Wartime box variations and Paramount Star
page 2- NOMA bubble light sets, fire retardant chemicals and Christmas
lights, lots of pictures.
page 3- Rare NOMA bubble light colors, Paramount oil bubble lights,
Goodlite and Peerless Shooting Stars, Royal Bubble Lights.
page 4- Sylvania Fluorescent Christmas light bulbs, Royal and Miller
fluorescent sets, NOMA Glo Ray outfits, and lots of boxed light sets
from the 1940s.
page 5- (Learn More About: Bubble Lights) The history behind the
invention of bubble lights.
- An introduction to the 1950s.
page 1- Pictured in this section are lots of lighting sets that were
produced and/or sold in the United States during the 1950 to 1960 time
page 2- More lighting sets from this era-including the Italian Fairy
page 3- Interesting twinkling light sets from NOMA and others.
and 60s NOVELTY ITEMS- This is sort of an unclassified section,
where you can find decorative electrical items that really do not fit
into any of the lighting categories. Here you'll see motion lamps,
lighted scenes and decorative figures, and creative electrical tree top
1960-1970- An introduction and information
about lighting outfits sold in the US during the turbulent 1960s.
page 2- Mirostar lighted arrangements.
page 3- More sets from this era.
Decorations- Presented separately are those items that
embrace America's fascination with the colorful and glittery aluminum
decorations so typical of the Kennedy era. Here's what you'll find in
1- Aluminum Christmas Trees and their history
2- Some pictures of typical aluminum trees
3- The Color Wheels
1970-1980- An introduction to the 70s, and
pictures of some 1970s era light sets, including the highly collectible
Bradford Celestial Lights tree topper.
page 2- More light sets, General Electric's Satin Bright lamps, and a
bit of information on a 1984 set of figural lights sold by Avon, the
cologne and cosmetics company.
This section of the site presents
pictures and descriptions of many of the replacement Christmas lamps
available over the years.
1- The earliest lamps ever used for Christmas lighting, along with
more common Edison pear style lamps and some Japanese imports.
2- Lamps available from the mid 1920 onward.
VINTAGE NOVELTY LIGHTS AND
Here you'll find pictures and information on
the myriad lighted figures, wall plaques and novelty lighted objects
available during the years 1930 to 1950. This section also covers the
highly popular bubble light trees!
CANADIAN LIGHTING OUTFITS
SPECIAL INTEREST PAGES
I call these the "Learn More About:" Pages-
sections will help you to
learn more about two special and highly collectable types of Christmas
lot can be learned from old advertisements, and this section presents
ads for some very early lighting outfits as well as some of the many
wonderfully-colored offerings from the 1940s.
1- Starting at 1898, advertisements for the earliest outfits and
2- Colorful advertisements from Propp and NOMA.
3- More from NOMA, and ads from Edison and Sylvania.
Photographs- A small selection of some
wonderful pictures of Christmas trees from the first half of the 20th
century-just for fun!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FAQ'S- Here are the answers to many of the
questions I've been asked
since the previous version of this site went online on September 7,
section is updated frequently, so check back often.
1- Here's help with values of your old lighting sets, parts, and a
large section on fixing (or relamping) your bubbling lights.
2- The continuation of the bubble light repair information, plus
some general bubble light questions and a few more technical issues,
including determining base sizes of your lights.
DATING YOUR OUTFITS
Hints and Helps on Dating your Lights is a
compilation of much of the information presented elsewhere on this site
that will help you to assign an approximate date of manufacture to your
vintage lighting collectible. This feature has been requested by many
of this site's visitors, and is now available!
INTERESTING AND RELATED LINKS
and Related Links- Did you know that
Christmas lights are still manufactured under the NOMA name? The links
page will help you get to NOMA's websites in both the United States and
Great Britain, as well as to other companies who sell lights. You'll
also find links to antique dealers specializing in antique Christmas
lights, other collectors, and to some of the authors of well known
Christmas collectibles books!
The Interesting Facts page presents, in no particular
order, some of the fascinating bits of information about America's
unique contribution to the Christmas tree-electric lights!
CHRISTMAS MEMORIES FROM
Memories page of this site shares with you some of the
wonderful letters I have received from website visitors, sharing with
me pictures and childhood memories from past holiday seasons. Some of
these stories are touching, while others are charming glimpses into the
past. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.
Pages- One of the biggest thrills I get
from hosting this web site is all of the information and discussion I
get from site visitors. Many have websites of their own, which can be
found on the Interesting and Related Links page. Other collectors who
do not have sites are invited to share their collections with the world
through the pages hosted in this section.
Cuff's Pages Chris shares
some of his 50s, 60s and 70s mini light
collection with us.
Cuff's Project Pages
Chris shares some of his repair and restoration techniques, as well as
a wonderful project for a reproduction bubble light tree.
Fox's Pages- Fred, a Canadian collector, has shared so many of
sets with us for this website that almost the entire Canadian section
of the site is illustrated with sets from his collection. Fred has some
Lachie's Pages- Don takes this opportunity to share with you
some of the favorite items in his collection.
S Pilliteri's Pages-
Joseph mainly collects Christmas
lighting from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He shares some of his light sets
and information with us on these pages.
Thompson's Pages- Gordon, also a Canadian collectors, shares
some of his collection with us on these pages.
PRE-ELECTRIC ERA VINTAGE
LIGHT SET GALLERIES RELATED