Click to go to the Old Christmas Tree Lights™ Table of Contents Page
Click to go the Old Christmas Tree Lights™ Table of Contents Page


Electric lighting for Christmas trees first became widely available to the public in the early 1900s. Those early products were experiments both in electrical engineering and in marketing approaches. Today's collectors of the early lamps and of related materials are taken with both the sheer variety of products and the audacity of the manufacturers' claims.

Between 1999 and 2003, Bill Nelson recorded and illustrated the history of these lamps and the businesses behind them in the "Old Christmas Lights" web page. When Bill died, his brother George took over and reformatted much of Bill's content into his "Antique Christmas Lights Museum" web site.

What was most remarkable is how useful the sites were to collectors, considering that neither brother was a webmaster by profession, and they used web development software and photo editing tools that have long since been discontinued, as well as early digital cameras with very low resolution.

Unfortunately, when George became critically ill, there was no one left to keep the site going or even to keep reregistering the domain names. Consequently, the last iteration of the last site unexpectedly shut down in early 2010. The original URL was taken over by a "squatter" selling unrelated merchandise, and all of the brothers' work was purged from George's web server.

Recognizing the value of the Nelsons' work, the editors of Family Christmas Online™ immediately contacted the family to ask permission to restore the site for future collectors. To that end we have invested hundreds of hours rewriting code, reformatting photographs and otherwise restructuring things to make this material available to the widest possible audience.

Subsequently, readers and friends have sent us files to help us recreate the brothers' sites as they appeared at other times.

  • Fred Fox, owner of NoelKat, an online vintage Christmas decoration store, supplied enough files to reconstruct the 2001 version of Bill's site.

  • Tom Elmore a shortwave radio hobbyist in Alaska had attempted to reconstruct the 2003 version of Bill's site. He was glad to forward us his files for inclusion here.

  • And, most recently, angel chime collector Greg Hendershot sent us enough files to begin a restoration of George's site as it existed in 2006.

It may seem redundant to restore so many versions of what was more-or-less the same web site. However, both brothers' interests changed over time, so each version has unique features. We've tried to make each version as complete as it could be, considering the resources we were able to track down. That said, if you find any broken links, etc. please contact us, and we'll try to fix the problem.

Update for 2015: Longtime readers of the Nelsons' sites know that George's versions left out out several pages that were in Bill's original site, including Bill's pages for the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. These omissions have been forcing our readers to navigate back and forth between versions of the site to find information they remembered seeing somewhere. For your convenience, we have "reintroduced" the pages for the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, to the 2008 version, fixing links, cleaning them up and restoring as many of the graphics as we could. As time permits, we will try to restore other "missing" pages as well. We realize that for some folks that ruins the "integrity" of this archive. If you feel that way, you can see our original reconstruction of George's 2008 site here.

Note: The sites listed here are not archives in the sense of being direct, unedited copies of someone else's work. Each site is a restoration - the result of hundreds of hours spent tracking down missing files, as well as updating obsolete code, fixing broken links, and tweaking low-resolution photographs. For that reason, we request that you contact us before reusing large portions of this work. To reuse a few photos or lines of text, please provide the following credit:

    Text and Illustrations Copyright (c) 2000-2010 by Bill and George Nelson. Used by permission of

If you have any comments, corrections, concerns, or questions about these pages, please contact us through our Contact page. We now return you to the site's content (or as much as we've been able to reload so far).

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 George often said, "Thanks for stopping by."

Click to visit the Discussion Forums
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Update for December, 2013 - Discussion Forum Rollout - In late 2013, we started a discussion forum to allow fans and collectors of vintage Christmas lighting to talk to each other directly. We also post reader questions and our answers here, so other folks can chime in with their responses. You won't have to register to see the questions and answers, but you'll need to register to post directly to the forums.

We use a manual signup to make certain only well-meaning "real people" sign up, so it may take us a while to get you signed up after you register. However, you won't have to worry about the unpleasantness you occasionally see on other forums.

If you're interested in seeing the forums, click here.

If you're interested in signing up for the forums, click here.

> > > > Enter our expanded resoration of George's 2008 site here. < < < <
(This is our most complete version, including pages George had removed by 2006.)

> > > > Enter our original resoration of George's 2008 site here. < < < <
(This is the most authentic version of George's most recent complete site.)

> > > > Enter our restoration of George's 2006 site here. < < < <
(This is George's first major reconstruction of Bill's site.)

> > > > Enter our restoration of Bill's 2003 site here.< < < <
(This is our most complete restoration of Bill's original site. Soon after this
was published, Bill became too ill to continue his work.)

> > > > Enter our restoration of Bill's 2001 site here. < < < <
(This is an early version of Bill's first site.)

Note: OldChristmasTreeLights™ and FamilyChristmasOnline™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications(tm) (
The original subject matter content and illustrations on™ are Copyright (c) 2008 by George Nelson.
All updated HTML code, editorial comments, and reformatted illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 2010 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.

For more information, please contact us.