This archive of Bill Nelson's 2001 web site was provided by Fred Fox and is sponsored by:
MANUFACTURER'S HISTORIES, page 2
1916 photograph of the Matchless Electric Company building in Chicago, and a badly damaged picture of one of their local delivery trucks.
After the formation of NOMA, the competitive field was narrowed down a bit-at least temporarily. As the buying public snapped up more and more lighting outfits, their hunger for new and different forms of electric Christmas lighting grew considerably. It was apparent to any good businessman that the market was now huge-and there was money to be made. Despite the devastating effects of the Great Depression, the late 20s and early 30s saw the formation of several large decorative lighting companies in addition to NOMA, and the variety of products offered was staggering. Below is a partial listing of some of the companies in business after 1930.
|COMPANY||LOCATION||OTHER BRAND NAMES OFFERED||NOTES||APPROXIMATE YEARS OF OPERATION|
|Beacon Electric||Boston, MA||ACLA||A distributor for the leftover stock of the NOMA, Paramount and Royal companies. Was in business starting in the early 1970s.||1970-?|
|Belco||New York, NY||none||Also produced small electrics and door bells.||1940-1960|
|ClemCo||Hillside, NJ||none||A family owned business||1920-1950|
|Iron Fireman Company||Portland, OR||none||Introduced the "On-A-Lite" outfits- patent rights purchased by NOMA.||1946-1955|
|Kas-Kel||New York, NY||none||Mainly a plastics manufacturer||1948-1960|
|Miller||Pawtucket, RI||none||Sold leftover Royal stock after Christmas division of that company closed.||unknown-1965|
|Muter||Chicago, IL||none||A small company, not in business very long.||1948-1958|
|NOMA||New York, NY||Propp (after 1927), Real-Lite (after 1927), Glolite, YuleGlo, Amical, Amico, World Wide, International||Once the largest manufacturer of Christmas lights in the world. World Wide and International were names used after the NOMA bankruptcy in the 1970s.||1926-present|
|Paramount||New York, NY||Sterling, Pennant and Gibraltar||Parent company was named Raylite||1928-1970|
|Peerless||New York, NY||Charm, Good Lite||Maker of the shooting star bubbling lights.||1927-1960|
|Polly||New York, NY||none||A small company, and maker of high quality outfits||1935-1950|
|Reliance||New York, NY||XL, Kristal Star, Spark-L-Lites, The New York Merchandise Company||A large company.||1938-1958|
|Renown||New York, NY||Radiant, Gem, Everlite, Santa Lights||Prolific in the late 1940s||1930-1965|
|Royal||Pawtucket, RI||Royalite, Royalites||NOMA's biggest bubble light competitor. Still in business as an electrical device manufacturer, but no longer in the Christmas business.||1937-1955|
|Snap-It||Providence, RI||none||Primarily an electrical device manufacturer-offered the unusual Sleigh-O-Lights outfits||1920-present|
|TIMCO||New York, NY||Thomas Imports||Almost always offered imported lighting outfits. Made many many private label lighting outfits for other companies.||1938-1965|
Many of the major lighting companies used "sub brands" for their imported products, and used the main company name for their American made offerings. A good example of this is NOMA, who proudly placed "Made in the U.S.A." on all of their NOMA branded products, but used a different name, Amico, for their import line. Because of import laws, the country of origin had to be marked on any item that not of domestic manufacture, and most of the large lighting companies did not want it to be public knowledge that some of their products were imported. Additionally, the imported products were less expensive, and by keeping the product lines separate, the sales of one did not affect the other.
Almost all of the major companies had their own import lines of merchandise, which is why, especially with regards to lighting outfits from the early 1950s, there are so many different brand names available. Few of these outfits have any identifying marks or information as to who the actual maker or parent company was, which can make things a bit frustrating for the collector who likes to research his holdings..
HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING NOTES ABOUT A FEW OF THE MANUFACTURING COMPANIES:
NOMA: By far the largest of the lighting companies, NOMA has a long and colorful history. Along with Christmas lighting, NOMA made a very comprehensive line of children's toys and games, along with electric motors, appliances like washing machines and vacuums, and even bombs during World War II. In the early 1970s, some of the very companies that the United States bombed in Japan during the War were strong competitors to NOMA-strong enough in fact to cause the Company to file for bankruptcy. Although the NOMA name can still be found on Christmas lights, it is no longer the same company and the name is now a trademark only. The company went through many owners, and at times was called NOMA Worldwide, simply Worldwide, and NOMA International. There are now two remnants of the Christmas lighting company remaining, one in Great Britain and one here in the US. See the links page for the websites of these two companies. The NOMA name can now even be found on lawnmowers and snow blowers, remains of the 1940s divisions of the company that manufactured the electric motors and appliances. Also see the bubble lights section in the 1940-1950 Lighting Outfits pages of this site for the fascinating story of the introduction of these most popular lights.
THE INTERSTATE ELECTRIC NOVELTY COMPANY: This company, one of the 15 that later merged to become NOMA, was one of the "biggies" in the early history of electric Christmas lighting. Formed in 1912 by the merger of the Franco-American Electric Company and Alfred Wolfe and Company, they made and distributed many forms of decorative lighting, including regular and figural Christmas lamps. In 1920, the Company changed their name to The Franco Electric Company and sold the Yere-Round line of decorative lights. In 1923 their name was changed to Yale Electric, then in 1925 to Premo Electric. I personally have not seen any lighting outfits with the Yale name on them, but there are examples of Franco and Premo brand outfits. By 1926, the company was a part of NOMA. CLICK HERE to see a 1913 advertisement by the Interstate Electric Novelty Company. UPDATE: I have finally been able to add a Yale light set to the collection. CLICK HERE to see it!
ROYAL: The Royal Company is still in business today, although they are not making Christmas lighting or decorations anymore. Once NOMA's largest competitor in the bubble light market along with Paramount, the NOMA Electric Company actually ended up purchasing Royal's old stock when they went out of the Christmas lighting business. A devastating fire broke out in 1955, which totally wiped out the Royal factories that manufactured their Christmas products. Residents of Pawtucket, Rhode Island where the factory was located, reported that for months afterward pieces and parts of Christmas lighting products washed up on the shore of the Blackstone River. Not all of Royal's factories were destroyed in the huge blaze-just the Christmas products buildings. Their huge factory complex is pictured above, taken from a 1940s era Royal box of Christmas lights. Royal decided not to rebuild the factory, and sold all of their remaining stock first to NOMA and then to Miller Electric. The well known Royal Santa and Snowman were sold by NOMA well into the 1960s, indistinguishable from their earlier Royal incarnation. To the left is a picture of a NOMA made set offered in Royal brand packaging. These NOMA/Royal items are easily identified by the address on the package-Saint Joseph, Missouri, the location of the NOMA production facilities at the time. The stock lasted through the mid 1960s for both Miller and NOMA. Miller boxes of this era show pictures of Royal products as well. It can be quite confusing until you realize that most of the stock was originally Royal-produced merchandise. It is also interesting to note that, unlike most of the other major manufacturers, when they were in the Christmas decoration business Royal produced all of their own products and materials, including packaging, purchasing only light bulbs from an outside source (General Electric).
Manufacturer's Histories continues...
Note: This is an archive of the late Bill Nelson's "Antique Christmas Light" web site as it existed in 2001. Except for contact information, link updates, and some information that has been lost, we have attempted to keep the text and illustrations as Bill presented them. However, the original pages included much outdated HTML code and graphic conventions, so we have done a lot of work "behind the scenes" to bring you this archive. Consequently:
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