Lighted table top trees were an important line for
most of the major Christmas lighting companies in the late 1930s and
throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s. In fact, a few lighted trees were
offered as early as 1925 (see patent number
1,623,086 in the Patents
Pages), which were simple metal cones with shapes cut out for light to
shine through, but they were not big sellers. It took the development of
the light transmitting glass rods, invented by John Frei (patent numbers
2,125,906) to bring the
multicolored lighted table top tree into its own. Soon after the Glo Lite
trees became popular, NOMA introduced their line of electrically lit
trees, and when they presented Bubble Lites to the world,
it was only a short time before the trees sported bubbling
lights upon their branches. Paramount/Raylite had been selling lit
tabletop trees since 1937, and when they began selling their version of
bubbling lights in 1947, soon offered bubble light
trees as well. Here are some examples of what was available over the
|In their 1937 catalog, Paramount
pictured this tabletop sized bottlebrush tree, complete with a
Kristal Star topper and their well known "Rosette" type lights.
The catalog description reads as follows: "Snow Covered Tree,
illuminated by eight Rosette lamps, with an attractive Kristal Star
on top. The tree is dark green, covered with glistening snow, set into a
well matched base that is finished in Chinese red. Different and
are close up pictures of a Kristal Star topper
and a Rosette lamp (right). Both of these lamps are made from
painted and glittered metal and glass, and were imported by
Paramount from Japan in the 1930s. The lamps are plentiful, but I
have never seen a surviving example of this
|Here is a small, Glo Lite tree,
circa 1938. All of the multicolored glass rods are lit from within
by a single standard base 25 watt light bulb. The base is white
plastic, and the form under the Visca tree branches is cardboard.
later versions of this tree, made after 1950 or so, used plastic
rods instead of the glass.
|Here is a very interesting
variation of the Glo Lite tree shown above. This one is from
the collection of Chris Cuff, and is made of blue cellophane rather
than Visca. Quite
small at only about 10" tall, the tree body is cardboard, and the little
lites are glass "globs" attached to the ends of cardboard
cones. The color is on the bottom of the glass, and everything is lit from
inside with a 10 watt Mazda bulb in a "Deal" brand socket. The
socket is permanently fastened into the white plaster base with tar.
|This early offering from NOMA is
circa 1941, and is a simple 14" high artificial tree with nine
miniature base series wired light sockets. The tree came with 10
cone shaped lamps in assorted colors. The base is white plastic, and
the close up photo shows how the cardboard cone forming the tree
fits onto it. Originally, the little tree was a bright, pure white,
but time has taken its toll and the tree is now a soft beige in
|Here is an example of one of the
first bubble light trees available. This is from NOMA, and is circa
1947. Instead of having complete, individual bubbling lights on the
tree, the entire unit is heated and lit with a single 25 watt bulb.
The base of the tree is a metal cone, and the bubble tubes simply
fit into slots in the cone. The advantage to this arrangement is
that the unit could last virtually forever, as one would only have
to replace the single internal lamp when it failed. this is a very
hard to find bubble light tree. All of the NOMA electric trees came
in simple non-decorated corrugated boxes like the one shown here.
The Paramount/Raylite Company also offered a similar tree.
|From 1948, these NOMA bubble
light trees feature 9 of the "new" saucer style bubbling lights.
These lights were series wired, so the failure of a single lamp
caused the entire tree to go dark. The foliage on the 18 inch high
trees is made of Visca, a soft plastic-like material that sadly
becomes brittle with age and eventually sheds. These pictures
are from the 1948 NOMA catalog.
|Also from the 1948 NOMA catalog
are these 18 light trees, identical in construction to the ones
above except for their size (26 inches high). These larger trees are
both more desirable for collectors and much harder to find.
|This is a large NOMA 32 light tabletop
tree shared with us from the collection of Jim Sloss. Displayed upon
the tree is part of Jim's large collection of glass Matchless
Stars, including the exceedingly rare Matchless Star tree topper.
Trees like this, with horizontally mounted sockets instead of the
more traditional vertically mounted ones are very hard to find
today, and were originally intended to hold small round G-4 lamps.
When lit, the little lamps would resemble holly berries. The picture was taken in a darkened room to make the
fabulous colors of the lights more visible, but notice that this
tree is a beautiful white example, and in extremely good condition.
So many of these Visca covered trees are now sadly discolored and
shedding badly, but this example retains all of its original charm
|This tree is a hard to find
multiple wired example from NOMA, and is circa 1949. The unit has
nine candelabra base bubble lights, and contains a very hard to find
solid color base bubbler (the green light on the bottom right of the
tree). It was common practice for NOMA to mix the colors on their
bubble light bases, and only rarely would a solid color example slip
through the factory.
|Also from the collection of Chris
Cuff is this circa 1950 bubble light tree from Royal. This is an
eleven light tree, wired in the usual series configuration. With
eleven lights in the series, the lamps will have an extremely long
life, and Chris reports that all of the lamps appear to be original.
Quite a feat, considering that this tree is 51 years old! Sadly, the
Royal Christmas division of their manufacturing plant burned in
1955, and the company sold their molds and other salvageable
equipment to NOMA and a couple of other companies, choosing not to
remain in the Christmas business. Royal still makes non-decorative
electrical items to this day.