Table of Contents




The collection presented on this site is constantly expanding. As it grows and this collector's research continues, the frequent visitor will notice that additions, corrections and site enhancements occur often. The most recent of these are chronicled on a special page. Please visit the Collector's Notebook by clicking HERE to see what has changed within the past year or so. As always, I encourage your questions and comments--please feel free to
e-mail me.

Text in BLUE is clickable.

Introduction: A Letter From Your Host

Preface: American Christmases Before the Advent of Electric Lights
A brief glimpse of what American Christmases were like without electricity. This section includes some interesting
and early candle holders and devices.

Timeline: A Timeline of Major Events in the History of the American Christmas Lighting Industry

Chapter One:   A Brief History of Electric Christmas Lighting in America 

Information about how the electric Christmas lighting industry got started, a picture of the first electric Christmas tree,
and more about the earliest days of electric Christmases in America.

Chapter Two:   The Earliest Light Sets 1900-1920
Pictures of the oldest lighting outfits in the collection, both battery and household mains powered.

Chapter Three:  The Roaring Twenties 1921-1929 
It is here that the Christmas lighting industry in America really got off the ground. Box art hit a peak during this time, and some of the most colorful boxes the collector can find come from this era. You'll find a huge number of outfits both pictured and discussed in this section.

  • Page 1- 1921-1924: An introduction, and pictures of carbon filament sets and smooth cone outfits.
  • Page 2- 1925-1926: More smooth cone outfits, and the earliest ribbed cone sets.
  • Page 3- 1926-1928: Some of the most colorful boxes ever produced are on this page, along with the beautiful outfit from Woodwin-one of this collector's favorite boxes.
  • Page 4- 1928-1929: The last sets made before the effects of The Great Depression are felt.
  • Page 5- 1929-1930: The Great Depression begins. Some early treetop stars are pictured and discussed, along with the NOMA Dresden figural lighting set and a few outdoor lighting sets.
  • Also in this chapter: Lester Haft and His 1924 Patent
                                           The NOMA Story
                                           The Morris Propp Story
                                           The Bert Messervey Story

Chapter Four:   The Depression Years 1930-1940 
As the American economy faltered, lighting outfits were made more economically, in an effort to appeal to even the poorest of families. Low cost Japanese imports became much more common.

  • Page 1- 1930-1932: An introduction, a discussion of the National Recovery Act, and some lighting sets from the first part of this decade.
  • Page 2- 1932-1935: Matchless Stars, as well as a good assortment of some of the novelty lights introduced to spur sales of Christmas lights during The Depression.
  • Page 3- 1935-1936: The "new "XL shunt type lamps are introduced. Also, more novelty lights, including the NOMA Mickey Mouse light set.
  • Page 4- 1937-1939: An experimental General Electric lighting outfit, and more late-30s sets.
  • Page 5- 1939-1940: The last sets introduced before America entered World War II.
  • Also in this chapter:  Matchless Stars
  • Also in this chapter: If one goes out, they ALL go out!

Chapter Five:   The War Years 1941-1945 
The United States enters the War, and the American lighting is forever changed because of it.

  • Page 1- 1941-1943: The beginning of World War II, and its affect on the Christmas lighting industry.
  • Page 2- 1944-1945: War-era box art, the end of Christmas lighting for a few years, and the Sylvania Fluorescent Christmas lights of 1945.

Chapter Six:   After the War 1946-1950 
The postwar economic boom changes forever America's perception of the "traditional" Christmas tree and the way it was lit.

Chapter Seven:  A Look Beyond the 50s...
A brief look at electric lights offered after 1950 and a short history of the aluminum Christmas tree.

Chapter Eight:   NOMA, the World's Largest Christmas Lighting Company 
A detailed history of this incredible company.

Chapter Nine:   The History of Bubble Lights, Once the World's Most Popular Christmas Light 
An interesting history, and discussion of the major legal battle that accompanied the introduction of this popular light.

Chapter Ten:   Lighted Figures and Novelties
Three pages of lighted candles, figures and other novelty items from the early 1920s through 1950.

Chapter Eleven:  Lighted Tabletop Trees
A brief look at lighted table top and bubbling light trees from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Chapter Twelve:   Just For Fun, a Few Pictures of Christmas Past 
Presented here is a small collection of photographic memories of Christmas as it was in Great Grandmother's time.

Chapter Thirteen:    Christmas Memories 
Some charming glimpses into past Christmases, shared with us by visitors to this site.

Chapter Fourteen:   A Collection of Interesting Facts
A list of interesting bit of information about American Christmas lights, in no particular order. My parents would have called these "useless facts", but I find them quite intriguing...

Chapter Fifteen:   Frequently Asked Questions  
A discussion of some of the most asked questions by site visitors. More is always being added.

Chapter Sixteen:   Vintage Advertising
A lot can be learned from early advertising, and these pages present many of the ads that this collector has used for research in preparing this web site.

Chapter Seventeen:   A Combined Glossary of Terms and Index of Manufacturers 
An explanation of the terms used on this website as well as information on many of the Christmas lighting manufacturers from the first half of the twentieth century.

Chapter Eighteen:  The Patent Pages
A presentation of interesting Christmas related patents filed over the years.

Chapter Nineteen:  A Listing of Manufacturers
A list of manufacturers divided into two sections- Before the formation of NOMA and after the formation of NOMA.

Chapter Twenty:   The Collector's Notebook
This page chronicles the changes and updates to this site over the past year or so. Frequent visitors might like to check
here first for references and links to the most recent updates and changes.

Chapter Twenty One:   References and Related Links 
Where to find more information, and links to other informational sites.


Note: This is an archive of the late George Nelson's "Antique Christmas Light Museum" web site as it existed in 2006. Except for contact information, link updates, and some information that has been lost, we have attempted to keep the text and illustrations as George presented them, using resources his brother Bill had pulled together before his passing in 2004. However, both Bill and George's pages included so much archaic code and nonstandard graphic formats that it has taken a lot of work "behind the scenes" to bring you this archive. Consequently:

  • The original subject matter content and illustrations on the product description pages are Copyright (c) 2001, 2003, 2006 by Bill and George Nelson.
  • All updated HTML code, editorial comments, and reformatted illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2013, 1014 by Paul D. Race.
Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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OldChristmasTreeLights? and FamilyChristmasOnline? are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications? (

For more information, please contact us.

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