LIGHTING OUTFITS: 1940-1950,   page 3


Pictured above are three rare color variations of NOMA biscuit style bubble lights. On the left is an example of the hard to find pink biscuit half, the center shows the royal blue half, and on the right is the even rarer white biscuit half. Another hard to find biscuit color is deep, blood red.


These two unusual NOMA bubble lights were produced in the early 1960s in Mexico. The base halves are turquoise and yellow. The turquoise base half is not seen in American-produced NOMA bubblers. Note the crudely shaped tube tips, and the unusual color of the liquid in the lite on the left, which can best be described as a greenish-brown, also a color not seen in American production. The base halves are identical to their American counterparts, except that no patent numbers are present.


This box of NOMA bubblers is from the early 1960s, and is one of the last box styles the company used before bankruptcy in 1965. This same box was also used for the rocket style bubblers in 1962 and 63 (see picture below).  After bankruptcy, the NOMA name continued to be used by various companies throughout the rest of the century, and continues today, now owned by the Inliten Company.

In the same box as the regular NOMA bubble lights as above, this set of Rockets was marketed only in 1962 and 1963, with the picture of the biscuit-style bubbler cut away from the package by the factory. Careful inspection of a box of NOMA rockets will show traces of the picture that was removed remaining at the top and bottom of the box window. This picture has been kindly shared with us by Ken Noto, and the rare set is from his collection.


This circa 1949 set of replacement bubblers from ClemCo is a very hard to find set. The lights included are essentially identical to those offered by Peerless in their non Shooting Star variety.



Kindly provided by Kyle Sund from his collection, this 1948 box of Reliance Spark-L-Lites is a very hard set to find. These bubblers are often found with glue marks on the star parts and bases of the lights, due to manufacturing. In addition, the plastic base parts are easily damaged from heat and are often found warped and distorted. When lit, the units are remarkably pretty, and do have a nice sparkling effect as their name suggests.


Also from Kyle is this set from Coby, strangely called Co Lo Lights, apparently a play on the word "color". These are actually Renown style bubble lights. The set dates to the late 1950s, and is quite uncommon.



Pictured on the right are two apparently different brands of bubble lights, but both are actually products of NOMA. The biscuit lamps included with the outfits are identical to other NOMA biscuits, but lack the patent numbers on the base parts that are present on their NOMA counterparts. Production costs were further reduced by including a lesser quality lighting string, and in many cases cheaper positioning clips were included as well.


The outfit pictured here is from Paramount, and is an example of their attempt to circumvent NOMA's bubble light patent. The lights were originally called Animated Candles, but Paramount soon changed the name of their lamps to "bubbling lights"-close to NOMA's "Bubble Lites". The tubes are filled with oil and pumice instead of the methylene chloride used by their competitor, and the oil bubbles with very fine, tiny bubbles that are pretty when seen up close, but the effect is lost on a Christmas tree when seen at a distance. As a result, these lamps were not at all popular. As soon as NOMA lost their patent rights, Paramount lost no time in filling their bubble tubes with the better-performing methylene chloride, and continued selling their lights in identical boxes as before. In fact, when Paramount dropped this style of light altogether in 1949, they continued to market their new lights (quite similar to the NOMA biscuits) in this same box despite the fact that the light style included in the box no longer matched the cover picture. The green light pictured above has an oil filled tube with metallic glitter, and the yellow tube uses the standard methylene chloride. Paramount oil filled bubble lights are highly sought after by collectors.  Oil Set Outside View

Oil Set Inside View
Oil Bubble Light
Regular Bubble Light


Shooting Star bubbling lights were offered in 1947-1948 by Peerless, in an attempt to circumvent NOMA's patents. The tubes offer a unique bubbling action, due to the two different liquids they contain. The bubbles rise rapidly through a thin liquid, then slowly fall through the thicker liquid at the bottom. The effect is strikingly similar to fireworks display, but sadly is lost on a large tree. The lights were not good sellers, and as soon as NOMA lost their patent on bubbling lights, Peerless changed their chemicals to the standard methylene chloride. Genuine "shooters" can be identified by the two distinct liquids in the tube, similar to the appearance of oil and water. These lights are extremely rare, and are highly sought after by collectors today.  The boxed set pictured above on the right is a parallel wired candelabra base set, while the left box and  light are series wired miniature base examples. Note the similarity to the NOMA biscuit bubbler. Miniature base series wired shooters
A close-up of a Lamp from the above set
Candelabra base parallel wired shooters
A look inside the box


This box of replacement bubble lights by Sterling is a difficult box to find, as the full color version was only offered for two years- 1948 and 1949. After this, the company changed their box art to a much less colorful navy blue and red motif. These lights are very similar to NOMA's style of bubblers, and are also referred to as biscuits by collectors.


First offered for sale in 1947, these bubbling lights by Royal were good sellers. Royal took great pains not to step on NOMA's patents by calling their offering "Sparkling Royalites", rather than bubble lights. The plastic bases are shaped similarly to NOMA's product, but a close look reveals several differences. The earliest lights, offered in the blue box, came with loose spring clips to attach to the tree, but the springs had a tendency to twist on the tree and upright positioning was difficult.  Later Royal offerings like those in the red box came with clips permanently attached to the sockets. These lights originally sold for $2.69 and were somewhat less expensive than NOMA's bubble lites, but were of lesser quality as well. Production runs for the first few years featured solid matching color base parts, while later issues were made with two-color base halves.


The box on the top right represents a late issue of Paramount bubble lights--circa 1950. By this time, Paramount had finally changed their box art to represent the true contents of the product.  The picture on the bottom right is a generic outfit issued by the Renown company under their Gem Lights brand name in 1960.


First sold by Royal starting in 1949, these two figures were later offered by NOMA after the Royal Christmas factory burned in 1955. They remained on the market well into the 1960s. Originally holding Royal "crown" bubble lights, Santa now holds a NOMA "snap on" light and the Snowman holds a 1960s era NOMA light. These figures were marketed as both holiday decorations and as children's night lights. The snowman is much less common than Santa. Plastic decorative items such as these are often found with "melted" areas due to the power cords being wrapped around them.  The PVC used in making the vinyl cords contains plasticizers to make them soft and flexible. Also, traces of organic solvent used in the plastics' manufacturing remain in the cord, which diffuse out over time. When the cord is wrapped tightly around another item, both the pressure against the plastic and the residual organic chemicals in it can soften the plastic and cause it to creep.  This becomes more pronounced over long periods of time, and eventually results in the groove marks found on many old plastic pieces such as bubble light stands and figural pieces.  It is hard to find 1950s era plastic electrical decoratives without these melt marks. 

These figures were also sold holding a rubber or plastic tree instead of the bubble light, and were lit from within by a single bulb.


1940-1950 continues






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