Don Lachie's Pages


Hello, and welcome to my collection of Christmas tree lights from the past. Along with lights, my collection includes electric window candles and wreaths, tree tops and stands, as well as a small sampling of basic early Christmas tree decorations.
Beautiful illuminated stands provided a glowing start for your tree, and were complimented by a bright topper crowning the peak. Candles gave way to simple, early lights that in turn evolved into extraordinarily detailed figural lamps. Some of these figurals were truly works of art, with meticulous detail and quality.   

In the 1940s, bubble lights arrived, and various decorative light covers of many types- even including fine crystal- became popular. Unfortunately over the years, much of this wide variety and attention to fine detail was lost in the name of mass production which makes these rare and cherished heirlooms a brilliant and fleeting part of our history.


I began collecting vintage Christmas items partly because of the appeal of past traditions, and their connection to the happy times and memories of the Christmas holidays. Trees and their lighting hold a special fascination for me, as the warm and inviting glow of lights was an attractive and relaxing beacon in the dark, cold night. Indoors, the light carried you closer to the magic of glowing lamps that always seemed to make even the most simple, straggly Christmas tree exude the special splendor of the season. 

Even now, I am searching for more of these wonderful items to share with future generations, and preserve a brief moment in time that all too quickly disappeared and is destined to be forgotten. I hope that you will discover an interesting and enjoyable display of early Christmas as you view these unique vintage items that are so completely different than the lights and tree trimmings that are available today.


I sincerely thank fellow collector and friend Bill Nelson for this special opportunity to share my collection with you, and hope that you have an enjoyable visit.  May you recall many happy memories of past Christmas seasons or perhaps find some interesting new ones here.

Please feel free to e-mail me HERE with any questions or comments you may have.

-Don Lachie


The original Christmas tree lights, candles like these were used from the origination of the decorated tree in Europe until electric lights gradually became more popular in America in the 1920's.  Prior to the use of electric lights, trees were left up for only a brief period of time. A candlelit tree was a truly spectacular sight- one that would never grow old. Traditionally, candlelit trees were lit only twice during the season: Christmas morning, and again later that evening as the family gathered round the tree for Christmas meditation and prayers.

Shown here are examples of the candles and spring type metal clips that were most commonly used on trees to keep the candles attached to the branches.  Some holders had a nail-like pin that was pushed into the branch rather than a clip.  Before these, the basic candleholder was a pendulum type made with a stiff wire connecting the candleholder with a lead, clay or painted metal counterweight.  A bend in the wire rested on the branch and the counterweight would help keep the candle straight as it's weight pulled downward.


Here is a Noma Christmas Candle Lantern, circa 1928. This metal lantern held a large glass candleholder that had one third of each side green, red and clear so the user could choose the preferred color by simply turning the glass holder.  Notice the Propp Electric "One For All" motto on the lid, indicating that the unit was manufactured after the 1928 merger with the NOMA organization.  While its intended use is a bit unclear, it is most likely a parade or caroling lantern.  It could also be handy in the home to help during power outages, which occurred much more frequently in the early days of electricity. In later years, NOMA made similar hand held battery powered figural lanterns. Among their most popular was a glowing Santa.


Here is a circa 1910 assortment of early carbon filament exhaust tip C-6 series Christmas tree lamps.  The top four lamps and the one in the center of the picture are Edison style, made of both clear and colored glass.( It is interesting to note that the red color was especially costly to produce, as it was created by adding real gold to the glass mixture. Unlit, this ruby glass was almost black in appearance.) The sharp exhaust tip at the top of the lamps is a result of the air being removed through a clear glass tube attached to the colored glass envelope and then sealed shut, forming the exhaust tip or point.  In later years a method was developed to place this tip at the bottom so that it is hidden by the metal threaded base.  The filament was made of carbon and is a tall "U" shape, often referred to as a "hairpin' type filament, easily visible in clear lamps  These carbon filament lamps burned extremely hot, and were not of consistent brightness due to variables of the carbon production process. The early carbon filaments were often made from bamboo!
 The bottom three lamps in the picture are electrically similar to the Edison carbon lamps. They were produced in Germany and Austria with very decorative textured clear glass and were painted with colors that are usually found to be faded or peeling from the extreme heat produced as the lamps operated. They are often referred to as "pinecone" lamps and are also found in the much less common true colored-glass variety. Later examples of pinecone lamps can be found with tungsten filaments as well.


Fancy C-6 series "Milk Glass Candles".  A white milk glass candle was topped by a clear glass flame that was then painted in various colors.  The exhaust tip on the top makes for a very nice flame effect.  Candles like these are often found with missing paint, and are extremely rare in any condition. These beauties were only manufactured from about 1910 to 1915.


Lighted Silvered Ornament Lamps like the ones pictured here were produced around 1938. Only offered in C-6 series size, they were made in both Germany and Japan.  These very rare lights unfortunately are most often found in non-working condition as the silvered coating of the glass reflected the heat rather than allowing its escape, which resulted in a much shorter filament life.


Here is a group of assorted figural lamps, all 14-16 volt for series use.  For the most part, the oldest lights were made of clear glass and have hairpin carbon filaments, and were produced from 1915 and after. The more recent lamps, made of white milk glass, are from 1922 and later and employ tungsten filaments.  The older clear glass figurals commonly came from Germany and Austria, and featured intricate detail and rich, beautiful colors that are very realistic, almost as a tiny sculpture of the item. While there are exceptions, most of the milk glass lamps normally have simpler designs, minimal painting and fewer colors. 







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