Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page
Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page

Editor's Notes about the "Expanded" 2008 Old Christmas Tree Lights Pages:

The history of Christmas lighting, and especially Christmas tree lighting was an avocation for authors, collectors, and brothers Bill and George Nelson. Bill Nelson started a site about antique Christmas tree lighting about 1999 and maintained it until health issues overtook him. In 2004, Bill's brother George began adding significant upgrades additions. But by early 2008, health problems caught up with George, and he, too, stopped working on the site.

It's worth noting that both Bill and George created remarkable resources, considering that they were self-taught webmasters. So, this site is a tribute, not only to early Christmas tree lights and the folks who made and marketed them, but also to Bill and George's hard work, which was almost lost. For more information about the extensive efforts to restore and preserve these resources, please visit our Restoring the Resources page.

Most of the links below link to materials that George Nelson had on his version of the site between 2006 and 2008, though they weren't all on the site at the same time - George was constantly moving things around, adding topics about things he liked, and removing topics that he didn't think related.

Update for 2015: Longtime readers have noticed that, when George built his version of the site, he "left out" several of the pages from Bills version. For your convenience, we have begun transplanting those "missing pages" to this site, starting with Bill's pages for the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In the process, we fixed many broken links, restored many missing graphics, and fixed many coding glitches. We will probably stiill find problems with the restored pages - we always do - but for now at least they're available without forcing you to go back to the 2003 site looking for them. As time permits, we will try to transplant other "missing" pages from Bill's version of the site here as well. We realize that for some folks that ruins the "integrity" of this archive. If you feel that way, you can see our original reconstruction of George's 2008 site here

About Permissions

As explained in our Restoring the Resources, every file on this site has been updated to work with modern browsers, etc. As a favor to future readers, I have removed the "please ask for permission" scripts on every page. So if you want to download a photo for your personal use, you don't have to jump through hoops.

However, this site is NOT public domain, and I would ask that you not copy and repost whole sections or pages. Any bit you do reuse on your own web pages should have a reference such as the following:

    Source: Bill and George Nelson's Antique Christmas Lights Museum. For more information, see

For More Information:

  • If you have questions about antique Christmas lighting, try the collectors' sites in our links page, which I hope to update soon.

  • If you have any questions, comments, criticisms, additions, about this site itself, please contact us, and we will try to get back to you soon.

Keep in Touch

We're always glad to hear from readers so contact us as often as you think of anything worth passing on to us or your fellow readers. Sadly, we don't have a mailing list for this site, but we do have one about Christmas stuff in general, including crafts, music, and memorabilia. If you would like to subscribe to the Family Christmas Online Newsletter, click here.. Right now we only send out 2-3 a year, but we're hoping to improve on that as our mailing list grows. Keep in touch. Sign up for the Family Christmas Online™ Newsletter

As we say on the Family Christmas Online page, our hope is that our resources can continue helping you and your family (as Dickens said of Scrooge):

    Honor Christmas in your heart, and
    "try to keep it all the year."

In the meantime, may God grant you joy and wonder every season of this year,

Paul Race, Family Christmas Online(tm)

For more information, please contact us.

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Preface: Christmas Tree Lights Without Electricity
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:   Early 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

                                           The NILCO Company 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.

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:   The Fifties, 1950-1959 
Parallel bulbs end the "if one goes out they all go out" problem, just in time for mini-lights to start reintroducing it.

  • Page 1: A few samples to show the growing variety.
  • Page 2: The introduction of "fairy lights."
  • Page 3: Early twinklers and more variation.
  • Page 4: Originally called "A Look Beyond the Fifties," this chapter briefly relates the rise of aluminum Christmas trees
Chapter Eight:  The Sixties
The beginning of the end of US-made Christmas lights.
  • Page 1: More "fairy lights," and more experimentation with C-7 lights.
  • Page 2: Mirostar lighted Christmas decorations
  • Page 3: More variety in home-grown and imported sets.
  • Page 4: A peek at Chris Cuff's collection of miniature light strands.
Chapter Nine:  The Seventies
Dominance of imported lights
  • Page 1: Novelty lights and straight-line mini-lights
  • Page 2: More novelty lights, C-7 twinklers, bubblers, and Avon figural reproductions

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

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

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

Chapter Fourteen:   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 Fifteen:   Just For Fun, some Music of Christmas Past
This page presents some very vintage recordings of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Christmas music,
recorded on Thomas Edison Cylinder records. - Newly Restored! To my knowledge this content is
unavailable anywhere else, even on archive sites.

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

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

Chapter Nineteen:   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 Twenty:    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 Twenty-One:   The Patent Pages
A presentation of interesting Christmas related patents filed over the years.

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

Welcome Page   

Note: OldChristmasTreeLights™ and FamilyChristmasOnline™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications™ (
The original subject matter content and illustrations on™ are Copyright (c) 2008 by George Nelson.
All updated HTML code, editorial comments, and reformatted illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
Old Christmas Tree Lights(tm) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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