Pictured above are some comparisons between wartime packaging and Depression-era packaging. The boxes on the top row are from the Thirties, while their counterparts pictured on the second row are wartime boxes. Manufacturers had many more lighting strings in inventory than they did boxes, and when it came time to print more containers, the colors were much less vivid to save precious supplies. Also, the collector will notice that wartime era boxes are of much thinner construction than those from the Depression era.
An exception to the lackluster packaging was this set from the NOMA Company. Because they were the largest Christmas lighting manufacturer in the world, NOMA had a good stock of both boxes and lighting strings, and was able to supply lighting outfits like the one pictured above through about 1943.
Here are some other outfits that were sold both in the Thirties and up through 1942:
As mentioned before, NOMA was able to manufacture a line of wooden toys during the war years. Surprisingly, the company also manufactured bombs and fireworks under their newly-formed Triumph Industries division. It is ironic to note that NOMA-made bombs were used in the war to heavily damage many Japanese factories, figural Christmas light factories included. Those same factories would later rebuild, and their products, imported quite cheaply in the 1950s and 60s, were to become one of the major factors in the eventual bankruptcy of NOMA Lites, Incorporated.
During the war years, NOMA president Henri Sadacca had been buying up different companies, running them all under the NOMA Electric Corporation umbrella. Some of these companies included the Ansonia Electrical Company (electric wire and cable), the previously mentioned Triumph Industries (bombs, munitions and fireworks), the Estate Stove Company (electric and gas ranges for the military and later for consumer use), the Refrigeration Corporation of America (commercial and later, home freezers), Effanbee Incorporated (among their products was Noma, the talking doll), and the Ward Heater Company (military and later, home heating equipment). Other major lighting companies diversified as well, including Paramount (Raylite) and Royal Electric. All of the major companies survived the war, and the smaller companies that didn't were snapped up by the likes of NOMA and Paramount.
By 1943, there were no Christmas lighting strings or light bulbs to be had. NOMA ads pushing their Woodies line of toys carried the message that "With Peace, NOMA Christmas Lights Would Be Back."
On September 2, 1945, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the instrument of surrender aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, officially ending World war II. With just three months until Christmas, none of the lighting companies could gear up for the season, and it would take two more years until all of the demand for Christmas light outfits and bulbs could be satisfied.
One notable exception was Sylvania, who, in
to introduce their totally new fluorescent Christmas lighting outfit,
which was quite a novelty. The price was a big concern, as the set sold
for more than four times what an average lighting outfit did, but since it was
one of the few sets available for sale in that year, it did
surprisingly well for a couple of years. However, the expense,
coupled with the fact that the lamps were not nearly as bright as
conventional Christmas lights, brought about their downfall in 1948 or
1949. These lamps are so long-lived that an amazing number of them survive
in working condition to this day.
End of Chapter
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