Old Christmas Tree Lights
December 7, 2002 3:15 AM   Subscribe

Another "magnificent obsession" site, seasonally spiced: oldchristmaslights.com is a huge attic space, packed to the rafters with illuminating images and information; history and pre-history, manufacturer backgrounds, timeline, patents, vintage advertising, trivia - it's all here, plus a "Light Set Gallery" and more. Plug in and enjoy.
posted by taz (23 comments total)

 
There's a tremendous amount of material packed away into various niches and crannies; in addition to the featured bits, site-owner Bill also stores collections for others and offers hints and help on dating your lights. There are some other old photos tucked away in a box, as well as a set of novelty light figures and such items of interest as Bill's notebook, where he keeps track of new finds and does some light sleuthing ("light sleuthing" - get it? Get it?).

Like last year's string of twinkle lights, this place is a tangle of bright threads that can take some time to unravel... Aluminum trees? You want aluminum trees? The 1959 prototype model looks pretty scrawny compared to its far groovier 1963 offspring that sported such defining fillips as "pom-poms" ("Expect to pay a premium price for a pink tree, the rarest of all of the colors offered. Trees of any color that are especially full, or have the pom-pom branch ends will also command a premium price." History of the infamous silvery tree here.) Check the Contents page for a more complete listing, and if you are looking for something specific, you can also find the search function there.
posted by taz at 3:16 AM on December 7, 2002


Thanks taz, that's a great site. I never knew there were people collecting christmas lights, let alone making an extensive site about them.
posted by sebas at 3:46 AM on December 7, 2002


What a fabulous find, taz - absolutely beautiful page, and like sebas, I had no idea that holiday lights would be such a collectible. The variety is far more extensive than I ever realized. I also love all the cool packaging of days gone by. Great site!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:33 AM on December 7, 2002


The idea of having electrical christmas lights has always seemed strange - and a little sacriligeous - when you've been brought up with the idea that the only real christmas lights are wax candles (on a real christmas tree).

This is with almost no exception the way it is done in Denmark and Scandinavia, but is anybody still using real candles in America?


posted by cx at 5:42 AM on December 7, 2002


When I was a kid, candles were the terribly dangerous things that people *had* to use on their trees before Christmas lights were invented and wasn't I lucky to be living in an age where Christmas trees were safe. I wasn't told this in so many words, but that was definitely the impression I got.
posted by JanetLand at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2002


I wouldn't necessarily call it sacrilegious considering origins of the christmas tree.
posted by benjh at 6:19 AM on December 7, 2002


cx, I can only find a couple of examples (google caches; scroll to find the highlighted sections) on the web, and these two families both have some kind of connection to Germany...
posted by taz at 6:23 AM on December 7, 2002


Thank you, taz. I'm almost shaking with delight. I agree with madamjujujive about the packaging and advertising. Having that stuff makes this site incredible, but that's only the tip of the iceburg. Wow.

I'll be using C7 ceramic multicolor lights on the tree this year. First time since I was a kid. Can't wait.
posted by footballrabi at 7:10 AM on December 7, 2002


We had this guy , bubblers galore, snowman bulbs with the paint worn off--I like this post. In the 60s there was an antique store that used to be on Stewart Street near the Coffee Corral, whose owner collected old christmas lights, so I knew there was a market in these even back then
posted by y2karl at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2002


I don't have the time this AM to check it out here but wasn't it something like carbon tetrachloride that was the liquid in those bubblers? Not exactly EPA approved--I wonder what they use now.
posted by y2karl at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2002


Got a Mac? Check out the NightLights screensaver (freeware) available from Apple's downloads page. Your choice of minis and/or C7's, on your desktop. I'm alternating it with the Loops fireplace screensaver for maximum digital holiday goodness without the bother of kindling, burnt out bulbs, etc. Sentimental me.
posted by stonerose at 7:42 AM on December 7, 2002


y2karl, it was methylene chloride. Anatomy of the bubble light here.
posted by taz at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2002


Dear taz, you've made my day. I'm a nut about old Christmas lights, and these links are wonderful. Some of the gorgeous packaging images are destined to be wallpaper for my desktop.

Just last week I scored 4 strings of old yellow/red and blue/green bubble lights from my mother-in-law, all still in the original boxes. This morning I found 2 boxes of vintage (from the 40s) German hand blown glass ornaments (figures of clowns and snowmen and gingerbread houses and lanterns and dice) and one box of vintage (50s I think) mercury glass balls in the thrift shop down the street from me. The boxes (24 in each box) were selling for 4.00 each. I almost hyperventilated.

Is there a site that does a constant screen of a burning Yule log (like some televison channels in days of yore) on Chrismas Eve/day? That would be a kick.
posted by iconomy at 8:40 AM on December 7, 2002


I used to have a string of christmas light in my room, it was from my parents and would be over 30 years old now. I needed a plug so I cut that off, think I threw the rest away.

Oops.
posted by sebas at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2002


Is there a site that does a constant screen of a burning Yule log...?

WPIX in NYC has a yule log page with a few music selections to go along with it. They will even be running the video on TV Christmas morning. Only for a couple of hours though.

Click on the link, then choose "Yule Log" off to the left. Depending on your browser, you may also have to click the "Enter" tab to get to the feed room. Or just go to wb11.trb.com and click through.

Enjoy!
posted by lampshade at 9:08 AM on December 7, 2002


Splendid site!

Now if only I could find one selling the bamboo Christmas trees like those used in the Philippines....
posted by rushmc at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2002


Thanks, lampshade - I can't wait. And music, too!
posted by iconomy at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2002


Taz, you made my day, too. I was just sitting down at Metafilter to take a break from the arduous task of stringing lights and I found your post. And if anyone needs a nice string of animated Christmas lights to liven up an email, there are 3 here.
posted by Lynsey at 8:08 PM on December 7, 2002



How Christmas-ish!

I guess I would be considered something of a freak if I were to put real candles on my Christmas tree in the U.S. Still, I'd rather be a freak in that way since - as it is said in a Danish Christmas carol (my "translation"): Just turn the Universe upside down, the Earth as well - since it's in empty and false, just don't tamper with the old Christmas of mine."
posted by cx at 9:38 PM on December 7, 2002


Wow. I found one of those pink aluminum trees, going for about $1,000 US.

Iconomy, here's a page especially for you (I love this one). Sorry rushmc, couldn't find a bamboo tree - how 'bout a nice parol? (many more here.)
posted by taz at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2002


Cool, I somehow missed the whole parol thing the Christmas I spent in the Philippines. Thanks for the links, taz!
posted by rushmc at 9:38 AM on December 8, 2002


I love those as well, taz, especially this one - Christopher Radko ornaments are incredibly dear (about 40 US dollars for a small new one - I can't even begin to imagine how much the old ones go for, although I've seen 400.00 ones on ebay) and I don't own any, but would love to have just one.
posted by iconomy at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2002


Iconomy, the first Christmas we were together, my true love gave to me a Radko Frankenstein...cause ya know-- nothin' says "Our First Christmas" like a monster head.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:20 AM on December 9, 2002


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