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-   -   Vintage Christmas Tree lights (https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/showthread.php?t=54943)

petertheorgan 4th Jun 2010 10:20 pm

Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
4 Attachment(s)
I am sure I am not the only person on this forum who likes collecting, and getting to work, vintage Christmas lights. I, for one, was delighted to see a thread a few months ago showing 1950s and 1960s televisions in snap shots showing the family Christmas tree.
I Digress. A week ago I was given, by a patient, two very dirty sets of lights and a number of spare bulbs, most of which were working. Both sets had been cut short so I thought the best thing to do was to make one complete set with a couple of extra lampholders to reduce the running voltage on the bulbs. Anyway, two evenings later, this is the result!
I hope you like the vintage mains connector. Next year it will join the electrical Christmas tree, under the real one.

cheers, Peter.

KeithsTV 4th Jun 2010 10:29 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
I'm sure my mother still has the set of lights we used to hang on the Xmas tree. These must date from the 50s and I'm sure some of the bulbs are original. they look similar to the lights in the pictures.

Keith

Sideband 4th Jun 2010 10:42 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
This is similar to the old 12 light set we had when I was a child. I seem to remember that the bulbs were made by Vesta and came in a variety of shapes including a Father Christmas head, lanterns, snowflakes as well as the traditional pointed ones here. We had them for years until it became difficult to get replacement bulbs.

SB

Steve_P 4th Jun 2010 11:45 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Olive Cone Bulbs they were called when I was a lad. I would love a set myself, as Christmas Tree Lights (or Fairy Lights) are partly responsible for me being here now....

Not all cone shaped though. There were some interesting designs.

Cheers,

Steve P.

Ian E G7OLT 5th Jun 2010 12:02 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
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Sadly, I collect Christmas lights too.

I usually run a 6' tree full (8 or so sets) at 180V through an isolation transformer each Christmas. Attached a picture of 1 set.

Regards,

Ian

repairman 1234 5th Jun 2010 2:40 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Quote:

Sadly, I collect Christmas lights too.
We used to have the santa's head lights when i was a tot, would be nice to see a picture of them again if anyone has them.:thumbsup:

fidobsa 5th Jun 2010 8:53 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
I would have thought the series connected lights represented the ultimate in frustration when a bulb has blown! There are probably some '60s sets up in my mothers loft I can dig out when I'm down south. I will offer them FOC on this site rather than bin them.

Darren-UK 5th Jun 2010 8:59 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
They did indeed. You had to grab a spare bulb and try each position in turn until you found the duff one >:(.

In searching for a picture of the originals I discovered Santa lights are available from here. No doubt if these people do them, so do others.

I remember my parents having a set of Santa lights forty or so years ago. Santa was the familiar red and white, no other colours, had a stout body with 'proper' - albeit dumpy - legs, but the arms were merely raised parts of the body moulding and didn't protrude like the legs did.

My parents also had a set of lantern lights around the same time. All very charming, far more so than the 'cold' looking LED stuff you get these days.

Ian E G7OLT 5th Jun 2010 9:38 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
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See the picture below for instructions on how to find a defective lamp! I should point out that this is an early American 120V set. Do not do this at home. Today's Health and Safety people would go ballistic.

If you can't read the text on the picture, I have typed it out below . . .



TO LOCATE A DEFECTIVE LAMP.

1. Turn on the electric current and make sure the lamps are screwed in tightly.

2. Take out the lamp and insert a piece of metal into the socket, either a screwdriver or nail. If upon inserting this piece of metal, the other seven lamps light, you have located the defective lamp.

3. If the outfit does not light, screw back the first lamp tightly and remove the second lamp, perform the same operation until you get seven lamps to light.

AndiiT 5th Jun 2010 9:46 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Hi,
I too have a number of "vintage" Christmas lights in my collection. Like a lot of vintage equipment some have been obtained form car boot sales and others from the likes of eBay. In a similar fashion to Steve P, Christmas lights are also partly resposible for my love of vintage elctrical stuff!!

Recently I have obtained a couple of non - working "lilliput bulb" sets which are identical to some that we owned when I was a youngster. Whilst not wishing to upset the purists too much, due to a number of factors, I have considered either converting them to LED, or in the case of the set which has detachable shades, just purchasing a cheapo set form the 1 shop and finding a method of securing the shades to them.

As a child, I recall one of my friends parents having a set of Bubble lights, these were a sort of candle shaped affair, with the glass tubes that represented the candles flame filed with a (coloured?) liquid that bubbled as the heat from the lamps increased as they warmed up.
There were only eight 30Volt bulbs in these lights so they ran rather hot.

One of the most interesting sets that I recall as a child was the set of "Sputnik" lights in on of our major towns (Redcar) butchers window, these lights flashed in what seemed like a controlled sequence, but they may have just been two seperately intertwined series sets with a flasher bulb in each string, I do remember that there was definetely four plaited wires in the string so they must have been manufactured like that.


When I get round to it I'l post some pictures of my sets, it might be closer to Christmas though!!

Regards
Andrew

repairman 1234 5th Jun 2010 11:00 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren-UK (Post 335786)
In searching for a picture of the originals I discovered Santa lights are available from here. No doubt if these people do them, so do others.

Thanks for that,

The santa lights i remember were just the head (no body or legs at all i think)
They are my earliest memory of the first Christmas that i can remember (maybe '74 ish)

Radio_Dave 5th Jun 2010 11:01 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
I've got some broken ones, in my loft, that are shaped like Father Christmas, snowmen and houses etc. IIRC there's even some shaped like budgerigars:shrug:

David

Darren-UK 5th Jun 2010 11:29 am

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Quote:

there's even some shaped like budgerigars
Cheep to buy, presumably.

russell_w_b 5th Jun 2010 12:30 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AndiiT (Post 335798)
As a child, I recall one of my friends parents having a set of Bubble lights, these were a sort of candle shaped affair, with the glass tubes that represented the candles flame filed with a (coloured?) liquid that bubbled as the heat from the lamps increased as they warmed up.

Some friends of ours have some of those - still in use every Christmas!

The fairy-lights I remember were the cone-shaped translucent coloured glass lamps, about 2" long, with a regular MES thread on them.

Roger-M0TDM 5th Jun 2010 1:52 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Hi,I beleive i've got some of the santa head ones,lurking at the back of the loft,will dig them out when i get the chance...
Regards Roger.

evingar 5th Jun 2010 2:58 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren-UK (Post 335786)
All very charming, far more so than the 'cold' looking LED stuff you get these days.

Funny how things change. When blue LEDs first appeared, I managed to get X20 that were built into prototype equipment at work when it "hit the skip". I constructed a set of lights and they were hung onto a tree decorated solely with silver tinsel. They were a real talking point and stood out from all the multicoloured stuff everyone is so "dewy eyed" about now.

Now everybody has such things, I too appreciate the "retro charm" of the older technology though ;)

Dave Moll 5th Jun 2010 3:17 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Darren-UK (Post 335788)
You had to grab a spare bulb and try each position in turn until you found the duff one

... or discovered that more than one was duff.:angry:

Then someone came up with the bright idea of introducing a "fuse" bulb - simply one which ran hotter than the others and was identifiable as such. Spot the "fuses" in the selection below from my collection.

Attachment 36660

On the subject of santa head bulbs etc - we used to have a selection of santas, snowmen and the like (purchased, as I recall from Woolworths - now also sadly defunct). Over the years since they ceased to be available, they one by one got replaced by the standard oval-shaped bulbs as they blew. This is the only "novelty" bulb still in my possession:

Attachment 36661

yestertech 5th Jun 2010 4:48 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Oooooooooooh ! Nostalgia
I remember these on the tree as a Kid. The regular cone shaped lamps and the "novelty" ones. I'm sure I still have them in a box rescued from my parent move 20 years ago. I'm certain there's a father xmas one in there... and the Osram ones with the "bell" shades.
I still recall rigging one of these holders and shade from a defunct set as a "parental alert" ,activated by a pressure switch under the carpet outside...

We also had what we called "bubble lights" - these came from some American friends ( 110v parallel fed ) and had an MES lamp fitted into what looked light an inverted shade. In the top was a hole into which fitted a glass vial containing a liquid, which bubbled upwards when it reached the correct temperature.
They were run with a series lamp fitted out of sight underneath the tree.

Anyone remember these ?

Last time I looked at them, the plastic bases were self destrucitng and twisting out of shape.

Happy Days !!

Andy

Ian E G7OLT 5th Jun 2010 4:57 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Back in the 1930s, some American manufactured lamps had neon gas inserted. When a bulb failed and the filament parted, the gas glowed dimly to aid identification of the faulty lamp.

Later on 'permanent contact' lamps were introduced. They contain an 'anti-fuse' which does the opposite of a fuse. A fuse fails open-circuit and an anti-fuse fails short-circuit. If you examine the base of a bulb closely, and in order to do this you'll have to remove the cap, you can see what looks like three or four turns of wire around the two wire pins where they come through the glass envelope. This is the anti-fuse.

Normally, if the bulb is working fine, there will be circa 20V across the anti-fuse, which doesn't conduct. If the filament fails, the full 240V mains appears across the anti-fuse which conducts, effectively shorting out the faulty lamp.

The fuse bulb came next. Why? Because once a lamp fails, the 20V that was dropped across it now appears across the remaining good 11 lamps. A second or third failure means all the remaining bulbs are in danger of failing in a catastrophic chain reaction . . . . BANG! 8-o

The fuse bulb has no anti-fuse and the filament is specifically designed to be the weakest in the string, so it blows before a chain reaction can start. Fuse bulbs are clear glass and marked with white painted tip.

The Vesta figural bulbs mentioned further up this thread are highly prized by collectors. I've seen mint sets in the original boxes and one spare lamp sell for over 100.

AndiiT 5th Jun 2010 6:35 pm

Re: Vintage Christmas Tree lights
 
Hi Again,
On the subject of figural and novelty bulbs Woolworths use to sell a large selection of these, usually in packs of three, Santa Heads, Chinese lantern style, Snowmen and "Budgerigars are some of the ones that I can recall.

Pifco also produced a "Jack Frost" set of Olive cone lamps which were clear lamps covered in a coloured opaque "frosting". Over a period of time the frosting used to peel off as a result of the lamps getting hot.

There were also a couple of 16 lamp sets that I recall seeing as a child, one was styled in a similar fashion to some of the 20 lamp lilliput "petal" style shades and the other used a smaller version of the Olive cone type, I seem to recall that the latter type were a Woolworths special; both 16 lamp sets used an ES screw type that fell somewhere inbetween LES and MES dimensions, i.e. it was a non - standard fitting.

As a child one of our neighbours was lucky enough to have two bay windows, side by side, to decorate. He had at least two sets of figural 12 light sets wired together in series across the two bays!

Andrew


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