December of 1946 was an exciting time for the Christmas lighting industry and for the consumer with the introduction of the new and innovative Christmas Bubble Light. Developed by Carl Otis who worked as an accountant for Montgomery Ward was inspired by the existing Glo-Lite candle and the existing Bubbler Juke Box, see pictures.
The first NOMA biscuits were sold in 1946 in a 9 light set complete with a 9 socket straight line cord set with alligator socket clips to attach to a tree branch. The box was a book type box with a flip up top on the front with a bubble light on the top and the NOMA Girl on the inside. This was a quality Christmas tree set and many are still existing today. See pictures.
In 1948 NOMA changed the style of their plastic base and we call these lamps NOMA flats, These were short lived due to the heat of the lamp being too intense for the small plastic base resulting in melting and warping. A specific box design was printed for these NOMA flats but was discontinued. These were only available until 1949 when NOMA changed back to the biscuit style, eliminated the book style box and used a lid type box with the NOMA girl printed on the cover. See pictures.
By 1948, other companies wanted in on the bubble light market without incurring copy right infringement. Raylite Electric of NY developed their own style of lamp called animated Kristal Snow using oil in the fluid tube which resulted in a slow moving action similar to the bubbles of champagne bottle. They made an intricate and beautiful Deco style plastic base including a ‘saucer’ and used a longer glass tube. See pictures.
Not to be left out, Royal Electric of Pawtuckett, RI developed their own style of bubble lamp calling it the Sparkling Bubble Lamp. Their tubes were filled with methylene chloride chloride producing fast bubbles and the plastic base was similar to the NOMA biscuit but with a concave top. The bases were either a solid color or a two color with the top and bottom being a different color. See pictures.
NOMA, Raylite and Royal were the largest and most notable producers of bubble lights and their were other smaller companies who tried their product design in this lucrative bubble light market. One such company was United States Electric better known as USAlite who developed a very pretty lamp base with a geometric design on the top plastic. Unfortunately, the plastic was thin and the base would melt and be misshapen. See picture.
Longtime Glow member Gene Teslovic provided this introduction to the earliest and most popular bubble lights and in future articles (on this site in the Blog section) he will cover additional companies who produced bubble lights through the early 1950’s.