christmas tree bubblers

Christmas tree bubblers

The Bubble Light Identification Page

Use the chart on this page to easily identify and date your bubbling lights. You will also be able to see how rare or common your bubbler is. Although only one base size is shown for each light, remember that many lights were offered in both miniature and candelabra base sizes. All pictures are clickable to enlarge. Notes about many of the varieties shown are both linked and listed alphabetically below the table of pictures.

NOMA Biscuit
1946-1947 1949-1962
miniature base
(CLICK for notes)

A Special Note:

Throughout the years the bubbling lights were sold, many companies sold their own bubbling lights under more than one division. Also, towards the end of the bubble light era (which this collector considers to be the mid-1960s), many companies were changing hands and/or going out of business. For these reasons, many otherwise identical bubbling lights were sold under different names. Here is a chart of what I’ve been able to find out about this “cross merchandising”.

Picture Original Brand Name Also sold as
Renown Hofert’s Northern Lights
Coby Co-Lo-Lites
(TIMCO) Thomas Company
Gem Electric (Gemlites)
NOMA Glolite
Peerless NOMA
Timco (Thomas Company)
Universal (Canada)
Holly St. Nick
World-Wide NOMA-World-Wide
Santa Lites McCrory’s
Seda Reliance Spark-L-Lite


ALPS – This company was a Japanese manufacturer, and their bubble light was most uncommon. Instead of using a plastic base like the other makers, the ALPS product was actually an outside-painted figural lamp with a bubble tube attached to the top. This arrangement did not prove to be very effective, as the lights gave poor service life, and the heat transfer between the figural lamp and the bubble tube was quite poor. In addition, the bubbling tube was simply glued to the top of the base, which made the configuration quite delicate. My personal belief is that ALPS purchased at least some of their bubbling tubes from the NOMA company, as several examples in my collection have the glass slug within the tubes, a feature exclusive to NOMA products. After production of these lights ceased, the glass bases continued to be offered as figural lights, and apparently NOMA bought back their bubble tubes, as I have found a few NOMA bubblers with the typical flared bottom bubbling tubes that were apparently made for the ALPS lights. Exact production dates for the lights is not known, but it must have been a very short time. Despite the poor quality and inexpensive appearance of these lights, they are highly desired by collectors and are considered by most to be some of the rarest of all known bubbling lights. The ALPS Company also issued the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs figural light set, along with toys and mechanical Christmas, Space and Fantasy themed battery operated figures during the late 1940s and 50s, and into the early 1960s. (BACK to picture)

ClemCo Snap-On- Made for only three years, these very hard to find lights were extremely susceptible to heat damage and were often discarded. The plastic would distort so badly that the unit would no longer clamp over the lamp. these were sold as snap-on models, meaning the plastic body would simply snap over an existing C-6 or C-7 lamp on the tree. (BACK to picture)

Holly – These lights were made of a very heavy-duty and extremely heat resistant plastic that was thicker than the plastic of any other maker. The handy tree clips were an integral part of each bubbling lamp. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Biscuit- The first bubbling light sold to the public, and the most common of all. There are slight production variations available to serious collectors, but most commonly found are the post 1950 bubblers that have no glass slug in the bubbling tube. A true classic, which all other companies tried to imitate, with varying results. NOMA discontinued manufacture of the lights in 1960, but continued to sell factory stock until their bankruptcy in 1965. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Rocket- Manufactured for only two years (1961 and 1962), NOMA briefly tried to take advantage of the population’s rising interest in the American space program of that time. The plastic was quite susceptible to the high temperatures of the light bulb that was used, and most often these examples will be found damaged due to heat distortion. Dr. Bill Laughlin kindly wrote to me recently, and provided the following information about the Rocket lights: The NOMA Rocket bubble lights were designed by Frank Pettit, who previously had worked for the Lionel Corporation, maker of the famous trains. Mr. Pettit worked for NOMA LITES from 1959 to 1962 as their design director. His designs included color wheels, tree stands, various Christmas decorations such as angels and carolers, and the highly collectible NOMA Rocket Bubble Lights. He also designed the well known Lionel Model 455 Oil Derrick, which used a standard bubble light tube to simulate oil. Dr. Laughlin reports that the book: It Comes From Within-The Frank Pettit Story, published by the Myron Biggar Group, has pictures of the derrick and references Mr. Pettit’s work with NOMA LITES. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Saucer- For unknown reasons, NOMA briefly changed to this style of bubbling light in 1948. It soon became evident that the saucer shape was far too easily damaged by heat from the contained light bulb, and NOMA promptly switched back to their famous biscuit shape in 1949. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Snap-On- This product was an effort to make a bubbling light that would snap over existing lights with either a C-6 or C-7 glass envelope size. Although an effective product, it suffered the fate of most of the early 1940s-1950s plastics-heat damage. The lights would warp to the point that the parts that clamped the unit to the light bulb would not stay together. (BACK to picture)

NOMA Tulip – This bubbler is NOMA’s offering of a parallel wired candelabra base light, sold in sets so that if one or more lamps failed, it would not cause the entire string to go dark. The top half of the base of these lights is the saucer that was unsuccessfully used in the 1948 series wired bubbling lamps. NOMA discontinued manufacture of the lights in 1960, but continued to sell factory stock until their bankruptcy in 1965.(BACK to picture)

Paramount Biscuit- After NOMA lost their patents on the bubbling lights, Paramount offered their own style of biscuit bubbling light starting in 1950. Quite similar in shape to NOMA’s bubblers, the lights continued to be manufactured virtually unchanged until 1972. Earlier offerings from Paramount were the saucer shaped lights also pictured and discussed on this page below. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Oil– The earliest bubbling lights sold by Raylite/Paramount were what the Company called Kristal Snow Animated Candles. The tubes of these bubblers contained oil instead of the methylene chloride used by NOMA, in an attempt to circumvent their patents. The first year’s (1947) production of these lights used white top and bottom base halves instead of base halves that matched the ring color, and the tubes themselves were a bit longer than what is shown above. Pictured is a 1948 light, with the shorter tube and a clear base ring. The oil used in these lights bubbles with a very fine bubbling action, and the tubes contain bits of pumice as a bubbling activator. This fact makes it easy to determine whether or not your saucer type Paramount light is oil or methylene chloride, as the non-oil tubes do not include the pumice bits. The oil lights are quite rare, and are highly sought by collectors. See also the note below about the Paramount Saucer lights. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Saucer – While the battle was raging between Raylite (Paramount) and NOMA over the bubble light patents, PARAMOUNT blatantly offered their own bubblers using methylene chloride, despite the fact that the court cases had not yet been settled. Once the case was finally decided, NOMA had lost and Paramount almost immediately offered their own biscuit-style bubbling lights (see above). See the notes above on the Paramount Oil lights as well. (BACK to picture)

Paramount Tulip- This particular bubbling light is still being made today, although not by Paramount. Beginning in 1951, the Company sold these candelabra base lights in huge quantities, until the molds were sold to ACLA (American Christmas Lighting Association) in 1973. Many companies subsequently sold this base style under their own names, and even today the lights can be found under the NOMA Nostalgia brand name. (BACK to picture)

Peerless- The bubblers from Peerless were made after their well-known Shooting Star cousins, which are described below. After NOMA lost their patent on bubbling lights, companies were free to manufacture the lights any way they saw fit. Using the same plastic housing as the Shooters, Peerless issued these lights with the now-standard methylene chloride chemical in the tubes, which was by far the cheapest and most effective chemical to use. (BACK to picture)

Peerless Shooting Star- Another effort to circumvent the NOMA patents resulted in the Peerless Shooting star bubbling lights. Consisting of two dissimilar liquids, the bubblers allow the formation of many small bubbles, which subsequently rise rapidly through the first liquid, then fall slowly through the second, imitating the effects of fireworks. These bubbling lights are very hard to find today, and are quite collectible, commanding high prices. The lights were offered in both miniature and candelabra base lamps, and are most often found toady with faded colors in the tubes. (BACK to picture)

Polly Snap-On- This bubbler is very similar to the SEDA Snap On bubble lights, except that all Leo Pollock brand bubble lights had a reeded or ribbed bubble tube, unique to the company. Like the SEDA models, these lights were very susceptible to heat damage and are extremely hard to find today. (BACK to picture)

Reliance Spark-L-Lite – These lights were not made for long, and were extremely susceptible to heat damage. In addition, the bottom housing components were put together with an adhesive that ran and discolored the bases when heated. Not a very successful product, and hard to find in pristine condition today. It is interesting to note that the starburst surround for the lights is almost identical to the starburst surround found on Paramount Starlights. (BACK to picture)

Renown Biscuit – Made to imitate NOMA’s biscuit and capitalize on their sales, these bubblers usually have shorter bubbling tubes than most other lights. (BACK to picture)

Royal Biscuit – Made in both solid color and two-color versions, these Royal biscuits were huge sellers, second only to NOMA’s bubble lights. The solid color lights are earlier than the bi-color examples. The activator chemicals used in the tubes are large crystals, which discolor with age. In addition, the base halves are often misaligned, and many examples can be found with glue dribbles from sloppy manufacturing evident. (BACK to picture)

Royal Crown – These lights were Royal’s offering of candelabra based lights, and both halves of the base were of the same color, molded to resemble a crown. The bubble tubes are the largest that were incorporated into any of the bubble lights. Sold both single and in sets of seven with a cord, these lights were the ones included with the popular Santa and Snowman bubble light holding figures described below. (BACK to picture)

Royal Bubbling Figures- Immensely popular sellers, these figures were sold both as decorations and for use as children’s nightlights. When the Royal Christmas decoration factory burned in 1955, the molds were sold to NOMA, who continued to produce them as bubble light holders and as stand-alone illuminated figures, holding a green plastic (or, later in production, rubber) Christmas tree instead of a bubbler. The Santa figure is far easier to find than the Snowman, who sells for about twice as much to a collector. (BACK to picture)

Santa Lites- These inexpensive lights were made in Japan and were designed to closely resemble the NOMA biscuit shape. The difference can be noted due to the ring around the middle of the base, where both halves of the base are joined. A genuine NOMA biscuit will not have the ring. (BACK to picture)

SEDA- Little is known about this unusual snap-on type of bubble light, with a cone shaped base and five holly leaf-like extensions surrounding the base. These lights were also sold by the Leo Pollock Company under the “Polly” brand name late in their business years, circa 1948-1949. Light will snap over either a C-6 or C-7 Christmas lamp, essentially allowing the bubbling part to last indefinitely. The holly leaves were quite brittle, and most examples found today have one or more leaves missing or chipped. (BACK to picture)

USALITE – Made in both candelabra and miniature base sizes, the bubbling lights from USALITE were discontinued in 1958, only to be brought back again for another production run from 1973-1978. (BACK to picture)

World Wide- In the mid 1960s, NOMA filed for bankruptcy, and was taken over by a Japanese company named World Wide. That company briefly offered these very poor quality bubble lights, which were quite small and poor imitations of the NOMA biscuits. They had an extremely short bulb life. (BACK to picture)

The Internet’s largest most complete history of Christmas Tree Lighting in North America.