Welcome to the Yule lights blog! Here is where you'll find more information
about my website devoted to classic
Christmas lights and decorations of the postwar baby boom era, from the 1950s to the 1980s.
I started creating this site in 2002 as a way of learning web design and finally put it up in May of 2007.
From May 2007 until August 2011 the site was hosted as a "freebie" website included with internet service. Then the dreaded 404 not found message appeared. After calling my internet service provider, I found out they cleared out a lot of old sites, including mine. At that point I decided to restore the Yule Lights Collection as a stand-alone website. It took another 2 months to register a domain name, set up a hosting account and finally re launch in early October 2011.
Updated- Some of the coding on this site is quite old. For example, the buttons on the home page and the banners are created with a program called My WebStudio by Elibriun that dates to 2001, so it will only run under Windows XP. That's ancient history in computer technology!
Here are links to other Christmas related subjects.
An archived website dedicated to The Goodyear Christmas albums.
Record album box sets from The Readers Digest Association.
To see my Christmas lights videos go to Radiopackrat's channel.
Now for a brief autobiography.
Many years ago my father, rest his soul, used to fix pinball machines. Among the parts he kept were a collection of miniature light bulbs. Most of them were clear bayonet base bulbs but back then they were just fascinating glass globes with wires inside! Eventually I figured out how to connect a bulb to flashlight batteries to get them to light up. After that my interest in light bulbs took off. Other lighting projects I made over the years include the Radio Shack "Goofy Lite" neon bulb flasher (I'm showing my age here) and a home built xenon strobe light. Building a strobe light is a rite of passage for any bulb freak! I've worked with light emitting diodes since they only came in 3 colors, red, yellow, and green.
I consider myself a techie because I have to figure out how something works and if it doesn't work then fixing it becomes a challenge.
How do I feel about Christmas?
First ,there is no such thing as a "bad" holiday display. All displays are nice, from the simplest to those enormous ones you see on the evening news.
Although displaying an inflatable Nativity is pushing the boundary of good taste. (But that's only my opinion).
Well, O.K. there are a few things that annoy me about "the holidays"
First, it seems like Christmas arrives earlier every year. Traditionally, Christmas started right after Thanksgiving. Then it started after Halloween. now, there are all out store displays before Halloween ! Enough of this already !
Then there are those folks who leave their outdoor lights up year-round. Maybe you think you are saving work, but it looks tacky, the light sets get weathered from sun and rain, and it's an electrical code violation. Yes I take my lights and decorations down after Christmas.
By the way, I am the multi-color lights type.
So how did I acquire my collection?
It was obtained from a variety of sources. So from the least expensive to the most, here goes. First some items were passed down to me from my parents, some were bought at garage sales (why would anyone want to sell their garage?) also consignment and thrift shops - the Salvation Army and Goodwill thrift stores are a great source. Then there are antique shops, though they are somewhat more expensive. One antiquing hot spot I often go to is the Delaware Water Gap of Pennsylvania, along Route 611 from Portland to the town of Delaware Water Gap. Updated - the antique stores have given way to online shops now. (see below)
Finally there's ebaY. It's a great place for hard to find and even common stuff, just
don't expect a bargain.
I've bought General Electric Lighted Ice and Stardust bulbs, Merry Midget light sets and other bulbs there to fill out my collection.
I only had one bad experience so far with a seller who neglected to mention that a vintage box had water damage. That was bad enough, but what really annoyed me was that the seller put tape on the set's box to close it up prior to shipping. You NEVER do that! It took me hours of soaking the box with solvent before I could get the tape off without tearing the fiberboard. I was not pleased.
About my own Christmas display -
I consider my Christmas display to be average, maybe a 4 on the Griswold scale. (Remember Clark Griswold?) It has a retro look that includes C-7 lights, bubble lights, and NOEL standard miniature reflector sets. By the way, I am a multi-colored lights person.
As to live vs. plastic, I have an artificial tree that way I can keep it up late - but never past good Friday !
have been using a patriotic color scheme
with a row of red,
white, and blue lights
along the peak of the roof, since 2001 to show support for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I will continue to do so until they come home. Looks like I will be doing it again for 2008.
< Click the photo to enlarge.
R. I. P. Incandescent Bulb?
In early 2007, stories appeared in the media about the supposed demise of the incandescent bulb. Several Legislators in the United States and Canada suggested banning the sale of incandescent bulbs for household lighting because they are very inefficient. My first thought was "Oh no, they're going to kill Christmas Lights! After all, most Christmas Lights use miniature incandescent light bulbs. Will there be an exemption for decorative lighting ? If regular Christmas Lights are going to become extinct, it should be due to changing tastes, not some over zealous politicians. (But that's only my opinion).
Updated - as of 2019 you could still buy incandescent light sets in the U.S.A. They're like that bunny rabbit - just keeps going and going.-
L. E. D. Christmas Lights.
In the past few years I have seen Christmas Lights that use Light Emitting Diodes or L.E.D.s. These sets have been gaining in popularity and got a BIG boost when they were used on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City in 2007.
LED bulbs are now available in any color from infrared to ultraviolet. The color of the light is determined by the semiconductor chip in the LED bulb. This produces a narrow spectral band, which results in very intense colors!
White light is produced by a different method. One method uses an ultraviolet emitter to excite a phosphor coating making the phosphor glow in a process similar to what happens in a fluorescent bulb. The hue of the light can be changed by altering the mix of phosphors. Pink light is created using blue and red emitters.
The L.E.D. bulbs have advantages over conventional bulbs.
L.E.D.s use less electricity, about 10 % of what is used by incandescent bulbs.
They last longer - L.E.D.s have a theoretically unlimited life and will only burn out if damaged, or if the wires corrode.
The light from L.E.D.s is purer and will never fade. That's because the light color is determined by the semiconductor chip in the LED bulb.
But there are also a few disadvantages.
Christmas Lights that use L.E.D.s are more expensive, about twice the cost of ones that use conventional bulbs.
An L.E.D. bulb only emits light over a narrow viewing angle, which requires an optical diffuser. They are also dimmer, particularly the large C7 and C9 size lights.
I have noticed some L.E.D. sets have a slight flicker, which a few people may find objectionable. I recommend testing the actual set, don't rely on the demonstrator strip used on many displays. This demonstrator runs on a battery, which is D.C. so there is no flickering.
Another problem with these light sets is the wire leads of the bulbs are subject to corrosion when exposed to moisture with outdoor use. This reduces the set's life span considerably. Time will tell what the real world life expectancy of an L.E.D. sets is.
The Blog postings.
I have just found scientific proof on the internet that Christmas light strings really do tangle themselves into knots when in storage!
This is according to research by Douglas Smith and Dorian Raymer of the University of California, San Diego.
Read the complete article at http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/071003-knots-form.html
Just did a market analysis of Christmas lights at a few local merchants and about half of their stock consists of LED sets, so we are obviously in a transition era. Once the price of these new sets comes down, I predict that will mean the end of traditional incandescent Christmas lights.
So if you have any of these sets, keep them. If past history is any indication, there will be a core of traditionalists who will continue to use the incandescent light sets. Hey, vinyl LP records are still around 25 years after the audio CD was invented, so there is hope.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone survived the past Christmas season and wish you well for 2008.
If you want to see more videos of bubble lights, go to YouTube and do a search for "Christmas bubble lights" I found several nice videos there.
The old bulbs are becoming harder to find. Update: Wal Mart discontinued flame bulbs in 2011.
Wow! where did October go? Now it's time to start selling Christmas decorations! I still have some more items to put up on the site.
Well spring is finally here and the weather is getting warmer. The crocuses just finished blooming, and now the daffodils and hyacinths are in full bloom. Oh - wait this website is about LIGHT bulbs!
What's next? I am still adding more light sets to the site and will be redoing the photographs of some sets to make them look more three dimensional. I also have plans to redesign the site to take advantage of high speed internet.
I can't believe it's mid November already! Seems like Halloween was only yesterday. All the shops are going full bore with the Christmas displays. Wal Mart is no longer selling bubble lights but they have a great selection of L.E.D. sets. In fact one set they sell has M5 or T1-3/4 mini tubular bulbs that you'd swear were incandescent bulbs. They duplicate the pinpoint of light from a filament perfectly. It's amazing what new technology can do.
One of my other interests is collecting and listening to vinyl record albums. I have a moderate collection of Christmas albums from the 1960s to the present including compilations from various companies like Goodyear, B.F. Goodrich, Firestone, and the Reader's Digest association. Back then it seemed like every bank, store, and oil company would put out a Christmas album each year. Anyway another collector put up a site on yahoo! geocities listing all of the albums from Goodyear. Unfortunately Geocities has been shut down and now the website is gone!
However all is not lost I managed to archive most of the site and you can see The Goodyear Website right here.
I even added my own contribution of 4 Record album sets from The Readers Digest Association.
I am in the process of upgrading to a new web creation program. You've probably noticed that the videos no longer display in current versions of internet explorer. My choices are limited because any new program I use must be backward compatible with the old Microsoft Front page 2003 that I was using. Looks like Microsoft Expression web 2010 is the best choice for me and it's not too expensive either at $150 that's a lot less than Adobe Dream weaver.
Tried Coffee Cup visual site creator but it uses a proprietary file format that is incompatible with the existing web project, so I would have to recreate the site from scratch. That Ain't gonna happen!
And one more thing -I've noticed photos from this site appearing on another photo sharing website. Reuse of images from this website on other sites is allowed, provided that the author or source of the photo is included in the description. This is to avoid any misunderstanding as to who created the images. Unless indicated otherwise, all photos seen here were created by me, Joseph S. Pilliteri, for this website.
I recently found a great technical analysis of an L.E.D. light set that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about these sets, that are becoming ever more popular. It is by MuAnalysis of Ottawa, Canada and is in PDF format. Read the report here. Link is now 404
I now have a YouTube channel set up for Christmas lights videos, and other things. Future videos will be going on that channel as this website is limited to 50 MB of content and videos will use up that limit fast! To see my videos go to Radiopackrat's channel.
Time to get this website ready for the Christmas season! The countdown timer is back, and I'll try to add a few new items. My plans got put off by hurricane Sandy. Power was out 23 and 1/2 hours at my home but others fared worse.
I was unemployed from December 2011 to May 2012 but am now re employed. At my new job I work longer hours, commute farther, and make less money! You've got to love the American way.
It is now obvious that the incandescent sets are rapidly becoming obsolete! Kmart cut way back on their C7 and C9 bulb stock, discontinued the twinkle bulbs, while Wal-Mart stopped selling them entirely. They probably made the decision to cut back after getting stuck with lots of unsold bulbs last year.
A well known physical retailer that went out of business years ago was Fountains of Wayne in Wayne, New Jersey. It was fondly remembered by local residents. For more information go to the article in Roadside America. Updated- the building was demolished in 2019.
Updated- Here is a group of photos I took from the 2001 Christmas season. 2001 Fountains of Wayne Display.
Here is another technical analysis. This one compares LED Christmas lights to good old incandescents. It's by Vernier software and technology, a company that provides technology, software, and curriculum to educators.
Go to: http://www.vernier.com/innovate/comparing-led-and-traditional-holiday-lights/ Updated - site is now 404
I hope everyone had a Merry and bright Christmas. The old school incandescent lights are in steep decline, but that is due to reduced demand rather than any government intervention. As I always say, let market forces decide what will be sold.
Miniature replacement bulbs are becoming extremely hard to find. I could not find a single internet store selling them, and out of 8 retailers I visited, only one stocked mini replacement bulbs. Your best hope as always is Ebay.
Wow! It seems like the Christmas season starts right after Halloween now. Just about every store has Christmas merchandise out and on sale. I'll still go old school with my lights though with lots of reflector sets, candelabras, and bubble lights.
I have also kept busy digitizing old cassette tapes to MP3 files and have several Christmas radio shows from the 1980s to 1990s. Back then, radio stations would make a big deal about Christmas, putting on shows with the top 40 Christmas songs and seasons greetings messages from the air staff and celebrities. Now, it's just another day, since most radio stations are heavily automated.
Same is true for newspapers. Years ago the local paper would have Christmas greetings messages, now the only way you know it's the holiday season is by reading the comics.
So, let's all do what we can to keep the yuletide spirit alive!
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and the new year is better than the last. Wow this decade is half over already, and I am one year closer to retiring- if I can afford to!
By the way, there is nothing wrong with your eyes - Christmas lights ARE getting dimmer. It started in the 1970s when the C7 and C9 bulbs were reduced from 7 and 9 watts to 5 and 7 watts. Mini bulbs have been getting dimmer also from a high of 1.1 watts to 3/4 watt, 1/2 watt and now only .42 watts. The LED lights are dim, too. All of this is to save energy to please the environmentalists - we have to reduce our carbon footprint!
Well, it's that time again. The Christmas season has now started. May everyone have a merry Christmas!
Fans of vintage Christmas lighting will be happy to know that you can still buy G.E.-branded incandescent bulbs in C-7 and C-9 sizes. They are sold at Lowes home centers and even come in cartons similar to the original design. I say G.E. branded because they are no longer in the lighting business. The bulbs are made by another manufacturer under a licensing agreement. Go to: G.E. bulbs at Lowes home centers.
Well it's been a long winter, but spring will be arriving soon.
Over the past Christmas season I bought the Light Keeper Pro ® at an after Christmas sale. Actually it was a before Christmas sale. Anyway, in my unbiased, impartial opinion, it does work as advertised! In fact you can find lots of reviews on YouTube from other satisfied customers.
Their official website is: Light Keeper Pro
I have an e-mail account just for this site!
Perhaps you have a question or comment, or want to point out an error or omission in the information on my site. I am always doing research and appreciate additional information. So, if you have any information to contribute, please email me at the address below.
If you would like to contact me just fire up your favorite email program, and type in, or copy/paste, the following address, replacing (at) with @.
I have to do it this way to foil spammers. This is webmail so please limit any
attachments to under 2 MB.
I am always busy with my job, doing yard and house work. But I can still find time to add stuff now and then.
Update I have had problems with Hotmail
in the past.
My replies may get returned as undeliverable!
So if you send an email and don't get a reply, that's the reason.
Webmaster, Historian, Collector.
J. S. Pilliteri
Next page- Shiny brite and Jewel bright Ornaments.
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