Antique Sylvania Christmas Lights

Tonight, we brought all of the boxes from the attic for our annual tree decorating party, which, this year, included Roger, Nicole and two dogs and me.  The dogs were not a lot of help: Peso keeps drinking the tree water–so much so that his nose smells like pine.  It was up to the three of us to get the job done.

We listened to The Messiah and worked quietly, with minimal arguing about what does and does not go on the tree this year.

Tree lights 2What does NOT go on the tree, but remains in the bottom of my boxes, is a string of lights my dad put on our tree every year when we were kids.  When I dug out the box this year (as I do every year just to look at them), I saw that in 2001, I had gone online to find the origin of the string of lights and had printed out my results.

According to, the string I have inherited is rare–1946.  “Sylvania first introduced their fluorescent Christmas lights. An unattractive milky white in the  box, they glow with wonderful pastel colors when power is applied. The sets were expensive, selling for $6.95 (around $50.00 today), and were not big sellers.”  They did glow pastel green, peach and pink.  We would wind them up the center of the tree  along the main trunk because the bulbs are about as large as tangerines.  They gave the tree a beautiful interior glow.Tree lights 3

I saw that two strings of lights were auctioned on ebay as recently as last month.  I photos I am posting are from the ebay auctions.  They look exactly like mine.  The winning bid was around $50.00, so, according to the estimates, the string of lights has not increased in value at all.  For me, it is priceless anyway.

I stopped using the lights in the early 1980’s because I was afraid of setting the tree on fire (even though there is no exposed wiring) and two of the bulbs had burned out. I didn’t have the internet back them to advise me where to buy replacements.

Although our tree tonight is breathtaking, I miss the special glow from the inside.  If you have old strings of lights, and you are curious, the website  is very informative

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