Thread Number: 48980
Vintage Pifco Fairy Lights
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Post# 709325   10/14/2013 at 15:43 (1,987 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

Anyone collect vintage Pifco fairy lights such as 'London Lights'?

Post# 709379 , Reply# 1   10/15/2013 at 01:23 (1,987 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

Do you have a photo example of these?

Post# 709402 , Reply# 2   10/15/2013 at 05:09 (1,986 days old) by DaveTranter (Central England)        
Fairy lights

I don't collect them, but do have a quantity of the tiny ES type bulbs for old-type fairy lights. I think I am in posession of one working string of old lights, not sure of make/model....

All best

Dave T

Post# 709426 , Reply# 3   10/15/2013 at 08:29 (1,986 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

These are the sort I am talking about. Quite popular in the 70's though I wasn't alive then.

Post# 709428 , Reply# 4   10/15/2013 at 08:30 (1,986 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

And these sort

Post# 709429 , Reply# 5   10/15/2013 at 08:34 (1,986 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

And these Pifco 'London Lights'. Do you think these were far more 'Christmassy' than the modern Christmas lights with shades? Interesting to know what others think.

Post# 709449 , Reply# 6   10/15/2013 at 12:42 (1,986 days old) by fido ()        

They all look a bit modern to me! I think I gave my parents old tree lights away at a vintage radio swap meet. They would have been early '60s ones as there are family photos of that era showing the decorated tree.

Post# 709459 , Reply# 7   10/15/2013 at 13:43 (1,986 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

I remember those. They were also popular on this side of the pond in the late 60's.
I haven't seen the London version before though. Those look quite nice. This is the first time I have heard them called fairy lights.

Post# 709485 , Reply# 8   10/15/2013 at 15:38 (1,986 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Over here, they were just called miniature lights. We saved a favorite string that were little white sugary-looking bells maybe an inch and a quarter from top to bottom with little lights inside them. We had a string with all blue lights with the little clear plastic petals in a tulip or cup shape around the light.

Post# 709537 , Reply# 9   10/15/2013 at 19:18 (1,986 days old) by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

When I was a little kid, my dad's Aunt Hazel had some of these. She referred to them as "Italian lights".

Post# 709545 , Reply# 10   10/15/2013 at 19:54 (1,986 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

In the 60s, at least, the strings of miniature lights were Italian made. The last sets I saw several years ago were made in China and there was a warning about wearing gloves, washing up after handling and not allowing children to touch them because of the lead residue on the sets. I don't know how the lead got on the sets unless it is part of the atmosphere in the Chinese factories. American corporations have the factories there because they can't have lead in the air in factories here. Pity.

Post# 709568 , Reply# 11   10/16/2013 at 00:24 (1,986 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Lead is in the cords and cables that make up the light set-the vinyl insulation.Don't panic-normal use of these is very safe--its dangerous if the vinyl burns.The lead is a fire retardant-and makes the plastic more weather resistent.Now other chemicals are used in vinyl instead of the lead.Again don't worry-the vinyl insulation is quite safe when used normally.And the lead was used in older vinyl window blinds and shades.Only time they were really dangerous is if they were weatherworn and starting to have a white powder residue on the surface.Then you replace the item.And of course don't let children or pets suck,bite, or chew the item.In thrid world areas where cords and cables were burned to free the copper from the insulation-people in those areas were in danger-esp the ones doing the burning and handling the burnt wire afterward.In more advanced wire recycling operations-a machine can strip the insulation from the copper-and save it for recycling along with the copper-no burning involved.

Post# 709576 , Reply# 12   10/16/2013 at 01:53 (1,986 days old) by fido ()        

I think modern lights are normally low voltage and come with a power supply adapter but at one time they tended to run low voltage bulbs wired in series, with the ends of the string connected directly to the mains. This was a pain if a bulb blew because the whole string went dead. You had to get a new bulb and try it in every holder until the string lit up again.

Post# 709595 , Reply# 13   10/16/2013 at 06:40 (1,985 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

I think the term fairy lights is a British term but those above I would class as Christmas lights as I can't imagine them being used for any other event except Christmas as they would look a little out of place.

Post# 709596 , Reply# 14   10/16/2013 at 06:41 (1,985 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

Pifco lights were made in Hong Kong and some other sets were made in Taiwan during the 70's and 80's.

Post# 709597 , Reply# 15   10/16/2013 at 06:41 (1,985 days old) by optima (Cumbria England)        

optima's profile picture
Don't know if this 20 screw in set is Pifco or Noma but i'm sure these Xmas lights are well over 40 years old & are still used every year.

Post# 709600 , Reply# 16   10/16/2013 at 07:01 (1,985 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

@ Optima I believe they are by Vesta. They look immaculate condition for over 40 years old! Can I ask do you personally find the lights with shades more 'Christmassy'?

Post# 709639 , Reply# 17   10/16/2013 at 10:14 (1,985 days old) by optima (Cumbria England)        

optima's profile picture
Never have liked shadeless lights.

Post# 709652 , Reply# 18   10/16/2013 at 11:43 (1,985 days old) by Lemniscate (United Kingdom)        
Takes me back!

I remember those 'London Lights' well. I must have been about 8 years old and my grandmother gave me the money to buy a set which i then strung across my bedroom. They came with a bayonet plug on them which went straight into the ceiling light fitting. i think they cost about 2.50 for the set. The whole set is long gone but I still have some of the large shades in the Christmas decoration box and can't will myself to throw them away. Yes,in answer to your original question, I do think lights like these are more Christmassy than modern ones but is that my age i wonder lol.

Post# 709668 , Reply# 19   10/16/2013 at 13:57 (1,985 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

I bought a set off Ebay today. Glitter Lights I think they were called.

I think most fairy lights today are just general purpose i.e. year round use whereas the ones from the 70's to late 80's were regarded as real Christmas Lights.

Post# 709996 , Reply# 20   10/18/2013 at 16:11 (1,983 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

Regarding the older single insulated cable can these still be sold in charity shops? Were there incidents of people getting electric shocks off the older sets to make them go over to double insulated cable? A lot of it is common sense but I don't recall from personal memory anyone having problems with them but I was rather young at the time.

Post# 711265 , Reply# 21   10/24/2013 at 21:10 (1,977 days old) by bellingmad (Northumberland)        
To liberatordeluxe

bellingmad's profile picture
Hi Liberatordeluxe
I have been reading your thread about the Pifco fairy lights, I agree with you these lights look way more 'Chrismassy' than the LED versions!!
I have a set of Pifco Lanterns and Carriages from the early 80s, we used to put them on the tree when I was a kid, and then later... wait for it, around the archway between the living room and dining room!! They are still working.. I think.. I have them packed away with the decorations tho, I will see if I can get them out to take a pic for you.. I havent used them for a few years but most of the bulbs still work! I cant ever part with them!
I remember the London lights too... There is a store in Newcastle called Fenwicks and they used to have a great Christmas Decs dept (they still do!) and I remember buying Lametta to put on the christmas tree! Very Retro now I guess..
Are you building up a collection of them? I can imagine as the years go on they will become more sought after!
I will try and get the pic on soon for you !
Cheers Ian

Post# 711268 , Reply# 22   10/24/2013 at 21:21 (1,977 days old) by bellingmad (Northumberland)        
Another thought

bellingmad's profile picture
Have you seen any of the old PIFCO adverts? They were class!!
Not sure if there are any knocking about on youtube?

Here's a woolworths christams ad....they dont make em like this anymore!!


Post# 711271 , Reply# 23   10/24/2013 at 21:30 (1,977 days old) by bellingmad (Northumberland)        
one more!

bellingmad's profile picture
This one has nothing to do with your thread....but its so 80s!


Post# 711284 , Reply# 24   10/25/2013 at 00:01 (1,977 days old) by bellingmad (Northumberland)        

bellingmad's profile picture
I found the pic!

Post# 712455 , Reply# 25   10/31/2013 at 16:03 (1,970 days old) by keymatic3203 (Cardiff UK)        
oh yes

I ceratainlty do collect vintage christmas lights, with what must be going on over a hundred sets. Pifco have always been my favourite, with in my opinion the Mini lanterns being my favourite of all, they are my first memory of looking up into a tree and just being facinated.

And in my mind these coulours and designs say christmas in a way flashing leds will never do. Even a push in bulb is too modern for me.

For me growing up in the 70's it was all those electrical manufacturers who accompanied my growing up, and still are special to me, as music might chart someones growing up. Names like Pifco, Qualcast, Black and Decker, and of course Hoover and Hotpoint would be the sound track to my life.

This is part of my hall christmas decorations, a swag with pifco london lights and pifco gleam lights. on the other swags are cinderella lights and jewel lights, merry lights, harlequins etc.

And if you think collecting washing machine and christmas lights isn't enough I've also got a collection of electric mowers from the 60's to the 90's

Post# 712550 , Reply# 26   11/1/2013 at 04:19 (1,969 days old) by electron1100 (England)        
Like minded

electron1100's profile picture
Hello Mat
Like you I was a 70s kid and yes pifco lights figure heavily in my current collection of lights, cheap and tacky yes but fun.
I have also been collecting the Osram candle lights from the 50s, here is a picture of the latest set I bought from ebay, they have metal bases with crocodile clips to attach them to the tree (or whatever else takes your fancy), and occasionally from one set you get a little buzz if you touch the bases, see what fun these old sets can be :-)


Post# 712705 , Reply# 27   11/1/2013 at 23:53 (1,969 days old) by bellingmad (Northumberland)        
to keymatic 3203

bellingmad's profile picture
Loving the pic of the Pifco lights ...its nearly time to put them out too! Yeahh!!

Post# 712779 , Reply# 28   11/2/2013 at 13:24 (1,968 days old) by optima (Cumbria England)        

optima's profile picture
Another vintage Pifco 20 light set of mine, don't remember what these were called.

Post# 712793 , Reply# 29   11/2/2013 at 14:55 (1,968 days old) by fido ()        

We had some poinsettia ones similar to these:


Post# 712893 , Reply# 30   11/3/2013 at 01:05 (1,968 days old) by optima (Cumbria England)        

optima's profile picture
These lights are not Poinettia's

Post# 712896 , Reply# 31   11/3/2013 at 01:15 (1,968 days old) by optima (Cumbria England)        

optima's profile picture
Sorry Phil, i think they are.

Post# 712905 , Reply# 32   11/3/2013 at 03:51 (1,967 days old) by keymatic3203 (Cardiff UK)        
Hi optima

those are called `carnival lights' and looking at the white bulb holders, those are from the mid to late 80's.


Post# 715359 , Reply# 33   11/14/2013 at 15:59 (1,956 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

Hi Bellingmad,

Terribly sorry for taking ages to reply but I haven't been on the net in ages!

I have started to build up a collection of Pifco lights but so far I just have the Glitterlites. Other than Ebay I have no idea where one finds them. They go for silly money on Ebay in my opinion.

I do have a set of Noma 'Pickwick' and 'Winter Crystals' too.

I saw in Roys of Wroxham that they have Premier petal lights back again however the lighting string is on a loop rather than straight line construction which seems daft.

One thing I have noticed is it was easier decorating with the old transparent green cable compared to the heavy duty one of today!


Post# 715576 , Reply# 34   11/15/2013 at 17:13 (1,955 days old) by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        
Wilko Lights

I bought a set of 35 berry lights from Wilko but they look like Premier 35 cherry lights. Does anyone know if Premier make Wilko's Christmas lighting for them? Can't be that many lighting manufacturers can there?

Post# 802582 , Reply# 35   1/6/2015 at 09:50 (1,538 days old) by srad4d ()        
my London lights

Hi all I was just looking up bulb voltage for my Pifco lights when I came across this discussion

So here's a picture of my Pifco London lights with screw in bulbs, checked to be working as I packed them away today for another 11 months or so.

But I also have a set of 20 smaller Pifco lanterns with push in bulbs. So can anyone advise me what voltage the push in ones are as I need to find replacements for some of them


  View Full Size
Post# 804278 , Reply# 36   1/15/2015 at 10:57 (1,529 days old) by mcduffpth (Perth Scotland)        
pifco lights

mcduffpth's profile picture
Hi there, 20 lights sets push-in and screw-in use 12v 1.1w replacement bulbs however not all push-in bulbs have the same plastic collar so aren't all interchangeable.
I have a preference for the old woolworths light sets with the transparent green twisted cord and green lamp-holders, these sets were very resilient and shades/bulbs were all interchangeable - I have resurrected many old pifco lights by using the pifco shades on woolworths lights.
eBay is the best place for sourcing vintage bulbs and sets,
hope this helps,

Post# 902288 , Reply# 37   10/8/2016 at 14:53 (897 days old) by teeter59 (saint Joseph Missouri)        
Post# 709379

I am always searching for Cinderella lights by Pifco. I have found a few but they are always out of my price range. My grandmother had them when I was a child and I would love to happen upon a set. If anyone has some for sale, let me know! I have included pictures below. Tee

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Post# 902323 , Reply# 38   10/8/2016 at 22:29 (897 days old) by Artcurus (Odessa)        

I have about 50 of the double flasher sets from the late 60's-late 70's. They are an ungodly pain in the ass to maintain.

Post# 1017889 , Reply# 39   12/13/2018 at 16:45 by Tina (Norfolk, England)        
Wilko Lights

Wilko lights were indeed all made by Premier. Not sure if they still are as I am no longer near a Wilko store unfortunately.

Post# 1017897 , Reply# 40   12/13/2018 at 17:30 by Tina (Norfolk, England)        
pifco lights

Hi Grant, the push in lamps can be interchangeable. A lot of the push in bases are not glued. If you pull down the metal wires you can slide the plastic base off and you can then replace the glass lamp with one of the same voltage etc. I hate to see old sets being thrown away so found a way around it :-)

Post# 1018405 , Reply# 41   12/18/2018 at 07:03 by liberatordeluxe (Chelmsford, United Kingdom)        

@Tina i thought as much because they used to sell petal shaded lights. I also found out a few years ago that Noma made Homebase Christmas lights in 1999/2000 and they actually told me via an email i sent regarding how identical the Homebase and Noma branded ones looked. They basically said it was the same product just different packaging.

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