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Author Topic: pifco, noma relation?  (Read 15180 times)

Offline jonathan cassiday

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pifco, noma relation?
« on: January 07, 2007, 09:21:52 pm »
i was just on ebay and noticed a set of snap on type bubble lites that are exactly the same as nomas but were sold in England under the Pifco name. now i know that pifco was a prominate christmas lighting company from the number of sets of traditional olive cone style sets that i find on ebay, but were thy actually a prt of noma or were they licensing the production rights to this particular product, also i know a company known as noma is currently selling lights in england and europe that i believe was a privatly held subsidiary of noma US, basicaly a franchise company selling simular products but not necessarly under control of the US company. My question is was pifco the name of this subsidary that changed names or was it like the loss leader brand of noma?
yes this is Jonathan Cassiday how may i help you

Offline Chris W. Millinship

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Re: pifco, noma relation?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 02:29:08 pm »
Pifco were the UK-based "Provincial Incandescent Fitting Company" and date back to the turn of the last century. Originally producing oil lamps and the like, they moved on to electric lighting and other electrical products, eventually producing things as diverse as toasters, clocks and bicycle lamps. Their christmas sets were hugely popular and a great variety were sold from the 30s to the 90s. I am not aware of there ever being an official link with the "National Outfit Manufacturers Association" of the US, but information about these things is next to impossible to find it would seem.
I do know those bubble lights - Pifco decoration lights are a speciality interest of mine and I have a huge collection of their boxed sets. Most appear to be original designs, the bubble lights being one of the few that I can tell were bought in from other companies. Bubble lights were never very popular in this country, possibly due to the lean times following the war meaning people were less inclined to purchase those expensive lights. There were some UK-produced sets, Telsen being the most notable, but they were not big sellers, hence they command high prices among collectors today (I am still looking for a Telsen boxed set that I can afford!). Noma USA probably just sold the plastic bases to Pifco for their boxed bubble sets, but likely not the tubes since they are the Telsen style that work a bit like Peerless Shooting Star - coloured heavy liquid in the bottom and clear in the top that shoot up and down. I don`t think the lights were ever sold here as "snap-on" type as they were in the States, I have only ever seen them sold as sets complete with lights.

Today, Pifco is just a brand name, owned by Salton Europe. You can still find light sets sold under the Pifco name, but none of their old original designs have been made since the early 90s. Likewise, the US origin Noma is just a brand name and not related to the old National Outfit Manufacturers Association. Noma UK is a different story, they are a privately owned company started in the 50s and still design/produce many of their own lights, though as with everything these days, it is likely they brand and sell some generic designs as well as their own unique ones. I don`t know if there was ever a link between Noma USA and Noma UK, other than the name, but doubt they were ever tightly linked if at all.


Offline jonathan cassiday

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Re: pifco, noma relation?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2007, 08:28:18 pm »
thats interesting to know about the pifco company. I am well aware that noma is just a name now, but they do sell a type of light set that i know the noma U.K. company also sells known as Stay Lit, where each socket has a diode that keeps the sets lighted even with a bulb removed, and while they are more expensive, i own quite a few sets and have been pleased with this feature. This current product link between the two noma's (noma owned by inliten in the U.S. and noma U.K.) makes me wonder if they were related or are related in some form today. the Noma inliten web site makes no mention of U.K. products or avaliability so its hard to tell from the web. I am particullary fond of any vintage Noma light set because it was the company that manufactured the first light set that really started me on collecting. I am also fond of the bubble lite history and love to find noma bubble lites and use them in my holiday decorating, but i do find others form toime to time including 4 shooting star variety made by goodlite that i foind for only 12 dollars, which is still quite a deal in my book. whenever i have my freinds over at chirstmas and they look at all the bubble lights that one is by far their favorite because of the roman candle effect of the bubble tube.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2007, 08:35:21 pm by jonathan cassiday »
yes this is Jonathan Cassiday how may i help you

Offline Howard

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Re: pifco, noma relation?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2007, 05:21:17 pm »

Further to Chris Millinship's reply, have you tried the obvious - e-mailing the companies about their histories?  Quite often they can be quite forthcoming to a direct question.  It may be helpful to know that Salton Europe's UK HQ occupies the same address in Failsworth (Manchester) that used to be Pifco for as long as I can remember (possibly for their entire history).  Also, Noma UK, until they revised their website recently used to claim they were a family run business, but I note they now have a new MD, John Amies, replacing Clive Capel.

Thank you to Chris, I've long wondered the derivation of the name Pifco; now I know.
Regards, Howard.
"Is there any tea on this ship?" - Arthur Dent