Christmas Lights Archive

Pifco Mini Lights

Mini Lights was the name used by Pifco for their range of Christmas light sets featuring plain bulbs without any decorative shades.

The range appears to have been introduced in the 1960s and was in continuous production until well into the 2000s. The name Mini Lights references the small size of the bulbs when compared with the much larger bulbs which had been commonplace for Christmas lights previously.

Original Mini Lights

In the 1960s, there were at least a dozen varieties of Mini Lights. Sets of 20, 35 or 70 bulbs were available and with the option of bulbs that were clear, red, yellow or a mixture of six different colours (red, yellow, green, blue, purple and clear). Oddly, the different colour variations were not distinguished by different catalogue numbers.

These earliest versions featured white wiring and white lampholders, as well as the typical screw-in miniature light bulbs.

In 1966, recommended retail prices started at 16s 3d for 20 lights - relatively expensive at around £12 in 2023's prices.

Original models:

Cat. No.Light Set NameBulb TypeNotes
122020 Mini LightsScrew-in 242Multi-colour, red, yellow or clear.
123535 Mini LightsScrew-in 243Multi-colour, red, yellow or clear.
127070 Mini LightsScrew-in 244Multi-colour, red, yellow or clear.

Into the Eighties

By the start of the 1980s, the set of 70 Mini Lights had been dropped and the remaining sets of 20 and 35 lights changed to feature green wiring.

A few years later, Pifco picked up on a new trend for decorating trees with clear bulbs rather than with traditional coloured lights and relaunched clear-bulbed sets under the Mini Crystals name and with new, green lampholders. This development was heralded by the Times, who in a 1985 lifestyle article claimed that clear-bulbed light sets had previously been expensive and hard to come by.

The decade ended with the first forays into push-in light bulbs: the set of 20 Mini Crystals eventually switched to this type of bulb and a cheap, alternative design of 20 coloured unshaded push-in lights was briefly sold under the simple Tree Lights name (catalogue number 1355).

Added in the 1980s:

Cat. No.Light Set NameBulb TypeNotes
133720 Mini CrystalsScrew-in 242Clear lamps.
133835 Mini CrystalsScrew-in 243Clear lamps.
120220 Mini CrystalsPush-in 271Clear lamps.

Nineties evolution

Changing safety regulations brought major changes to the range from 1991. Most significantly, sets had to be redesigned with more robust double-insulated wiring. This required the bulb holders to also change and the opportunity was taken to switch away from screw-in bulbs to the more modern push-in bulbs with plastic bases that had long been used by other manufacturers.

Sets of 20 and 40 Mini Lights to new designs were introduced as direct replacements for older Mini Lights and Mini Crystals sets. Both clear and multi-coloured bulbs were available, now with their own distinct catalogue numbers.

Additionally, sets with a mixture of 35 or 40 flashing and static bulbs were introduced, offering an alternative version with a random twinkling effect.

Later on in the 1990s and 2000s, Pifco also started offering much larger sets of Mini Lights with up to 300 bulbs. This was in line with a general trend for better-lit trees as Christmas light sets became relatively more affordable.

There was also a further descendant in the form of Frosted Lights - sets of 40 unshaded lights with distinctive opaque bulbs.

Available from the 1990s:

Cat. No.Light Set NameBulb TypeNotes
220120 Assorted Mini LightsPush-in 271Six-colour mix.
220220 Clear Mini LightsPush-in 271Clear lamps.
220440 Assorted Mini LightsPush-in 272Six-colour mix.
220540 Clear Mini LightsPush-in 272Clear lamps.
221440 Assorted Twinkling Mini LightsPush-in 7856Six-colour mix.
221540 Clear Twinkling Mini LightsPush-in 7857Clear lamps.
222435 Assorted Twinkling Mini LightsPush-in 7858Six-colour mix.
7311100 Clear Mini LightsPush-in 7875Clear lamps.
7406100 Assorted Mini LightsPush-in 7875Six-colour mix.
7407200 Clear Mini LightsPush-in 7875Clear lamps.
7408200 Assorted Mini LightsPush-in 7875Six-colour mix.
7409300 Clear Mini LightsPush-in 7875Clear lamps.
7410300 Assorted Mini LightsPush-in 7875Six-colour mix.

Lights for other brands

Pifco is mainly known for selling branded light sets, but did occasionally produce sets for companies to sell under their own label. Harrods is one example of a retailer which is known to have sold repackaged Mini Lights. Similarly Boots sold Mini Lights as an own-brand product during at least two Christmases, including as recently as the 1990s.


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