"It's A Pleasure To Turn On
|Blotter number 3837; image number: LAR_B3837.
Text on blotter reads:
"It's a pleasure to turn on the light when you use
G. E. Tungsten Lamps. They take 1/3 the current required by ordinary incandescent
lamps, and the quality of light is unsurpassed."
Also stamped on the bottom:
"General Electric Company
Main Lamp Sales Offices
Harrison, N. J."
"F. A. Holaday"
Newly-invented tungsten-filament incandescent
lamps were more expensive than existing carbon-filament designs.
To persuade a consumer to spend the extra money this ad's text invokes
economy of use, but then shifts to selling the end-product, lightan
appeal reinforced visually by the image. The lamps themselves are
not seen; they are in the Tiffany fixture being operated by the
well-dressed model. The vase of roses and the open book on the table
enhances the upscale image. Another blotter in the collection (not
shown) has the model seated at the table reading the book.
The reference to Harrison, N.J. recalls an early
period in GE's operations. Thomas Edison initially produced light bulbs
at Menlo Park. But demand soon outstripped the limited resources there,
so in 1882
he built a manufacturing plant in nearby East Newark. Ten years
later the merger of Edison Electric and Thomson-Houston that formed General
Electric created a duplication within the new company. One lamp factoryeither
the Harrison Lamp Works, or Thomson-Houston's plant in Lynn, Massachusettshad
Company officials decided to put the plants in direct
competition to decide their fate. Each plant produced fifty lamps which
then were tested. The Edison lamps from Harrison were declared superior
to the Thomson-Houston lamps from Lynn. Harrison kept the lamp works and
GE consolidated manufacture of lightweight electrical equipment at Lynn.
Harrison's victory proved temporary as GE's
lighting business continued to grow and the company assimilated
it's National Lamp subsidiaries.
From 1925 through 1930 the various departments at Harrison moved
to GE's newly completed Nela Park campus in Cleveland, Ohio. The
Sales Department was one of the last to move.
For additional information about the
history of GE Lighting see:
Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Electric-Lamp
Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947
(New York: MacMillan Co., 1949)
Hollis L. Townsend, A History of Nela
Park, (General Electric, 1957.)
Harold C. Passer, The Electrical Manufacturers,
1875-1900 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1953).
J. W. Hammond, Men and Volts: The Story
of General Electric (Philadelphia:
Robert Jones, and Oliver Marriott, Anatomy
of a Merger: A History of G.E.C., A.E.I.,
and English Electric (London:
Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1970).
Leonard S. Reich, "Lighting the Path to
Profit: GE's Control of the Electric Lamp
Industry, 1892-1941," in Business
History Review 66 (Summer 1992), pp. 305-34.