"If You Can Get Better Light...."
|Blotter number 3904; image number: LAR_B3904.
Text on blotter reads:
"If you can get better light and save more than
half the current isn't it worth while to buy the new lamp and make a big
saving on your bills?"
"The G.E. Mazda Lamp has an improved tungsten filament
which turns more electricity into light and is, therefore, more economical
than old style lamps. We can supply it at a price which will enable you
to make an important saving in the cost of your lighting."
Also stamped on bottom:
Lamps featuring substantial technology improvements
typically cost more when first offered for sale. High-priced general purpose
lamps pose a challenge for salespeople: how to convince buyers to spend
the extra money when the improvement may not be obvious. Sellers of compact
fluorescent lamps (CFLs) today face this problem with consumers accustomed
to inexpensive incandescent lamps.
"General Electric Company
Schenectady, N. Y.
Main Lamp Sales Offices
Harrison, N. J."
This same problem existed nearly a century ago as
tungsten-filament lamps were introduced to consumers used to buying less-expensive
carbon-filament lamps. Then, as now, salespeople
tried to make their customers think in terms of long-term or "life-cycle"
costs rather than the initial, upfront costs. This is the approach seen
in the blotter above.
The salesman is literally pointing out the features
of the new lamp to his customer, while the caption explains (quite truthfully)
that these lamps are more economical than the old. The economy stemmed
for the higher energy efficiency of tungsten over carbon filaments.
"Better light" in this context meant brighter light.
For additional information about advertising
and marketing of lamps see:
Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Electric-Lamp
Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947
(New York: MacMillan Co., 1949)
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.
Nathan Rosenberg, "Factors Affecting the
Diffusion of Technology," in Explorations in
Economic History 10, no. 1
(Fall 1972), p.3.
National Museum of American History, Archives
Center collection #2002.3019, General Electric Nela Park Collection; collection
# 60, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.