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"It's A Pleasure To Turn On The Light...."

Image: woman in 1910s era dress, lighting an ornate table fixture.  Vase of roses and open book also on table.
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, light–an 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 factory–either the Harrison Lamp Works, or Thomson-Houston's plant in Lynn, Massachusetts–had to go. 

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:

  • Lippincott, 1941). 
  • 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. 

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