"Suppose you had
|Blotter number 147; image number: LAR_B147.
Text on blotter reads:
"Suppose you had a loadstone which would draw people away from
your competitors' stores into yours. That would be fine, wouldn't
"That is just what an Electric
Sign does for you. It reaches out as far as it can be seen and persistently
yet patiently and politely presents your invitation to the public."
"Store architecture is surprisingly
similar nowadays and unless your place of business has some characteristic
individuality to distinguish it, it will often be overlooked. An
electric sign will give you the right kind of individuality and
stamp it indelibly on the minds of the buying public 18 hours out
of every 24."
"The high efficiency of Edison Mazda sign
lamps has reduced the cost of operating an electric sign to such
a point that you should know at once how little it will really cost
you to add an electric sign to your selling force."
"Telephone us today and
our Electrical Advertising Specialist will arrange to call on you."
Also, caption under theater sign reads:
"39th St. Theater sign, 2-sides, 240-5 watt lamps. The cost
of operating this sign at the average rate for current is 12¢
This is an instance of advertising aimed
at business, rather than residential, lighting customers. Note the
heavy use of text with only one small, bland image. The impression
given is that a business customer would more likely respond to rational
arguments and not emotional impulses.
In this instance we witness the need to actively sell electric
signage, devices taken for granted today. Electric signs were a
significant investment and business-people needed to be convinced
that they worked. The cost of operating the sign is given for comparison
with other advertising costs, and so anyone interested could
estimate a budget.
Note also the comment about influencing "the minds of the
buying public 18 hours out of every 24." Few businesses in
this era planned on operating their signs 24 hours a day. "Sign
lamps" refers to a type of incandescent lamp made especially
for use in electric signs. Neon signs were developed in the 1910s
and provided strong competition to incandescent signs.
The discolored strip along the blotter's left side appears on the
actual blotter and may be fading due to light, or water damage.
For additional information about sign lamps see:
- Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Electric-Lamp Industry: Technological
Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947 (New York:
MacMillan Co., 1949)
- National Museum of American History, Archives Center collection
# 2002.3019, General Electric Nela Park Collection
- National Museum of American History, Electricity Collections,
Electric Lighting Collection