I promise to stop torturing you booklovers with ephemera finds soon and return to blogging about books, for balance if for nothing else. That’s what happens when I discover a subject with which I fall in love; I tend to immerse myself in it.
How deeply am I immersed in ephemera at the moment?
If I could paper my walls in ephemera right now, I would.
Don’t worry, I would never actually put wallpaper glue on ephemera. Let’s just say, though, that when I’m reading and researching a subject I love, I tend to tune out all of the noise around me. This is not necessarily a good thing for child safety. 😉
I’m deeply immersed at the moment.
For today’s viewing pleasure, I present a 1902 trade catalogue from General Electric. It has a very scintillating title. In fact, when you read it, you’ll see why I am unable to pay attention to anything else.
It’s Electrical Apparatus and Supplies for Isolated Plants.
I know. You might be thinking, “Really, Chris? You’d tune out everything going on around you for a boring bit of ephemera about electricity? I expect better from you, perhaps an illuminated manuscript leaf or early dustjacket. But a General Electric catalogue. Who cares?”
I said the same thing when I first saw the title, but then I decided I really liked the cover.
I am such a sucker for good graphics and a pretty cover.
Then I opened the catalogue, and I saw the 1902 date and the verso of the title page, which reads, “Everybody should use Electric Light, obtaining the supply from the nearest Central Station. If impossible to secure such service, install General Electric Company’s Small Plant.”
The Introduction goes on to explain, “In the pages following is given a general description of the various devices manufactured by the General Electric Company, which are necessary for a complete installation.”
Before the United States had what we commonly refer to as a “power grid” that provided service nearly everywhere, there were places where people had to create their own electricity. This catalogue was printed to serve those places.
The catalogue has detailed illustrations on almost every page that show not only the equipment available (Direct Coupled Engine Generator Sets, Switchboards, Transformers, and Incandescent Lamps, among others) but places where it was being used — on ships, in large buildings, charging car batteries, in some homes, etc.
Lightbulbs for sale:
Though it’s not a very clear picture on the blog, this is a diagram of how to wire everything together once you purchased and assembled your own isolated power plant:
Given many people’s current desire to find alternate sources of power, I thought this an interesting find from the era when the use of electricity was becoming accessible to all.
See you in the stacks!