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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Electric George: 1916

Electric George: 1916

Washington, D.C., circa 1916. "George Parezo Electric Shop, 808 Ninth Street N.W." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Timely

Somehow, the Fourth of July springs to mind. Not sure why, but there's something about this particular picture!

Tubular Rheostat

Well, since there is a flurry to identify widgets in the window - I'll pick out the item at the very extreme right. It is a Wheatstone tubular rheostat (i.e. variable resistor). The backrooms of the physics labs when I went to college were full of these things. The physics department at Kenyon College currently has an excellent page on historical rheostats and resistance boxes with images of similar devices.

Another curiosity is associated with the language in the display for Dim-A-Lite. I'm tickled by the advertising line that Dim-A-Lite "Saves Current." These days advertisers would proclaim "Saves Energy." Both statements are correct, I just don't think many people today would immediately identify with the concept, or need, to "save current."

tterrace has already commented on this gadget in the previously seen image of Mr. Parezo's store. Typical of many things which appear on Shorpy, a google search for "Dim-A-Light" currently brings up a link to Shorpy in the first page.

Spark Gaps

Those "sparking devices" are likely spark gaps used in amateur radio transmitters of that era. The advent of WW1 caused the shutdown of that aspect of radio for the duration (and if the US Navy had had its way it would never have returned). There is also a nice collection of knife switches on display. The "rocks" in the center are probably chunks of galena used (in much smaller sizes) as detectors in simple radio receivers of the era.

The Age of Electricity

I always get the feeling that in 1916 electricity was the marvel of the age. This display has just about everything except light bulbs. There are electric motors, flashlights, irons, coffee pots, chafing dishes, a hot plate, a telegraph key(!), what look some sparking devices the purpose of which I can't figure out and some other mysterious electrical gear. And the whole thing is set off with a portrait of George Washington in (presumably) a gilt frame... lit with an electric light. In less than a decade all of this stuff would be considered commonplace and pride of place in the window would be given over to radios.

Bright Ideas

This is wonderful! It strikes me as the predecessor to computer storefronts of today. I can imagine people drooling over the latest light bulbs.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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