The Four Leading Electric Novelties of 1897

Scanned and Flickr'd by Captain Geoffrey Spaulding, an ad for Ohio Electric Works, 1897.


  1. Marketed as “Electric Novelties”, yet none of them vibrate.  Or so we are led to believe.

  2. It is not all to have innovation: the populace needs to be educated to the novelties. Unfortunately the battery lamps were actually used for committing battery; people made light of the necktie so ornated; the dollar motor didn’t move the economy as expected. On the bright side, the bicycle light was voted to be the best in all of USA by voters of the Ohio state.

    1. Looks electric to me; it has a battery and everything.. Of course, hauling along what I presume is a 2 lbs or more lead acid battery for a little lighted tie clip doesn’t sounds all that great either.

    1. A day’s wage today if you work at Walmart is about $70. Go check out a Sharper Image catalog and see how many novelty electronics cost somewhere around that. Not much has changed.

    2. A necktie light?  Yes, that’s a very expensive novelty, though I’ve had fun with microcontroller-driven LED blinky things.

      A bike light that can let you ride safely at night?  That’s really useful, especially since you’re probably using that bike to ride to work.

      The electric motor?  Depends on how strong and well-built it is; it could be anything from a toy to a useful tool for a maker.

  3. Sirs: I would be most appreciative of your consideration of my request to disencumber myself of the “Electric Novelty Necktie Light” which I purchased but Tuesday a fortnight ago from your commercial enterprise, as advertised in “Godfinch’s Weekly Journal of Pertinent and Timely News, Recipes, and Humorous Anecdotes”. The effect achieved by this item was not what I had reason to anticipate nor indeed hoped for; rather than lend an appearance of sophistication and stylish accoutrementery so favored by the gentler sex, I found myself to be the object of derisive laughter, scorn, and even opprobrium. As this garish illuminatory device cost me fully one and one half weeks’ wages, I find myself having no recourse but to call upon your conciliatory nature to allow me to return it forthwith by post and receive in return the amount I so heedlessly paid (less your handling costs, of course). Please respond at your earliest convenience, as the harridan I engaged in matrimony continues to admonish me for this costly acquirement, and her remonstrations are increasingly difficult to abide.
    Thanking you for your kindly consideration in advance, I remain, your humble servant, F. Willingham Frothley.

  4. Wow! A necktie light. I might even wear a necktie (if I owned one first) if I had one of those. But I have to wonder: why do dollars need motors?

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