Charge of the Light Brigade: Eveready Flashlight Battery Display, ca. 1940s

National Carbon Co., which released the first commercial dry-cell battery in 1896, purchased the American Eveready Co. in 1914. Eveready’s founder, Conrad Hubert, invented the first flashlight in 1898, and the accompanying D-size battery, released the same year, became an instant necessity. Easy, convenient and safe, this new handheld product was relatively inexpensive, reliable and allowed for directed light without the production of heat or flame.

At Dorset Finds, we’re rather partial to 20th century advertising pieces. This item, a tin lithograph display stand, lacks some of its original luster. The red panels that once burned bright have dulled to a mustardy hue. There are areas of heavy pitting and scratches, but this is somewhat expected given its utilitarian function. More importantly, one can make out all the text, including the Eveready slogan of the day, “They Last Longer.” All the components are straight, and the wonderful, hinged sections maneuver correctly: The sprung header-sign moves forward and back into place; the bottom drawer slides in and out using the original curved handle; the inner tray can be raised and lowered (presumably to restock the battery supplies); and the pressed front, made to look like rows of batteries, clicks perfectly into place to shield the inventory that remains behind.

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