Pam’s Pictorama Post: This might best be described as a you may never have seen it coming post, but I do like to mix things up occasionally and these earrings were a recent unusual acquisition.
I believe my introduction to Reddy Kilowatt was the lightbulb lamp. I can’t now remember if I saw it on American Pickers or if it was an auction – I want to say I saw it both ways maybe and just can’t remember which first. I fell hard for it, but me and extremely fragile objects like this don’t have a promising future so I never pursued ownership of one especially at the rarified prices these fetch. Still, a seed of fascination was born.
I am surprised to learn that Reddy was designed all the way back in 1926, hailing from Alabama as a commercial ploy to increase electric consumption. (Yes, it is hard to imagine a time when we perceived the need to increase our use of electricity.) Wikipedia says he was imagined as an “electrical servant” and notes that his ears are wall sockets and of course his nose a light bulb. It is interesting to find that his image is still currently under copyright.
As for the earrings, I was late to stumble on a sale by one of my favorite sellers on Instagram a few months ago (I think it was a @marsh.and.meadow.overflow sale) and realized that I had just missed these rather splendid Reddy Kilowatt earrings. I had never seen this rarified item before and I had a significant ping! of disappointment. Much to my surprise and delight howevr, this pair which sports their original card, turned up in my feed about a month later via @oldghostsofhollywood who happily sent them right off to me.
As someone who cannot wear pierced earrings I was additionally pleased that these earrings re screwbacks so I can actually wear Reddy. The front of the card reminds you that Reddy is, The Mighty Atom and the Symbol of Your Investor-Owned Utility Company. Inside he greets you, Hello: I’m Reddy Kilowatt, your good Electric Servant who works long hours for low, low wages. Just think of the many jobs I do in YOUR home…office..farm…store or plant…then think of how little each job costs! The copyright here is 1955.
He is also Your Favorite “Pin-Up” and on the back it reads, I’m a Busy Little Atom, I split myself in two and multiply as many times as I have jobs to do! I’ll work for you for pennies, I’m fast, efficient, steady…so any time…to ease your work – Just “plug in,” folks – I’m Reddy! Your Electric Servant!…
When I revealed today’s topic to Kim he shared that there was a Reddy Kilowatt comic book of some note. Although our research did not turn up one that precisely matched his memory, there was indeed a comic book which came out in 1946 as an EC giveaway. Stories and art are identified as by Del Porter and others in one listing. I am told that the book relates Reddy’s story from ancient times until modern day and evidently includes a special Reddy Kilowatt polka complete with music. A reprint seems to team him with the story of Thomas Edison in another edition.
The post war period created an opportunity for increased electric usage and Reddy grew in evidence with a proliferation of trinkets (tie, stick and lapel pins, cuff links and bracelets are all available online) and a litany of other giveaways. Disney was approached for a cartoon in ’43 which never moved forward and it was Walter Lanz who brought him to animated life in a short film which came out in March of 1946 and the comic book was actually produced in conjunction with this film.
Wikipedia says that there was an attempt to trot Reddy back out in the 1970’s as a mascot for energy conservation, but somehow this spiffy little energy spendthrift dynamo could not make the transformation and he did not achieve renewed fame in his new role.