Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ghost signs (36): Frigidaire

This rather well-preserved advertisment is in Pontivy, Brittany. It tempts passers-by with 'a real Frigidaire, produced by General Motors (France)' but they'll have to go all the way to Lorient to get it - about 35 miles.

Despite the fine condition and bright colours, this advertisement is probably well over half a century old. In 1955, General Motors moved from the crown logo shown here to a distinctive script.

The old logo had been around for longer than you might imagine. Fridges were first sold in 1913. Alfred Mellowe founded the Guardian Refridgerator Company way back in 1916, but as each handmade fridge took a week to assemble the business wasn't exactly a storming success. In fact, by 1918 he had to sell out to General Motors as he was nearly bankrupt. The Frigidaire and its crown logo were born.

However, the earliest machines required a separate compressor and motor, often housed in a different room, and cost more than a car. The first self-contained unit was the 1923 Frigidaire, and fridges became more common towards the end of that decade. The example pictured to the left had its mechanism in the circular unit on top. They were relatively affordable at a mere US$300; it would be some time, however, before the fridge would become common in Europe. When this advert was painted, well under 10% of French households had a fridge.


Sebastien Ardouin said...

Great sign. 'Frigidaires' were so popular across France that the word and its shortened version 'frigo', both with a small 'f', are often used in place of the correct one for fridge: réfrigérateur.
Have a lovely time in Brittany.

CarolineLD said...

Thank you! Of course - 'frigo' from 'frigidaire'. We were taught 'réfrigérateur' and 'frigo' in my long-ago schooldays so I'd vaguely (and wrongly) assumed that the one came from the other.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

At least 'frigo' is close to Latin 'frigus' (cold) and since it isn't a trade mark, it is allowed, at least in spoken language.

shipwright's palace said...

very nice ghost sign on New Road off Whitechapel. Do you know it? I'll try to take photo next visit.

CarolineLD said...

No, I don't know that one and would love to see a photo.