Sunday 8 September 2013

Vintage Exide

Today, Exide batteries' logo uses a contemporary, sans-serif typeface. However, their earlier, more calligraphic logo lives on outside a garage in Blackheath Royal Standard. 

Exide have been making batteries since they were founded as the Electric Storage Battery Company in 1888. Storage batteries were then apparently known, rather appealingly, as 'pickled amperes'. The American company expanded rapidly in the 1890s and, while the first batteries were used for lighting, they were soon also powering Philadelphia's streetcars and even, in 1898, the US's first submarine. In 1900, a battery for electric taxis was introduced, called 'Exide' as a shortened form of 'Excellent Oxide'.

In 1912, Cadillac introduced a car with an internal combustion engine but an electric starter. The days of the crank-handle starter were numbered, and a major area of Exide's business was born. The battery remains an essential component today - and, moving full circle, the all-electric car is once more appearing on our streets.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, such batteries were called "accumulators", presumably because they "accumulated" power from being regularly recharged. They were found in many appliances, not just in cars, and a typical usage was in powering radio (or as they were called then, "wireless") sets. This made the wireless portable, if you think of something suitcase-heavy as "portable".

We had a lodger and my mother grumbled that acid splashing from the accumulator made holes in the tablecloth upon which her wireless rested. I do not know whether this was indeed the reason for the holes. When the accumulator went away for recharging, the lodger had to do without her wireless for a couple of days.

My friend's father ran a radio shop, the most untidy and ill-kept establishment I have ever seen. It afforded us almost-exhausted dry-cell batteries, lengths of wire and numerous other goodies for use and experiment. In a room at the back was the charging bay where a row of customers' batteries bubbled away as they were recharged. The air made your eyes prick.

I can understand long-lived companies feeling the need to change their image from time to time but for me, the old logo was Exide, and the new one just fades into the background.