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A Brief History of the Ever Ready Company

 



Like many of the early companies dealing in the manufacture and selling of Christmas lights, The Ever Ready Company was founded by a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Akiba Horowitz entered into the United States through Ellis Island in 1891. He was born in Minsk, Russia. A successful businessman in the distillery trades, he emigrated to the United States when anti-Semitic policies in Russia became unbearable.  Upon his arrival in America, he changed his name to Conrad Hubert. He was then 35 years of age.

Unable to establish himself in his area of expertise, Hubert managed to start a cigar store in New York City. This was soon followed by many other businesses, including a restaurant, a jewelry and watch store, a boarding house and a novelty shop. It was this novelty shop that was to become pivotal in Mr. Hubert's many contributions to American industry and manufacturing.

The beginnings of Hubert's success in America were rooted in a now-obscure electrical novelty of the time: the electric scarf or necktie light. First marketed in America by the Ohio Electric Works in 1895, the device was a typical necktie pin with the addition of a tiny light bulb. Unobtrusive wires connected the bulb to a button switch and battery hidden in the wearer's pocket, and the light was made to flash at an opportune time by a discreet push of the button.

The pins were available in a wide variety of shapes and styles: among the most popular were various faces with glowing red eyes. Other styles included seasonal images such as skulls and Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween, pearl and jeweled designs and Father Christmas and reindeer figures during Yuletide.

 

 

A hand carved bone stickpin, complete with very small carbon filament lamp. Ever Ready catalog page, showing lighted
scarf pin components
Another Ever Ready catalog page, illustrating
the wide variety of scarf pins that
were available.

 

Hubert's interest in electrical novelties soon piqued when he began to realize impressive sales from his inventory of electric scarf pins. As his  business grew, he purchased a patent for an electrical bicycle light, and later, the patent for the first tubular flashlight. Hubert is often credited with the invention of the flashlight, but that distinction belongs to David Misell, the man from whom he purchased that patent. Conrad Hubert does, however, get the credit for first introducing the flashlight to the world. A close look at the patent for the flashlight pictured to the left reveals that Conrad himself was a signer-as-witness on the papers.

Hubert founded the American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company in March of 1898. He was now 42 years old, and already quite a financial success. He started out making the bicycle lights and the Flash Light, then spelled with two words. (The device was called a Flash Light due to the fact that batteries of the time were quite weak, and carbon filament light bulbs drew a high amount of current. The weak batteries combined with lamps of a heavy current draw enabled the device to merely flash light for a few moments before having to let the battery "rest").

Hubert's brilliant marketing ploy for his Flash Lights was  to offer them to New York City policeman, resulting in high visibility for the product and a near instant success for him. Soon, everyone was realizing the value of the flash light, and it was to be a matter of a few years before he had established a 10,000 square foot factory on Centre Street in New York City. It was January of 1899. In those factories, Conrad Hubert and his American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company made flashlights, batteries and light bulbs under the name "Ever Ready," and employed 60 men and women.

This ad appeared in the January 28, 1899 edition of Electrical Age Magazine. Another version of this ad states:
"Gives from 6000 to 8000 lights before battery requires renewal."

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