Burgess Displays - The STEVE GITERMAN Report
Merchandisers and displays have always been a great way to grab the customer’s attention, house stock in in minimal amount of space, and spur sales. Burgess was no exception to these sales tools, and like other flashlight manufacturers, provided retailers with flashlight and battery displays, complete with stock. These included displays containing an assortment of 10 or 12 flashlights and battery displays, made of sheet metal, wire, or cardboard. Competition for counter space was fierce, and only those displays that generated maximum sales won out.
Burgess was particularly noted for some really eye-popping cardboard displays back in the late 1930’s. These are three examples of some of their most striking counter-top displays, for their 2-cell penlight and Firefly pocket flashlight.
Burgess introduced the No. 92 "penlight" in chrome-plated brass in 1931, using 2AA uni-cells or the Z-2 2-cell tubular pen-light battery pack, along with the No. 91 Midget Spotlight that took one AA cell. Like most Burgess flashlights, other manufacturers produced the lights for sale under the Burgess name. These were manufactured by the Underwood Battery Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Originally, they took a solid-glass Mazda 24 lamp, the same size as a standard flashlight bulb, but the solid glass produced a focused spot of light. Both were available in boxed displays of 10 lights, complete with batteries, and an attractive display card (included) inserted in the back.
Burgess introduced the familiar TL-3 penlight bulb in 1938, and Underwood redesigned the No. 92 to take the new bulb, painted with brown stripes. In 1939 or 1940, they produced a new, fully-carded, full-color countertop display of 10 lights, measuring 10.5" x 16.5", with an easel on the back to stand it up. This display has eight of the original 10 lights; the other two fit in the pop-out mounts visible in the center right and left of the display. The retailer evidently punched a hole in the top of the display to mount it on the wall (bad idea-it does not hang straight).
Burgess also introduced the K-2 Firefly pocket flashlight at the same time, using the new TL-3 bulb. We believe this is the first all-plastic light sold by Burgess. The Firefly was produced in red, black, blue and white, opened clam-shell style, and both the push switch and bulb were mounted sideways. These came carded on a cardboard display with the same graphics as penlight display; the 10-K2 assortment of 10 lights, all in the same color, and without batteries. These displays are NOS with a double-easel support, complete with box, missing only one blue light.
The Firefly is a very rare light; we suspect a short production run due to the onset of WWII. We have not located any catalog listings or advertising materials with the Firefly, nor seen any other examples of the white or blue lights, other than those on the displays. Niagara produced most of the Burgess lights at the time, but we can’t say for sure that they made the Firefly. Underwood did not venture into plastic.
Who is the woman pictured, and was she featured on any other Burgess displays? Please let us know if you recognize her!