USALite Zep-O-Lite Flashlight
If you've visited this site before, you know I'm a big fan of the USALite brand flashlights. I decided to share some information about the USALite Zep-O-Lite flashlight.
In the mid-1930's, the streamlined design concept was popular in automobiles, trains, appliances, and even flashlights. USALite came out with the Zep-O-Lite in 1936, capitalizing on the streamlined design concept, as well as the airships of the day, the Hindenburg and Graf Zeppelin. It included the outline of a zeppelin on the endcap, along with the name. It was a high quality flashlight which had good sales, and for some reason, was discontinued in 1939 or there about, perhaps because of the end of the zeppelin era in 1937 with the Hindenburg crash, and anti-German sentiment with the approach of WWII.
Despite good sales, the Zep-O-Lite, (located on top) is a very rare flashlight. USALite produced three versions, a 2, 3, and 5 cell model. All are nickel-plated brass, with a slide and push-button switch, and a screw-in style bulb. I have the 3-cell model in real good condition, and I'm searching for the other two. If you happen to have a Zep-O-Lite, you are very fortunate. I haven't seen one for sale since I found this one about 5 years ago! I only know of one other collector who has one, and it's a 2-cell model. See below.
Lawsuits are always exciting, and especially so when then involve flashlights. Scovill Mfg. Co. v. United States Electric Mfg. Corporation, (Read More Here) was decided in New York in 1940. Scovill (who eventually made Hamilton Beach blenders and kitchen appliances), also made flashlights. Scovill made the Zephyrlite, and USA Lite made the Zep-O-Lite, and there was no love lost between the two. They sued United States Electric for design patent and trademark infringements, and brought every streamlined light made at the time into the fray; the Streamlite, Stream-O-Lite, Zephyrlite, Zep-O-Lite, Rocketlite and Lightmaster, and what exactly a streamlined flashlight was. Sears was also mentioned as a retailer who sold "streamlined" flashlights, under the Lightmaster and Homart brands. Scovill lost, and everyone continued to make and market their respective lights for a time.
This is the USALite Zep-O-Lite 2 cell flashlight. These are the only ones I have ever seen.
Different end caps again. The USALite Zep-O-Lite with different end caps. One has lines, the other end cap is smooth. Zep-O-Lite is printed on the end cap on the right, and not on the other one, both have USALite printed on the end caps. I found the smooth end cap on another USALite flashlight, which is not the Zep-O-Lite.
All of these lights were substantially similar a large rounded head, vertical lines on the body, and a bullet-shaped endcap. With the coming and ending of WWII, the era of the streamlined flashlight was just about over, except for Ray-O-Vac who continued to make their bullet-shaped flashlights. But the streamlined concept, and the mention or airships, had come to an end.