Pressure Lamps International

The Brite-Lite Company

South Washington Avenue / West Main Street (142), Albert Lea, Minnesota, USA

111 S Main Street, Albert Lea

 

The Brite Lite Co was started in 1914, and effectively took over the manufacturing side of the Albert Lea Gas Light Co, who's president and founder Soren Swenson had died. There are examples of virtually identical lamps marked with each of the company's name. It is thought that around 50 workers and 20 salesmen were employed at that time, with distribution offices in Denver, Colo., Fargo, N.D., Chillicothe, Mo., and Moose Jaw, Sask., Canada. The firm’s expanding line of products were being sold under the brand names of Brite-Lite, Comet, Home-Lite, with the emphasis very much on hollow wire lighting and fuel systems.

briteliteTAD30111912p6

1912 advert showing the Brite-Lite name used by The Albert Lea Gas Light Co.

After Swenson’s lingering death from typhoid fever, John F.D. Meighen took over the presidency and production continued under the name The Brite-Lite Company. The name change might just be an attempt to modernise the rather old fashioned and cumbersome name "Albert Lea Gas Lamp Co" to a snappier title. Whatever the reason, it is thought the staff and workers remained largely unchanged. The business continued for another 6 years, then The Brite-Lite Co was absorbed by the ever growing American Gas machine Co, also based in Albert Lea. During this time The Albert Lea Gas Light Co continued to exist in trading terms, perhaps simply in name, but after 1920 it looks as if all traces of both companies were lost.

briteliteFW01121916p150

Advertisement for Gasoline Lamp, Lantern and System light from The Farmer's Wife, December 1916

 

It may be no coincidence that the advertisement above from the Farmer's Wife paper appeared right next to a similar advert by The American Gas Machine Co, also in Albert Lea, whereas adverts for pressure lamps and lanterns by Foote Manufacturing, the Sunshine Safety Lamp Co and Acorn Brass Manufacturing all appeared on different and separate pages. So just maybe there was some co-operation already between them. The Brite-Lite Co also manufactured and sold the "Gem" gasoline iron.

An added complication comes with the very nature of the name "Brite Lite". Such was the tendency to adulterate the English Language with snappy, attractive (to some!), and brief names it really is not surprising that the words Brite Lite were used by others in the same time period. For example, Brite Lite Oil was a widely used product from The Cudahy Refining Co, and the Electrical & Engineering Corporation in New York also marketed lamps called "Brite Lite", but these were electric! Add in the significance of the hyphen for even more complication!

A few lamps by Brite-Lite still exist in collections today, and with the help of other collectors some photos may appear here in time.

 

References:

The Alton Democrat 30 November 1912 p6

Albert Lea Tribune Column: Illuminating Brite Lite

The Farmer's Wife 1 December 1916 p150

 

 

 

 

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