A color advertising display card for Alaska Refrigerators shaped in the form of a life preserver. A trompe-l’oeil life preserver design, bordered in rope, frames a cartoon illustration of two children dressed in white fur standing in a snowy landscape beside an open refrigerator with a wood exterior. Inside the refrigerator are bottles of milk, a bowl of eggs, a watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. The life preserver is decorated with the company name in the upper portion, and slogan, “A Life Preserver for Foods,” which is written in large lettering around the lower portion and also appears within two smaller yellow life preserver designs in the upper portion. The design is printed on paper mounted, as issued, on stiff cardboard, with a fold-out cardboard flap glued to the back to stand it up on a tabletop or in a store window.
A newspaper advertisement appearing in a 1921 for the Sterling Furniture Company of South Norwalk, Connecticut, shows the same model of refrigerator appearing in the advertisement offered here. The Sterling Furniture ad describes it as “The Famous Alaska refrigerator, cork insulated, best of oak case, a real life preserver of foods. We have them in all sizes, Porcelain or White Enamelized line.” The company also promoted itself to dealers in a 1920 trade publication with an illustration of this model, and promoted the product as “the most modern and improved scientific refrigeration” backed by “a marvelously effective advertising and selling campaign.” Alaska Refrigerator actually made iceboxes, which differ from contemporary refrigerators in that they were not electrically powered, but relied on a large block of ice kept in one of its compartments to cool the food. Until the 1930s, blocks of ice were harvested during the winter from frozen lakes, stored in ice houses, and delivered to homes year round by an “iceman.”
The Alaska Refrigerator Company was founded in 1878 in Michigan City, Indiana. By 1891, when it moved its main office and factories to Muskegon Heights, Michigan, it was the largest maker of home iceboxes in the U.S. The company expanded rapidly during the next 20 years. In the 1920s, it heavily promoted their cork insulation, an improvement over the earlier charcoal. At the same time, however, competitors started producing electric refrigerators. By 1926, sales of Alaska Refrigerators were down and the company was sold to Coldak Corporation. Coldak later became part of the Norge division of Borg-Warner.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light wear, handling, toning, minor abrasions. Some greater wear to edges.
“Alaska Refrigerator/Norge.” Lakeshore Museum Center. http://www.muskegonmuseum.org/_documents/Essays/pdf/Alaska%20Refigerator.pdf (22 July 2013).
Grand Rapids Furniture Record. Vol. 41. 1920. pp. 109-110. Online at Google News: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=I-MgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=WW0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=4789%2C1056597 (22 July 2013).
“Join Sterling’s Refrigerator Club.” The Norwalk Hour. 14 June 1921. Online at Google News: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=I-MgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=WW0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=4789%2C1056597 (22 July 2013).