Westinghouse Mobilaire vintage fans
Westinghouse Mobilaire vintage fans are 1950s electric two speed floor fans made by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
Background and Description
Westinghouse Electric Corporation was founded in 1886 in New York. George Westinghouse championed the alternating current rather than the direct current favoured by Thomas Edison.
The company were pioneering in employing electricity right from the start, their main aim to develop and produce "apparatus for the generation, transmission and application of alternating current electricity." (The Westinghouse Companies in the Railway & Industrial Fields, 1905).
Westinghouse developed a vast range of electrical goods and appliances from irons to radio receivers, as well as securing patents for vast industrial projects, such as converting the Manhattan Elevated Railway from steam power to electricity, and converting Niagara Falls to electric power. The Westinghouse Corporation was split into several companies to deal with their different products and researches.
By the mid 1950s, their advertising slogan: ‘You can be sure… if it’s Westinghouse’, became a national catchphrase.
The company, re-named the Westinghouse Electric Company, branched out into nuclear power development from 1957 onwards.
Westinghouse Mobilaire fans are usually beige or white, although there are rarer versions in robin’s egg blue or aqua. They possess a chain pull switch. When running, the fan purrs ‘like a well balanced motor’, according to one eBayer, another states that it ‘runs smoothly without excessive noise’.
The Mobilaire is a heavy duty fan. It has heavy weight gauge metal mesh guards front and back. The fan is free standing, with adjustable height, and metal and rubber wheels for easy manoeuvrability.
Most specific to the design of the Mobilaire are the five independent heavy gauge finned/louvered metal contoured ribs, 21” in diameter. It is only a Mobilaire if it has these five ribs. Other models were produced by the Westinghouse company in a similar style but with just three or four ribs, so these are not Mobilaire model fans.
Collecting Westinghouse Mobilaire vintage fans
Antique and vintage fan collecting is a growing area of interest. Fans are usually defined as antique if they were produced before 1950, and vintage if produced after 1950, so it is into this latter category that Westinghouse Mobilaire falls. They are often referred to as Industrial Age or Mid-Modern fans. Occasionally people call them ‘bug fans’.
Despite these various descriptions, it is not difficult to recognise a genuine Westinghouse Mobilaire. They are always constructed of five ribs, and they always have two logo badges: a circular badge on front mesh guard, with ‘Westinghouse Mobilaire’ surrounding the recognisable underlined company ‘W’ logo, and a long thin badge on the rear guard reading ‘Westinghouse’.
They are often in need of a good clean, the ribs easily collecting dust, and may require rewiring for safety’s sake, if planned to be used. The plug, wiring, switch and motor must be checked.
Westinghouse Mobilaire vintage fans generally sell on eBay for between $50 and $250, most of them for around $150. Value is largely dependent on condition, as they are prone to rust but many have been preserved wonderfully.
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