Pressure Lamps International

AIDA

©AWMoore 2004


AIDA is a brand for which detailed information has been hard to hunt down. There have been a number of ideas sent in by contributors to this site, including a lovely suggestion that the name comes from the Aida Express railway between Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and that the lamps were specially made for the train. Alas, this isn't the case, but there is a link to Germany, where the lanterns were indeed designed and made. For quite a long time we knew that Aida and Petromax lanterns were very similar, and that the two names occurred together in advertising material during the 1930s. The designs of some Aida and Petromax lanterns were pretty much identical, so where was the link? For some time it was considered that the original design came from Optimus in Sweden, and that all other like lanterns were copies of an original Swedish design. The favoured opinion now is that the country of origin was Germany, and one design somehow became shared between three or four European manufacturers during the late 1920s.

There was no real evidence, other than some shared addresses for trademark registrations discovered by Anton Kaim in Rotterdam, but then Steve Cole found a lantern in the USA which actually had both names marked on the fount, proving that at some point they were one and the same company. Then, in a visit to the Czech Republic, Anton made a remarkable discovery. This is such a nice story that it's repeated here in Anton's own words.

On my last holiday in the Czech Republic I found in 2 different places, 1 in Plzen and 1 in Prague an AIDA pressure lamp (both the same lamp type). I did not buy them but I had some time to watch these lamps. I saw that both these lamps had the same picture on the pump button. It was a picture of a jumping stag with antlers, and twisted around its chest a kind of trumpet or horn. In the German language a stag is a "Hirsch" and a trumpet or horn is a "Horn". Also antlers means "Horn" in that language.

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In 1899 Jacob Hirschhorn from Germany, Berlin granted there a Trade Mark with the next description: J.H. (of course the first characters of his name) together with a picture with a jumping stag with antlers and twisted around its chest a kind of trumpet or horn. This is,as I explained above, a picture of his name...Hirsch-horn. In 1906 this Trademark changed. The J.H. disappears and only the picture was left. In that very same year he also granted the Trademark AIDA. Later the company name of Jacob Hirschhorn was changed into Hirschhorn AG. In 1926 Hirschhorn AG from Berlin together with Ehrich & Graetz from Berlin, Continental-Licht from Frankfurt am Main and Hugo Schneider AG from Leipzig granted a patent for a pressure lamp ( Nr.461698-AD. 1926). They all worked together to develop a very good lamp. I think E&G called this lamp the "PETROMAX" and Hirschhorn AG used the name "AIDA" together with the above mentioned picture. Who of these companies were making the lamp parts or the complete lamps I do not know, but it is clear the PETROMAX and the AIDA have the same father and mother.

So, that style and design which has lasted so long, and has been reproduced by so many (including Coleman as the Col-Max) started out as a collaborative effort from Ehrich & Graetz, Continental, Hugo Schneider, and Hirschhorn.

Some time around 1928, the Aida name was aquired by Ehrich & Graetz, but the Petromax and Aida brand names still appeared separately on what where by then almost identical lanterns. Later, the company name changed again, and we know that AIDA belonged to AIDA Gesellschaft fur Beleuchtung und Heizung, who in January 1943 were based at Berlin SO 36, Elsenstrasse 87/88

Mike Blanchard suggests that AIDA eventually evolved into Geniol, and there is no doubt that the Geniol brand carries forward all the quality and effectiveness of the AIDA.

Aida model numbers include 105, 214, 214L, 240, 245, 1250, 1350, 1500, 5090, and 5091. Like most of it's competitors, AIDA also made cooking stoves.

AIDA advert

This picture shows an advertising sign alongside an Aida 214 owned by Dirk Frieborg


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