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