174 – Electrical Development and Supply

While Ralph and the linemen crews were building transmission lines, Nathan Jones opened the Electrical Development and Supply Company store in Larned. It sold all manner of electrical appliances, from irons to ranges to fans.

Electric Appliance Store – 1920s
Larned Chronoscope – December 18, 1919

Jones had started an appliance store in his first venture in Sumner County, and it was a big success. He repeated his business model in Larned.

Electric appliances for the household were one of the biggest new market segments in the 1920s. 

Electric consumer appliances proliferate 1920
Larned Chronoscope – December 25, 1919

Electric Iron – 1920
Electric toaster – 1920
Hoover vacuum – 1920
Electric washing machine – 1920
Western Electric fan – 1920

1920 Prices

The Tiller and Toiler – December 18, 1919

But it’s also important to remember that everything is relative. As we review these costs, don’t forget that the average household income in the United States in 1920 was approximately $3,269.40–that’s about $42,142.08 today, with inflation–so keep that in mind as we travel back 100 years and do a little window shopping.

But if you wanted a washing machine, it would’ve cost $81.50. With inflation, that’s about $1,054–which doesn’t seem too far off by today’s standards.

The newest and hottest vacuum on the market, the Hoover Electric Cleaner, set households back about $39—or $503 today. How badly do you want clean carpets?

Here’s What Things Cost 100 Years Ago – Country Living

Nibbles Extra Credit – The Roaring Twenties

The 1920s were called the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, the Age of Intolerance, and the Age of Wonderful Nonsense. Whatever the name, the era was the beginning of modern America. It’s the only decade in American history that has a name.

The world war was over. The flu pandemic was over. Now the cities of America and Europe would transform the way people lived.

When we think of the 1920s, we think of Flappers doing the Charleston or wing walkers on a plane or Dixieland jazz. We think of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Those images aren’t wrong, but they condense an entire decade down to cliché images.

For most Americans, the Roaring Twenties modernized the way they lived their everyday lives.

This decade saw the large-scale development of automobiles, telephones, films, radio, and electrical appliances. Social mores and culture changed more than they had in centuries. Women won the right to vote. Black music and culture became prominent.

Consumerism, leisure, and self-realization

Only in the 1920s did the Protestant work ethic and the old values of self-denial and frugality begin to give way to the fascination with consumption, leisure and self-realization that is the essence of modern American culture.

America: A Concise History

People were working fewer hours a week and earning more money. For those with steady jobs, their family could afford a little diversion now and then.

But not all Americans shared in the prosperity. Income equality got worse. The rich got richer. Blacks and farmers and native Americans were among those who didn’t benefit equally.

Consumer Goods

New consumer goods—radios, telephones, refrigerators, and above all the motor car—made life better.

Electric appliances changed the American home dramatically. Electric irons, refrigerators, vacuums, and washing machines cut labor time.

Americans started snacking on some of the same foods still eaten today. Wonder Bread made its debut in 1921.

Popsicles were patented in 1923, and Kool-Aid was introduced in 1927.

Wheaties was one of the first to use a radio advertising jingle.

Time magazine, founded in 1923, changed the way Americans got their news. It was the nation’s first weekly newsmagazine.


2 thoughts on “174 – Electrical Development and Supply

  1. Brenda Teply September 8, 2021 / 2:10 pm

    It was really fun seeing some of the early, electrical appliances. I especially like the toaster.


    • Mark Jarvis September 8, 2021 / 3:01 pm

      Me too. And can you imagine what a pleasure an electric fan must have been!


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