The benjamin light has a long history of ruggedness and utility, whether as a hardy barn lighting fixture or an elegant stem mounted pendant. A steel trough shaped reflector concentrates light on a single point, and vitreous enamel coatings resist the harshest conditions. This fixture was designed and produced by the Benjamin Electric Manufacturing Company of Des Plaines, Illinois, between 1898 and 1958.
Reuben Benjamin was not a man to be content with the status quo. His approach to business was a bit more scattershot than Edison’s, as Benjamin was always throwing new ideas against the wall in an effort to find a winner. This was a recipe for success, though not without some bumps along the road.
In the midst of a depression, Benjamin Electric began to struggle and needed help in order to get back on its feet. As a result, he formed an alliance with the Royal Enameling and Stamping Works of suburban Des Plaines, absorbing their factory and hiring their president, J. Horton Fall Jr.
It was a great partnership, as both firms thrived during the recovery. In fact, when the war ended and business accelerated again, the companies expanded to New York City, San Francisco and London.
In 1957, however, the fortunes turned again, and the Benjamin business was acquired by Thomas Industries of Louisville, Kentucky. Hoyt Steele left his post as president of the Des Plaines operation, and though there was a brief strike by Local 1150 (Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers), things were mostly peaceful between the two firms.