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3941The remarkable Shelvador by Crosley.

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  • mrcooby
    Apr 22, 2014
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      The Shelvador Refrigerator by Crosley


      mid-1930s ad for Shelvador

      Shelvador print ad from the mid-30s (est. 1937)

       Powel Crosley Jr. began his appliance foray with a mechanical refrigerator, the Icyball. But the revolutionary Shelvador brought Crosley to the forefront with an affordable refrigerator that included in-door storage, an idea that hadn't occurred to his competitors, or perhaps they hadn't thought it important enough. It earnbed him millions, while his competition wisely showed their offerings with their doors closed until the patents expired decades later.


      The story goes that a young inventor, his idea rejected by the other white-goods suppliers, approached Crosley, who offered a one-time payment of $15,000 cash or a 25 cents-per-unit royalty. He opted for the former; the latter would have earned him millions.


      The Shelvador changed the industry. Powel's competitors went to work trying to get around his patent while Crosley offered one price, including delivery, installation, and a year of service.

      1933 Prices

      Crosley D-45 Shelvador

      The Crosley D-45 (1933) [Source: The Crosley Brodcaster, December 1933]

      The Model D was built in 3.5 cubic feet, 4.5 cubic feet and 6.0 cubic feet capacity for $89.50, $99.50 and $130 respectively. It was built for easy servicing; the cooling unit could be lifted out for quick changing. A control switch allowed for defrosting; it had an interior light, a compartment for ice trays, and a porcelain interior. And by 1937, the Shelvador offered a built-in Crosley radio in one famous model, later lampooned by the B. O. Plenty family's stove with the built-in TV in the Dick Tracy comic strips.
      While World War II raged, Crosley ads trumped hope for the effort and for its eventual finale, reading "Twice as much food to the front! to explain the support of the troops and the latest model in “shelves on the door” refrigeration."

      “…the day will come again when millions of American women can realize their dreams of having a handsome, new Crosley Refrigerator…”

      Shelvador Ad During WWII

      To concentrate on his new Crosley auto models, Powel sold his appliance line to AVCO, who quit the business in 1956 due to stiff competition from the other refrigerator manufacturers who now could include interior door shelving because the patents had finally expired.

      1949 Shelvador Ad