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Tracing the G.E. Vortalex, Standard, and Quiet Fan models from 1932 to 1963 (Compiled by Bill Kreiner)

The Quiet Fan (sometimes known as Quiet Blade Fan), with overlapping wings, was introduced in 1932, and continued through 1941. The Standard was introduced in 1937, and continued until well into the 1960s. The Vortalex (also called Super-Quiet Fan), with its unique “trailing tip” wings, was designed by W. K. Skolfield, and was introduced in the Spring of 1938. It finally ceased production in 1963. This chronology will cover these three models only. All fans are AC and oscillate, unless otherwise noted. The information in this document is as correct and complete as it can be at this time.


1932 – 1933:

The original Quiet Fan had one speed only and had a 3-wing polished aluminum blade. The grille had “S” shaped bars. This fan’s base, cage, and motor housing were black.

8” Quiet Fan desk model – Form AN, Cat. # 55x165 (some were suffixed with B)


1934 – 1935:

A 12” Quiet Fan was introduced, as a companion to the 8” model. This version had a 4-wing blade. The 8” was available in black or cream, whereas the 12” came in black normally, but a few were painted in Hunter green. Blades continued to be polished aluminum through the end of production.

Forms Codes – AQ, AQ1, AS1 and (1935 only) AR

8” Quiet Fan desk model – Cat. # 55x165 (some were suffixed with B)
12” Quiet Fan desk model – Cat. # 49x491


1936 – 1937:

The Quiet Fans acquired a new streamlined grille sometime during 1936 (early 1936 fans retained the older grille), and a 10” (3-wing) desk version became available, as did 10” and 12” pedestal versions. Pedestal versions were a bronze color with ivory-colored blades.

In 1937, a new 2-speed 12” Standard model was introduced, with slender, paddle-shaped wings. This model was, throughout its production, which ended in 1950, equipped with a cardboard base, to which felt had been glued.

Form Codes – AS, AS1

8” Quiet Fan desk model – Cat. # 55x165 (some suffixed with B)
10” Quiet Fan desk model – Cat. # 49x723
10” Quiet Fan pedestal model – Cat. # ??
12” Quiet Fan pedestal model – Cat. # 49x716
12” Quiet Fan desk model – Cat. #’s 49x491, 49x492, 49x494, 49x495, 49x496 (all AC); 49x493, 49x497 (both DC)

12” Standard desk model (1937 only) – Cat. # 49x929



1938 -- 1941:

For 1938, the Standard and Quiet Fan ranges were carried over without physical changes. New Vortalex models with unique blade design were introduced in Spring. These came in 16”, 12”, 10”, and 9” (actually 8.5”) sizes, and there were also 24” pedestal, counter, and ceiling-mounted industrial fans. The household desk models were normally black with aluminum blades, but 10” and 9” models were available in cream, with very early 9” models being dark green and having brass badges. The household pedestal models were finished in a bronze color and had ivory-colored blades. The 1938 16” pedestal was fixed-height only. Only the 16” Vortalex models were made with the 4-wing blade during 1938 and 1939, with smaller models having 3-wing blades. 16” Vortalex fans had capacitor motors and rotary switches. 12” Vortalex fans had sliding switches. The 24” industrial models had 3-wing blades, and were finished in chrome, and had black blades by the early 1940s. It appears that a few of the very early ones were a bronze color, blade included. This pre-war generation 24” industrial was a 2-speed fan with no choke and no motor cover, and had its switch on the bracket. (There apparently was also a chrome 30” pedestal at some point, but neither production-year data nor Cat. # is available.)

For 1939, the basic 1938 lineup was carried over, with the following changes and additions: the 16” Vortalex became available as an adjustable-height pedestal, and the 12” Vortalex pedestal acquired the adjustable-height feature. The 12” Standard model received a new front-bearing housing sans grease cup. Form designations disappeared at the close of this year.

For 1940, Vortalex 16” and 12” models acquired carrying handles. The 12” Vortalex model acquired a 4-wing blade. The fans were still black with aluminum blades in most cases, but a few 16” and 12” Vortalex desk fans had black blades. All 16” and 12” G. E. oscillators acquired a new oscillator crank disk with 3 connections, to allow 90 degrees, 65 degrees, or 45 degrees of oscillation. A 10” Standard (with red badge and stamped, one-piece blade) was introduced, and most Standards were finished in black from now through 1948. New “FM” numbering system was introduced on some models.

For 1941, Vortalex models were carried over from 1940. The Standard line was expanded again to include a 16” model (with aluminum badge, like the ordinary 12” model), a 10” non-oscillating model, an 8” non-oscillating model (with stamped blade), and a 12” 1941-only (possibly early 1942 as well) “oddball,” which had a red badge, a unique blade, and a bullet-shaped motor housing. This Hunter-like fan was the only 12” Standard listed in the 1941 catalog, although the 1940-type was apparently still in production. The Quiet Fans ceased production at the close of this year (or possibly early in 1942).

All 1938 models had Form Code AT, and most 1939 models had Form Code AU (see below). 1940 and 1941 fans no longer had Form Codes.

8” Standard fixed desk model (1941 only) – Cat. # FM8S11
10” Standard desk model (1940-1941 only) – Cat. # 78x829
10” Standard fixed desk model (1941 only) – Cat. # FM10S11
12” Standard desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 49x929
12” Standard desk model (1941 only, special model) – Cat. # FM12S1
16” Standard desk model (1941 only) – Cat. # 78x233

24” Vortalex floor model (1938-1941) – Cat. #s 78x861A (AC), 78x863A (DC)
24” Vortalex counter model (1938-1941) – Cat. #s 78x861B (AC), 78x863B (DC)
24” Vortalex ceiling model (1938-1941) – Cat. #s 78x867 (AC), 78x869 (DC)
16” Vortalex desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 49x936 (AC), 78x202 (DC)
16” Vortalex pedestal model (1939-1941) – Cat. # 78x236 (Form AU-2 for 1939 only)
12” Vortalex desk model (1938-1939 only) – 78x191*
12” Vortalex desk model (1940 only) – Cat. # 49x491 (AC), 78x596 (DC)
12” Vortalex desk model (1941 only) – Cat. #78x593 (AC), 78x596 (DC)
12” Vortalex pedestal model (1938 only) – Cat. # 78x198 (fixed height, this year only)
12” Vortalex pedestal model (1939 only) – Cat. # 78x255 (Form BC-1, adjustable height)
12” Vortalex pedestal model (1940-1941 only) – Cat. #FM12M1
10” Vortalex desk model (1938-1939 only) – Cat. # 78x181*
10” Vortalex desk model (1940-1941 only) – Cat. #78x806 (AC), 78x809 (DC)
9” Vortalex desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 49x942** (AC), 49x945 (DC)
9” Vortalex fixed desk model (1938-1941) Cat. #49x950 (AC), 78x172 (DC)

9” Vortalex pedestal model (production ceased before 1941) Cat. #78xM86

* It is unknown whether these are for AC or DC models. These are the only numbers known for the 1938-1939 12” and 10” Vortalex fans at this point.

**Some with this Cat. # are suffixed with B, the significance of which is currently unknown.

9” Quiet Fan desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 55x165
10” Quiet Fan desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 49x723
12” Quiet Fan desk model (1938-1941) – Cat. # 49x491






1942 – 1945:

Although 1942 Vortalex prototypes were produced and photographed that had the 5x3 grilles and grease cups of the 1938-1941 models, it appears that the production models, scarce as they were, had 3x3 grilles. Data on these wartime models is somewhat sketchy, and should be taken with a grain of salt. The desk models seem to have had brownish-bronze painted cages, tan blades, and forest-green bases. It is uncertain if the Vortalex range and the smaller Standards were produced only in 1942, or if they remained in very limited production during the entire war period; the latter is likely, since fans had become a near necessity. The Standard 16” definitely remained in production during the conflict, primarily for government, military, hospital, and factory use.

It is uncertain if DC models were made after 1941. If any were made, they are scarce, and at the moment, there is no data on them. The fans listed in this and subsequent sections, therefore, are AC models.


16” Standard desk model– Cat. # FE16S1
12” Standard desk model – Cat. # FE12S1
10” Standard desk model – Cat. # FE10S1
10” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # FM10S11
8” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # FE8S1

24” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM24M
16” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM16V
16” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM16M
12” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM12V

12” Vortalex military desk model, finished in black with chrome guard – Cat. # 78x874
12” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM12M1
10” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM10V
9” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM9V (no data on existence of fixed model)


1946 – 1948:

Early postwar Vortalex desk and pedestal models appear to have been painted in the brownish-bronze color only (with blades being tan). Both Vortalex and Standard models were carried over, with Cat. #’s changing slightly. During 1947, the Vortalex models acquired a wing nut to adjust angle. Grease cup was deleted from the gear box, although this may have been the case on the 1942 through 1945 production models. The 24” pedestal of this time period was a 3-speed fan with a choke coil, motor cover, and switch on the motor cover. Circa 1948, the Standard 16” acquired a red badge. At least some 10” Standards were finished in brown, and had tan blades.

16” Standard desk model – Cat. # FE16S2
12” Standard desk model – Cat. # FE12S2, FM12S2, FM12S21
10” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM10S41, FM10S41B
10” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # ??
8” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # FM8S31


24” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM24M1
16” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM16V1
16” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM16M1
12” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM12V1
12” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM12M11
10” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM10V1
9” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM9V1 (no data on existence of fixed model)


1949:

Both Vortalex and Standard models were painted in a color known as “Gray Mist” (actually a metallic turquoise), and Vortalex models acquired red badges. There is no data regarding the production of a Vortalex 9” fan or Standard 8” fan. It appears the Standard 10” fan was equipped with a rubber hub beginning this year. There does not appear to have been a 16” pedestal. The Vortalex 12” and 10” models acquired the cardboard base used on all Standards since 1937. Early-1949 16” Vortalex fans used screw-on plastic switches, but during the year they were replaced by the snap-in switches of the 12” models. The 24” pedestal continued, and was finished in “Gray Mist” as all the rest of the 1949 Vortalex and Standard fans were.

16” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM16S1
12” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM12S41
10” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM10S61
10” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # ??

24” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM24M(?)*
16” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM16V21
12” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM12V41
12” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM12M41
10” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM10V41

*Suffix unknown at this point.


1950:

Vortalex models acquired a new chrome concentric-circle grille. There was no longer a carrying handle attached to the 12” model. A new motor replaced the capacitor type (for the 16” Vortalex) and the housing was redesigned to accommodate three long screws to hold the front plate and grille on. Some 16” Vortalex fans made with sliding switch. It does not appear the 12” pedestal model was in production anymore. 1950 was the last year for the 16” Standard, and the current 12” Standard. The 24” pedestal continued unchanged, but this was its last year.

16” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM16S2
12” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM12S43
10” Standard desk model – Cat. # FM10S63
10” Standard fixed desk model – Cat. # FM10NS1

24” Vortalex pedestal model – Cat. # FM24M(?)*
16” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM16V23
16” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM16V25 (sliding switch version)
12” Vortalex desk model – Cat. # FM12V43

*Suffix unknown at this point.


1951 onwards:

A new line of stamped-blade 12” Standard fans was introduced that resembled the 10” version. 1951-1959 12” models were coded F11S106 and F11S125, and 1960-1963 (at least -- late ones were painted in “blue spruce”) 12” models were coded F13S125 and F15S125. Presumably all of these were oscillators. Cat. #’s for fixed ones are unknown at this point.10” 1951-1959 models were coded F12S107, F13S107, and F14S107 (oscillating) and F11A103 (fixed), and 1960-1963 fans were suffixed with S107 (first part of number unknown). A 12” Standard pedestal model appears to have been produced, but the Cat. # is currently unknown (perhaps F12M125). Owing to the plethora of variations of these G.E. fans, there are certainly more Cat. #’s than the ones listed above. These will be added as data is acquired.

The Vortalex retained the chrome grille but was otherwise painted Frost Gray (through 1961), and had a red badge (through 1959). The Vortalex went through a few changes, which will be detailed below. Only 16” Vortalex desk fans were produced from 1952 onwards.

Vortalex fans:


1951:

16” model; Cat. # F11V163. Very few of the 12” model produced (Cat. # unknown)



1952:

16” model only; Cat. # F11V163; handle permanently attached to motor


1953 – 1955:

Cat. # F12V163; larger power cord to motor


1956 – 1957:

Cat. # F12V163; handle moved to top of grille


1958 – 1959:

Cat. # F12V164; hub size increased, causing blade diameter to increase to 16.5”, although wing-size remained the same


1960 – 1961:

Cat. # F12V164; green badge used


1962 – 1963:

Cat. # F13V164; green badge continued, but fans now painted in Blue Spruce

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