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NameClaude Neon Light: Contingentement en électricité
TitleWartime restrictions on electricity consumption: Claude Neon Light's complaint
AuthorClaude Neon Light; French Consul
CollectionShanghai Municipal Archives
Sub collectionFrench Municipal Council
Reference NumberSMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1031-1041)
Repository typeArchive

Letter from Claude Neon Light to Mr. R. de Margerie (Consul General for France). Shanghai, March 27, 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1040-1041). 

Sir, Please refer to the notice published March 15, 1941, prohibiting within the French Concession the use after that date of electric currents for signs, advertising or decorative purposes either inside or outside of buildings. We realize full well the emergency facing the authorities due to lack of fuel supplies and the resulting necessities of curtailing the use of electric current. However, we believe it is the intention of the authorities to restrict users of current equitably and not make one firm or organization bear a proportionately larger burden of curtailment than another. We are certain it is not the intention of the authorities to cause any legitimate business a serious loss or tend to force it out of business, yet that is the effect the above mentioned regulation has upon our business. The sole business of the company is the manufacture, leasing and sale of Neon signs for advertising and decorative purposes. About 95% of our business is within the French Concession and the International Settlement divided roughly in proportion to the size of the two municipalities. For the past eighteen months our business has been fairly steady but during that time we find out that our cost of operations has increased some 240%. As a result we have not been making money recently but have found it necessary to curtail expenses to keep our business running in hopes of better times. By reason of the fact that your new regulations was made effective without notice we have already suffered a serious loss because we cannot complete installations  contractors for which were in the process of manufacture and constructions ; furthermore it will be impossible for us to make any sales of signs in the French Concession and we must expect lessees to refuse to make rental payments if they are unable to use their leased signs due to reasons beyond their control. Incidentally, the bulk of our business is in leasing signs. While we have sufficient resoerves to carry on for a few months without he income from signs leased and installed in the French Concession, we cannot carry on indefinitely. Should the S.M.C issue a similar regulation we would immediately be faced with the necessity of closing our business and thus throwing our staff out of employment which would increase the serious unemployment situation existing in Shanghai. The majority of our staff have been employed by us for more than ten years and due to long association and the special training they have had it is both desirable and important to us to maintain our business in operation.

We realize the regulation were not aimed to particularly at our type of signs and we also realize that a person not familiar with the unique qualities of Neon illumination it would appear that a great deal of electric current is consumed by Neon signs. 

[p.2] Actually a neon sign consumes only about one-eight as much current as a sign of equal luminosity using ordinary bulbs. For instance, a neon sign would consume about 0.225 KW per hour, or 1/4 unit per hour, whereas to illuminate a similar sins in size, using four lamps per fot would require 160 lamps each consuming 25 watts, or 4000 KW per hour. Neon lighting has proved to be one of the most economical methods of advertising signs and installations in the French Concession would not mean a saving in fuel of more than one ton of coal, or its equivalent, per day.

We take the liberty of suggesting that in the interest of maintaining business and a degree of prosperity that users of Neon signs should not be entirely deprived of their advertising value - and that Neon signs provide a great deal of road illumination. We believe your Police will agree that well-lit streets discourage the footpad and sneak thief and there may be a possibility that it will be found necessary to increase street lighting if Neon signs were entirely prohibited. As pointed out above, Neon lighting consumes much less current thant lighting by bulbs. We fully appreciate the necessity of impressing the public in general with the necessity of economising on the use of electric current and that one of the most effective methods of bringing this forcibly to their attention is by depriving the public in general of something to which they are accustomed, namely illuminated signs. However, we believe a partial rather than absolute curtailment would be fully as effective in this regard. Therefore, in view of the dratic effect your regulation has had upon our business and the loss of business which may result to users of our signs due to the lack of advertising we respectfully request that you modify your regulations to the extent of permitting the use of neon signs for three hours daily using a fixed period of say, from 3.00 to 9.00 pm, of by arrangement with the police for various hours. In the present state of emergency it is our earnest desire to support the authorities to the greatest possible extent, but for the reasons outlined above we sincerely feel that a modification of the above mentioned regulation is warranted.  

Rapport du Bureau des Travaux au Bureau de Surveillance. Shanghai, 26 juillet 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1051).

Panneau-réclame lumineux que nous ne pouvons pas autoriser actuellement. 

Lettre Municipale à Claude Neon Light. Shanghai, 26 juillet 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1049).

Comme suite à votre lettre du 27 juin 1941, relative à votre demande de permis pour l'installation d'un panneaux-réclame lumineux pour la firme "Bayer" à l'angle Joffre-Cardinal Mercier (Angle Chinese Dispensary) nous avons le regret de vous faire connaître que conorémément à l'article 2 de l'Ordonnance Consulaire N°161 du 9 mai 1941 sur le Contingentement de l'énergie électrique pour les installations nouvelles ou pour les extensions d'installations existantes : "Sera refusée par la Cie française de tramways, sauf en ce qui concerne l'énergie nécessaire au fonctionnement des installations privées d'alimentation en eau des ascenseurs et des réfrigérateurs domestiques, dans les bâtiments à usage d'habitation nouvellement construits ou qui seraient ultérieusement édifiés, ainsi qu'à l'éclairage de ces bâtiments." Il nous est signalé par ailleurs que les Services de Police n'ont pas été saisis d'une demande analogue pour l'immeuble N°812 Avenue Joffre. 

Letter from Claude Neon Ligth to French Municipal Council. "Permit for Neon Signs". Shanghai, 8 septembre 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1037). 

On the dates given below, through the Bureau des Panneaux-Réclames of the Services de Police, we requested permission to erect three signs as follows : 
Apr. 18, 1941 : Union Brewery at Cafe Alazan, 994 Avenue Joffre ; 
Mar. 20, 1941, Bayer Pharma, "Anglo Chinese Dispensary" Ave. Joffre/Cardinal Mercier ; May 14, 1941, Bayer Pharma, "Sine Pharmacy, 812 Avenue Joffre. 

Up to the present, the permits have not been issued not have we received any advice from you concerning them. While we appreciate the necessity of curtailment of the consumption of electricity as outlined in our letter of March 27th, 1941, addressed to Mr. R. de Margerie, as per attached copy, we nevertheless feel that as our business is located in the French Concession, that we pay rates to the Authorities and in general contribute to the support of the Concession, that we are at least entitled to some consideration in respect of our requests. As pointed out in our letter to the Consul-General for France, the manufacture and erection of Neon Signs is our sole business, and to arbitrarily prohibit us from erecting signs would necessitate forcing the closing of our business. If however the Council cannot agress that the small consumption of electricity that the signs consume still precludes their erection, we request that permission be granted to erect these signs minus transformers and electrical conncetions. The sign to serve, temporarily, the same purposes as any other wooden or metal signboard. We guarantee that no electrical connection will be made without the permission of the proper authorities, until such time as conditions in the Concession warrants their connection to the power lines. Trusting that the Council will agress with our contention and grant the necessary permits as requested, .. 

Rapport du Comité de contingentement au Bureau des Permis. Shanghai, 19 septembre 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1035).

En raison du système actuel de contingentement des consommations d'électricité, il y a intérêt à réduire le plus possible, sinon supprimer complètement les installations d'enseignes lumineuses, en particulier les enseignes du type à décharge (néon ou autres). Quoiqu'en dise la "Néon Lights Company", ces enseignes lumineuses n'ont pas une faible consommation; en plus de la puissance wattée, elles soncommet une puissance déwatéée importante (cos = 0,4 à 0,5) our laquelle la C.F.T dépense du mazout sans rétribution. Nous ne voyons pas d'inconvénient à ce que la Néon Light installe ses enseignes sans les allumer, si cela peut lui faire plaisir. 

Lettre du Secrétariat Technique N°162/CFT au Directeur de la Compagnie Française de Tramways et d'Eclairage Electriques de Shanghai. Shanghai, 25 septembre 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1034).

Les 3 demandes pour les adresses indiquées ci-dessus ont été refusées conformément aux articles 2 et 5 de l'Ordonnance Consulaire No. 161 du 9 mai 1941. Avis favorable pourrait être donné sir les panneaux-réclames proposés n'utilisent pas d'électricité comme l'indique l'intéressé au dernier paragraphe de sa lettre. Il appartient au Comité de contingentement de statuer sur la possibilité de dérogation à l'Ordonnance Consulaire No. 161 en faveur du demandeur. 

Rapport de l'Administration Municipale au Bureau de Surveillance (Bureau des Permis). Shanghai, 29 septembre 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1047). 

Nous avons l'honneur de vous communiquer copie d'une lettre adressée à l'Administration Municipale par la Société Claude Néon Lights Federal, Incorporated, U.S.A au sujet de 3 panneaux-réclames au néon dont l'installation n'a pas été autorisée. Les Services de Police déclarent qu'ils n'ont aucune objection à formuler contre l'érection de ces panneaux étant donné leur peu d'importance. Nous vous serions reconnaissants de bien vouloir nous faire connaître votre avis. 

Lettre Municipale - Secrétariat Technique N°1703/D à Claude Neon Light. Shanghai, 7 octobre 1941. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1032). 

Nous avons l'honneur d'accuser réception de votre lettre du 8-9-41 concernant les trois panneaux-réclames ci-après : "Union Brewery" (Café Alazan, 994 Avenue Joffre) ; "Bayer Pharma" Angle Chinses Dispensary angle Joffre/Mercier ; "Bayer Pharma" Sine Pharmacy, 812 Avenue Joffre. Ainsi que vous le suggérez au dernier paragraphe de votre lettre précitée, l'Administration Municipale est disposée à autoriser l'érection de ces panneaux à la condition que, jusqu'à nouvel ordre, ils ne soient pas reliés au réseau électrique. Des instructions ont été données pour que les permis nécessaires vois soient délivrés sous cette réserve. 

Letter from Claude Neon Light to French Municipal Council. Shanghai, January 20, 1942. Source: SMA (FC), U38-4-1114 (1031). 

We have been advised by a representative of the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company, Limited they were informed by the Bureau du Controôle des Panneaux-Réclames, Poste Central, 22 Route Stanislas Chevalier, that taxes on the Neon Signs installed at the Roosevelt Therminal Would not be levied as the licences issued for the erection of these signs were returned to you. In as much as these signs are being disconnected and will no longer be used as Neon signs, we are returning here with Licenses No. 11458, 11460 and 11461. We would appreciate it if you will kindly make the necessary arrangements to cancel the levying of taxes. 

Keywordsconsul ; neon ; electricity ; shortage ; consumption ; police ; permit ; quota ; taxation ; war ; French Concession ; Shanghai ;
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