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General Electric History and GE Collectible Gifts

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 2

Formation of General Electric

General Electric (GE) Logo
General Electric has deep roots going back to the late 1800s.  For inspiration GE looks primarily to one of the founders, the famous inventor and business genius Thomas Edison.  In 1890, Edison combined several of his business interests under one corporation called Edison General Electric. Around the same time, Charles Coffin formed Thomson-Houston Electric Company and gained access to a number of key patents by buying up a number of competitors.

Finding it difficult to create products without access to each other's patents, the competitors created General Electric by the 1892 merger of Edison General Electric of Schenectady, New York and Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts.  The company was incorporated in New York, with the Schenectady plant as headquarters for many years thereafter. Both the original plants remain in operation under the GE banner. Canadian General Electric was formed shortly thereafter.

The General Electric Story

Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1896 with GE as one of the original 12 companies. GE remains only one of those first 12 companies in the DOW today.  In 2011, Fortune ranked GE the 6th largest firm in the United States, as well as the 14th most profitable. Other rankings for 2011 include #7 company for leaders (Fortune), #5 best global brand (Interbrand), #82 green company (Newsweek), #13 most admired company (Fortune), and #19 most innovative company (Fast Company).

GE Today

General Electric is a true conglomerate comprised of a number of primary business units.  Each unit is itself a vast enterprise, many of which would, even as a standalone company, rank in the Fortune 500. The list of GE businesses varies over time as the result of acquisitions, divestitures and reorganizations but the primary business units are  appliances, aviation, consumer electronics, electrical distribution, electric motors, energy, entertainment, finance, gas, healthcare, lighting, locomotives, oil, software, water, weapons, wind turbines.  Since finance is the largest business, some observers say that GE is really a finance company that happens to have manufacturing arms.

Reportedly General Electric's tax return is the largest return filed in the United States.  The 2005 return was approximately 24,000 pages when printed out, and 237 megabytes when submitted electronically.

2011 Revenues were over #150 Billion  USD and book assets exceed $751 Billion USD.  287,000 employees make GE and its subsidiaries run today.

General Electric for Collectors

General Electric (GE) Vintage Sign
As one of the world's great manufacturers, the General Electric Company has produced hundreds of thousands of products.  Some early products are highly collectible. Because GE is in so many businesses, including entertainment with RCA and NBC, there are many different areas to collect GE related memorabilia.

GE vintage advertising is also highly collectible.  A GE neon sign, powered by electricity and made by the company to advertise it's own products, would make a great gift for a GE enthusiast.

General Electric Stock

Perhaps one of the coolest gifts for an American institution like General Electric is a gift of the company itself. Few know that they can actually buy a framed single share of many large companies, but these shares look great on an office wall as a unique decoration.

A General Electric Stock Certificate
The gift of GE stock is the gift that keeps on giving. As a registered shareholder, your General Electric Company enthusiast will get Annual Company Reports and quarterly dividend checks.  If they want, they can vote on company business by mail or online, actually having a small say in how GE is governed.  As a registered shareholder, they are free to attend the annual general meetings of GE.  

Also as a registered shareholder of General Electric they can join the dividend reinvestment and stock purchase program which is a good way to increase their stock holdings.   OneShare offers General Electric single shares like the one pictured for the market value of the actual share, a transfer fee, and the frame, plaque and shipping cost.

Many companies are moving to strictly electronic registration, so the fun of collecting live stock certificates may be over within a few short years. Intel, for example, is one of the DOW companies that no longer issues live stock certificates but since GE is the only remaining company in the origional DOW, collecting a General Electric stock certificate is a step toward assembling a DOW stock certificate collection.

Primary General Electric Business Units

This list changes over time - the source is here.

  • GE Capital
    • GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Energy Financial Services, GE Real Estate, GE Americas, GE Asia and GE Europe, Middle East & Africa
  • GE Technology Infrastructure
    • GE Aviation, GE Healthcare and GE Transportation
  • GE Energy
    • GE Energy Services, GE Oil & Gas, GE Power & Water
  • GE Home & Business Solutions
    • GE Appliances & Lighting, GE Intelligent Platforms
  • GE Healthcare
    • Amersham plc
    • Datex Ohmeda
    • Whatman
  • NBCUniversal (49% ownership, remaining owned by Comcast)
    • NBC- National Broadcasting Company
      • NBC Network Television stations
        • WNBC 4 - New York
        • KNBC 4 - Los Angeles
        • WMAQ 5 - Chicago
        • WCAU 10 - Philadelphia
        • KNTV 11 - San Jose/San Francisco
        • KXAS 5 - Dallas/Fort Worth
        • WRC 4 - Washington
        • WTVJ 6 - Miami
        • KNSD 39 (cable 7) - San Diego
        • WVIT 30 - Hartford
      • NBC Entertainment
      • NBC News
      • NBC Sports
      • NBC Studios
    • NBCUniversal Sports & Olympics
    • NBCUniversal Television Group
      • Universal Media Studios
      • NBC Universal Television Distribution
      • NBC Universal International Television
    • EMKA, Ltd.
    • NBC Universal Digital Media
    • NBC Universal Cable
      • A&E Television Networks(co-owned with The Hearst Corporation and Disney/ABC):
        • A&E
        • The Biography Channel
        • Crime & Investigation Network
        • The History Channel
        • The History Channel en Español
        • History Channel International
        • Lifetime
        • Military History Channel
      • Bravo
      • Chiller (horror-themed cable channel, launched March 1, 2007)
      • CNBC
      • CNBC World
      • MSNBC (co-owned with Microsoft)
      • NBC WeatherPlus
      • mun2
      • SyFy
      • ShopNBC
      • Sleuth
      • USA Network
      • Universal HD
      • The Weather Channel
      • WeatherPlus
      • NBCUniversal Global Networks
        • NBCUniversal Global Networks
        • LAPTV (Latin America) - co-owned with Paramount Pictures (Viacom), MGM and 20th Century Fox (News Corporation);
        • Telecine (Brazil) - co-owned with Globosat Canais, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, MGM and 20th Century Fox;
        • Universal Channel Latin America (except Brazil
        • Universal Channel Brazil (co-owned with Globosat Canais);
        • Sci Fi Channel (Latin America)
        • NBCUniversal Global Networks España.
    • Telemundo
      • KVEA/KWHY - Los Angeles
      • WNJU - New York
      • WSCV - Miami
      • KTMD - Houston
      • WSNS - Chicago
      • KXTX - Dallas/Fort Worth
      • KVDA - San Antonio
      • KSTS - San Jose/San Francisco
      • KTAZ - Phoenix
      • KBLR - Las Vegas
      • KNSO - Fresno
      • KDEN - Longmont, Colorado
      • WNEU - Boston/Merrimack
      • KHRR - Tucson
      • WKAQ - Puerto Rico
  • Universal Studios (co-owned with Comcast)
    • Universal Pictures
    • Focus Features
      • Rogue
    • Working Title Films
    • Universal Studios Licensing
    • Universal Animation Studios
    • Universal Interactive
    • Universal Pictures International
    • Universal Studios Home Entertainment
      • Universal Home Entertainment Productions
    • United International Pictures (co-owned with Paramount Pictures/Viacom);
    • Universal Operations Group
      • Universal Production Studios
      • Universal Parks & Resorts
  • qubo - Qubo Venture,LLC

Other Company Collectible Articles of Interest

Ford Motor Company Early Logo

Ford Motor Company Memorabilia 

Incorporated back in 1903, Ford has grown to become one of the leading automakers in the world today.  Ford memorabilia is highly collectible.






Feb 23, 2012 8:49am
Interesting, I'll check into the stock certificates. Good info, Cheers!
Feb 23, 2012 3:19pm
I enjoy collecting stock certificates. I hope to own the whole DOW someday.
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