This is an amazingly kitschy, circa 1950s Helms Products lighted box featuring two semi- transparent panels, each with a different image of the great outdoors. The bulb is in the center and when lit, the images glow like a television screen. FUNKY!
The frame of the box is a white washed or "pickled" wood, most likely Birch. Perfect vintage condition. This style is very hard to find. Most are in frames that are hung on the wall.....this one is a tabletop version and actually resembles a television set.
Measures just over 12" wide by 9" tall and almost 4" deep.
Some interesting history on Helmscenes:
While not exactly TV lamps, "Helmscenes" are certainly a close relation. They were manufactured by Helms Products in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a company founded by Laurence Helms. Having just sold Helms Industrial Development Company, a company that produced replacement automobile grills and grill guards, he was looking for another manufacturing arena to conquer. A poorly-lit framed photograph displayed at a local restaurant caught Helm's eye, and he came upon the idea of illuminating pictures evenly from the back. This notion became a multi-million dollar business.
Initially Helms contracted some stages of production to others, but over time the company became increasingly self-sufficient, manufacturing their own birch frames and doing their own photo-gelatine work. In 1952 production began in a new 78,000 square foot plant on Plainfield Avenue, where Helms Products employed 140 people and made 1000 Helmscenes a day. Independent photographers across the country were used to capture scenes for new designs, and 35 salesmen aggressively sought-out new dealers. Helmscenes were made in various sizes and configurations, but all utilize a plastic screen imprinted with a back-lit image.
Although best known for their many rustic outdoor images, religious scenes and verses were also used, as well as reproduced paintings. Popularity of Helmscenes eventually waned, and the company ceased production in 1968. Laurence Helms passed away in 1987. Helmscenes are quite durable, but today many show signs of rough handling or careless storage, and examples in top condition are rare and valuable. Similar products, sold under the Lumascene brand, were made by Millcraft Products in Allegan, Michigan.