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The Collector’s Minute: GE Monitor Top Refrigerator

by Mike Wilcox (07/05/10).

The General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator, when it was first on the market, sold for a steep $300 in 1927. Today, one in good working order can sell between 1,000 and $5,000.

The General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator, when it was first on the market, sold for a steep $300 in 1927. Today, one in good working order can sell between 1,000 and $5,000.

When someone mentions the words “Antique Refrigerator,” it’s usually the General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator that comes to mind. GE first produced these for the residential market in 1927, selling them for the then-huge sum of $300. To get around this hefty purchase price, GE used a brilliant marketing campaign, offering these refrigerators for sale through local utilities, which would add a monthly payment of $10 to the electric bill. The plan worked well, as by June 1929, GE had sold more than a quarter million of these appliances. By 1931, the millionth Monitor Top rolled off the assembly line, appropriately presented to the father of the modern assembly line, Henry Ford. The basic single-door model remained relatively unchanged until late 1936; later models having a square case for the compressor.

According to engineering reports, GE had determined that these early refrigerators would last for at least 25 years of continuous operation. It’s a testament to the design of the Monitor Top that there are some in original condition that are still running more than 80 years later.

In the current market, fully restored 1927-36 Monitor tops can retail for more than $5,000, but one can pick up a Monitor Top that’s had some cosmetic touch ups but is in good running order in the $1,800-$2,400 range. Most un-restored examples—in working condition, but in need of some cosmetic restoration, wiring, seals etc. to make them safe and presentable—sell for less than $1,000.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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17 Responses to “The Collector’s Minute: GE Monitor Top Refrigerator”

  1. Nance Schwegler says:

    I have a 1939 GE Monitor Top fridge in very good condition. I am looking for a buyer. Where would be a good resource to go to to find someone interested? I do have pictures. Thanks so much!!

  2. Charles says:

    I have a mid 1930′s G/E monitortop refridgerator. “CK” modal.
    CK-2-D16
    I am tryin to place the year and Value of this item for insurance. ANY help would be helpful.
    Thank ou,
    harles

  3. Ethan La Moure says:

    Hello
    I am looking for a replacement door handle for my GE monitor top refrigerator – model CK-1-B16. It isn’t a latch and catch design, just a surface handle and internal catch. It doesn’t need to be an exact match either.

    Thanks

    Ethan

  4. wpm75 says:

    Hello, I also have a GE Monitor Top Fridge, Model CK-1-B16. It is all original, original paint, original shelving, original foot pedal that still works and the fridge still runs and works well. This fridge was only moved one time since purchase and that is only across the street. This fridge has never been even moved up stairs. If anyone is interested, it is in Connecticut. You can email me. The address is the same screen name on here and is a Hotmail address. I have pictures.

    • Chris McKinley says:

      My wife and I are in the market for just such a refrigerator. We are looking for one that is cosmetically sound and hopefully functions. We live in Atlanta and are trying to piece our home back to original appearance. I am hooked on pre-WWII living, so we plan to use it as our primary fridge (after any needed work). If you still have the machine, please feel free to contact us.

      • Paul Jablonski says:

        I have one that has been in working order. I will send you pics when I can.

      • Saul skolnick says:

        I have one that i am selling on eBay my username is antique_trove

        Item number is 330586000210

        I am in NY.

        Please let me know if you are interested.

        Thank you

  5. Nathan says:

    I have a 1930ish GE monitor fridge i am trying to sell, How do I find out how much it is worth. It does need to be restored…..

  6. Maggie Turnipseed says:

    You can use our Ask a Worthologist service to find out the current value. Condition is very important! Here is a link…. https://www.worthpoint.com/askWorthologist/index
    We charge $19.99 per valuation.
    We also have a classifieds Board for our members, you can pace an ad to sell your refrigerator.
    Hope this helps.
    Maggie

  7. Paul says:

    I have a model ck-1-b16 and looking for an interested buyer.Was a 1 owner and worked til it was unplugged.As far as I know it is all original,If anyone has any other sight I can post this on please let me know.

  8. Dana Chapman says:

    Hello I have a General Electric Monitor Top Fridge, Type CA 2 B16. I received it as a gift given to me when nobody else wanted to take it. It is in very good condition. The electrical cord was so rotten, it literally fell off when being brought to me. Before that it was working being used as an overflow refrigerator in someones garage. The cord has been replaced and when plugged in it did work. However, I believe there may be some kind of a leak in a tube that is located behind the freezer area. I could hear a small noise when the door was opened. The outside of it is in good condition, no rust and paint still looks nice. I do not know the year. Trying to find out what it might be worth as I am going to need to sell it.

  9. Mike Wilcox says:

    General values are provided in the article, any running monitor is worth at least a $1000.00 to a knowledgeable buyer.

  10. Robert E Hoffman says:

    I have a white GE Monitor top refrigerator in my basement. I been trying to sell it. I have the cord for it and it runs. I live in Baltimore, MD.

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