Friday, January 22

1882 Lane-Fox Lightbulb

Here  is a very early and scarce 20 candle-power hand dated British Lane-Fox incandescent lamp.  Much has been written on the historical importance of the contribution of Lane-Fox to the incandescent lamp and it won't be repeated here.  I assume that if you're reading this, then you know what you're looking at :)What has been more of a mystery is the Latimer Clark Muirhead & Co. label found on some Lane-Fox lamps such as this one.  It is speculated that Latimer Clark Muirhead & Company was commissioned by the Eastern Electric Light & Power Company to record and document the precise electrical measurements of these lamps as noted on the hand written labels. Outside of this, the extent of the relationship between L.C.M. & Co. and Lane-Fox is still a bit of a mystery.The Eastern Electric Light & Power Company, formed in 1881, was an offshoot of the Anglo Brush Corporation. During the same time, The Anglo Brush Corporation acquired some Lane-Fox patents subject to the rights of British Electric Light Company. The company exported electrical goods to the far East including Lane-Fox incandescent lamps. The following notice appeared in the January 14th, 1882 issue of The Electrician:

"Electric Light For India. -The Malta Standard of 4th January, after referring to the lighting of the Theatre Royal by the Eastern Electric Light Company with Brush lamps, which we have already announced in a recent note, remarks that Mr. J. Fotheringam, the company's engineer, was to sail for India on the 6th January, where the company are about to introduce the Brush and Lane-Fox lamps."

Some more information about the Eastern Electric Light Company can be gleaned from this short bio about engineer G.A. Grindle that appeared in The Electrical Engineer, February 5th, 1892:

"Grindle, G. A.Educated privately, and afterwards at Oxford . In 1876 entered the School of Telegraphy and went through a course, and subsequently visited India and America, returning 1880. In the same year entered the service of the Anglo-American Brush Company, passing through the shops, and carried out several installations for them, finally taking charge of the City of London experimental lighting (Brush section) 1881. In 1881 was appointed chief electrical engineer to the Eastern Electric Light and Power Company, Limited, and proceeded to Egypt, where he carried out several installations until compelled to leave at outbreak of Anglo-Egyptian War. Returned to England, and for several months was engaged experimenting for Eastern Electric Light and Power and Indian and Oriental Storage and Electrical Works Companies, Limited, conjointly, chiefly on storage batteries, then proceeded to Bombay to take charge of the Eastern Electric Light Company's operations in India, where he carried out numerous installations. Returned to England in 1884, and was appointed manager to Belfast Electrical Appliances Company, erecting for them various important installations in Ireland. In 1886 entered into private practice in London, and in 1889 was appointed resident engineer for Messrs. Mather and Platt on the City and South London Railway undertaking. He now remains in Messrs. Mather and Plait's service."

Instead of the usual mercury sealed construction, this Lane-Fox lamp employs platinum lead-in wires through a glass pinch. These platinum lead-in wires rise to larger diameter copper posts which are crimped over the platinum lead-in wires. As in the mercury seal constructed lamps, large drilled carbon cylinders are used here as a joint to fasten the carbonized vegetable filament to the copper posts. Indian ink is used on the top of the carbon cylinders as a paste joint to secure the filament to the carbon cylinders. From my experience, this construction is far less common than the more complicated mercury sealed construction so often associated with Lane-Fox incandescent lamps.This lamp is in very good condition.  The filament is perfect, the tip is unharmed, the glass is clear, and the all-important paper label is fully intact and legible documenting and dating the lamp to 1882.  The only negative is that one wire has been severed at the base of the lamp, so only one insulated wire remains exiting the lamp's glass pinch.  This historically important lamp would make a fine addition to any collection or museum.

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