Matthew Luckiesh

Many collectors of early incandescent lamps in the United States concentrate on early Edison lamps when they first start looking for vestiges of our lighting heritage. That is certainly understandable. However, the appearance of later lamp designs also carry with them interesting stories. One person who was involved with the introduction of new lamp types will be considered here; that person was Matthew Luckiesh.

In general, Matthew Luckiesh was interested in determining the conditions under which the best visibility was achieved. It was through scientific studies of the relationship between light and seeing that certain lamp types were designed. We shall look briefly at some of his achievements.

Matthew Luckiesh was born in Maquoketa, Iowa in 1883. After attending universities in Iowa he started to work for the National Electric Lamp Association in Cleveland in 1910. The results of his work were chronicled in 11 U.S. patents, 28 books and about 860 scientific and technical articles, published between the years 1911 and 1960.

One of the "early" lamps that can still be found has a coiled tungsten filament in it and the glass, while transparent, is blue. This lamp was the result of an attempt to develop one that approximated average daylight in its color characteristic. These lamps were used in department stores and in other industries where it was important to determine accurate discrimination of the colors of objects. These were referred to as MAZDA Daylight Lamps.

Another lamp attributed to Luckiesh was the MAZDA Flametint Lamp. The thought behind this lamp was to create mood rather than adequate light for serious seeing. The lamp was designed to resemble the color of licking flames. They were often used in wall fixtures in hallways. In 1927 about 25-35% of all lamps sold were of that design. In 1929 sales totaled about 13 million.

Luckiesh was also involved in the development of White MAZDA lamps, colored lamps, the MAZDA Photographic Lamp and White Bowl lamps. The last product attributed to him was a lamp designed to be used base-up in ceiling fixtures. The bulb end was hemispherical in shape and was enameled to produce a soft-tone effect. It was made available to the public about 1949-50 and was known as the 50-GA lamp.

Luckiesh's career was exceptional and he was known as the "Father of the Science of Seeing."