In the latter part of July, 1896 John Cooper Whiteside mentioned to John Chamberlin Fish, a resident of Shelby, Ohio, the claims Adolphe A. Chaillet made about his idea for an improved incandescent lamp. This aroused the interest of Mr. Fish as it sounded like it would be a good business venture to manufacture such a lamp. John C. Fish was an enthusiastic individual who was always looking for a new outlet for his energy. John Whiteside had been the superintendent at the Cooper Engine Works in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. On August 7, 1896 a newspaper article announced1 that a contract had been negotiated with Chaillet (of Columbus, Ohio) and Whiteside and some Shelby venture capitalists. These individuals were: W. W. Skiles, G. M. Skiles, M. H. Davis, Jonas Feighner and John Fish. Chaillet and Whiteside were hired as permanent employees of the new company. On August 20, 1896 the stockholders met and elected the board of directors2. A description of the Shelby Works appeared in late 18964. It is of interest to quote verbatim from a write-up titled "Shelby Electric Company," which appeared in Western Electrician in 189713. The article text was reproduced in The Shelby News14:
"The village of Shelby, in Ohio, is conspicuous for several things in the manufacturing world, among which is the Shelby Electric company, manufacturer of incandescent lamps. This company was organized in 1896, and began putting its lamps on the market during the early part of 1897. The vigorous advertising methods pursued by the management of the company brought its name into immediate prominence, and the product has, since the start, been taken far in advance of the capacity of the plant.
"The Shelby Electric company is composed of a number of capitalists, who, having been successful in investments in other manufacturing establishments in the village, principally in the steel tube works, which is said to be the largest bicycle tubing establishment in the world, the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing company, which is one of the leading bicycle factories of this country, and the Shelby Mill company, which produces daily nearly 1,000 barrels of flour, thought they saw an opportunity for an investment in the line of incandescent lamp manufacturing, through the chance opportunity of interesting Prof. A. A. Chaillet, formerly of Paris, France. Prof. Chaillet succeeded in demonstrating to these gentlemen and to the electrical engineers whom they consulted that it was possible for him, by using an entirely new method, to produce an incandescent lamp that, he felt confident, would be superior to any on the market.
"In order to demonstrate the practicality of making this lamp, this company was organized, and the $100,000 of its stock sold within 24 hours after the investigators had been satisfied that Prof. Chaillet could actually produce the lamp he claimed. The company proceeded very conservatively, building a factory only large enough to manufacture 1,000 lamps a day. That there might be no mistakes, and that the experience of the various factories making incandescent lamps in this country might be taken advantage of, in addition to the knowledge and experience obtained by Prof. Chaillet during the many years he had manufactured incandescent lamps in France and Germany, the company secured the services of Joseph Hardwick, who for a number of years was engaged in the laboratories of the Thomson-Houston Electric company at Lynn, Mass., during which time that company expended a great deal of money in investigating different lamp filaments, and also the services of Charles F. Stilwell, who was intimately connected with Mr. Edison, working with him during the entire period of all of the experimenting at Menlo Park, where the first incandescent lamp was made, and who afterward had entire charge of the Edison factory manufacturing incandescent lamps at Hamilton, Ontario.
"The personnel of any new enterprise is interesting as well as important. For the benefit of those who know the Shelby Electric company only by reputation, the portraits of the men behind it are given, with the following outline sketches:
"W. W. Skiles, the president of the Shelby Electric company, is also president of the Citizens' Bank, president of the Shelby School Board, a director of the Shelby Steel Tube company and also a director of the Shelby Water company, and largely interested in the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing company. Mr. Skiles is senior member of the firm of Skiles & Skiles, well-known railroad attorneys.
"G. M. Skiles, vice-president of the Shelby Electric company and junior member of the law firm of Skiles & Skiles, is also vice-president of the Shelby Water company, a director of the Citizens' bank, a director in the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing company, and is largely interested in the Shelby steel tube works...
"M. H. Davis, treasurer, is president of the American League of Winter Wheat Millers...Mr. Davis is also president of the Shelby Mill company and president of the Shelby Water company, a director of the First National Bank and a director in the Shelby Steel Tube company.
"J. C. Fish, secretary of the Shelby Electric company, and in whose hands the management of its affairs has been placed, is a director of the Shelby Mill company and a director of the Shelby Water company...For the last eight years he has been engaged in the water works department of the John H. McGowan company of Cincinnati, Ohio, as a salesman of water works engines.
"A. A. Chaillet, the technical manager of the company, and upon whom it chiefly depends for its advice regarding all points pertaining to the manufacturing of its product, was engaged in the factory operated by his father near Paris, France, when the incandescent lamp was made by them in Europe. The professor has been engaged as a manufacturer of incandescent lamps since 1878, having had charge of the laboratory of the largest factory in Germany. Mr. Chaillet came to this country in 1892 to manufacture lamps at Marlboro, Mass. He had been engaged in Germany by the Schaefer company to assist it in making filaments and remodeling its plant. This factory was closed by the Edison company shortly after Professor Chaillet had completed his work of remodeling. The professor was then engaged in the designing department of the General Electric company at Lynn, Mass., and has recently completed the design of an electric locomotive for the Jeffreys Manufacturing company of Columbus, Ohio. Professor Chaillet is not only an electrician of extensive experience and knowledge, but is a thorough chemist and mineralogist.The manufacture of lamps at the Shelby Works was discontinued about 1914. However, lamps with Shelby labels were manufactured after that time at other locations. The sales organization of the Shelby Lamp Division continued until Apr 1, 1925, at which time the name was changed to the Empire Lamp Division, it being headquartered in Buffalo, NY. The name of the factory in Shelby changed through the years. Shortly after it first opened it was referred to locally as the Globe Works25. It then became the Richland Carbon Lamp Works and then, after the tungsten filament lamp was manufactured, it was called the Richland Mazda Lamp Works.
"John Cooper Whiteside, A. S. M. E., for a number of years superintendent of the Cooper Engine works at Mount Vernon, Ohio, is the superintendent of the Shelby Electric company. Mr. Whiteside has also made a specialty of electrical engineering, and this, with the mechanical knowledge his long experience has brought him, is a great aid to the company, as it puts him in position to give advice on any point pertaining to an electric plant, in the engine, boiler, or any other part of the plant, or to any difficulty in wiring or any of the electrical apparatus.
"Jonas Feighner is one of the directors of the company. Mr. Feighner is one of the most experienced bicycle men in the country, having been connected with the Lozier Manufacturing company of Cleveland, Ohio, for the past 15 years. Mr. Feighner has gained a great reputation as a pusher for trade, and his large experience with the large manufacturing plants in the country has made his advice invaluable to the Shelby Electric company.
"Henry Wentz, director, is a man of extensive experience, being also a director of the Sutter Furniture company and secretary of the Mutual Plate Glass Insurance association. He is largely interested in the Shelby Steel Tube company, and is a director of the Citizens' bank. Mr. Wentz is one of the largest owners of real estate in Shelby, having laid out the boulevard, which is the most beautiful residence portion of the town.
"Edwin Mansfield, another director, is a member of the law firm of Mansfield & Long, and is also largely interested in the Shelby Steel Tube works and a director of the Citizens' bank.
"B. J. Williams, a fourth director, is cashier of the First National bank, a director of the Shelby Steel Tube works and a director in the Shelby Water company.
"Each of the four gentlemen last named is well qualified to act as director of a manufacturing company; they have all been identified with financial transactions of considerable importance.
"Joseph Hardwick, the lamp expert, has had a wide American experience, having served with the Thomson-Houston, Columbia and Universal companies.
"The intention of the company is not to make lamps to see how cheaply they can be made, but to see how well they can be made; and although the Shelby lamps are new to a great many consumers, the price has been generally maintained from the start. The success of the company thus far has been remarkable, as by the first of March it had received so many orders that it was necessary to begin running nights and to increase the size of the factory...By the middle of April it was decided by the board to again double the size of the factory, and this was done as speedily as possible, the factory now having an output of 4,000 lamps per day, and the force is still obliged to run nights, but another addition to the factory is contemplated.
"The product of the Shelby Electric company is different from that of other manufacturers of lamps, as it makes a specialty of lamps with a tipless bulb of exceedingly high efficiency and long life. The company claims many advantages for its method of production, chief among which is the filament, which is radically different from that used by any other manufacturer, and the method of exhausting, which is said to be much more perfect than that used by any other lamp factory in the country. Each Shelby lamp is tested at its normal voltage for three hours before it is shipped out.
"It is interesting to quote a report of the first factory test from a local paper:'The object of the first test was to demonstrate the efficiency of the Shelby lamp as compared with others. To do this, lamps of various makes were operated at the same time to show the difference in brilliancy when burning at their normal voltage and candle power. The Shelby lamp was easily distinguished as the most efficient by everyone present. Not satisfied with this test, several lamps of different makes were tested in the same manner, in order to select the most efficient lamp to compare with.
'The most brilliant lamp of other makes having been determined, it was selected for comparison with the Shelby lamp. The result of the conclusion of this test was watched with great interest by all present, and much to the satisfaction of those interested. The difference in favor of the Shelby lamp was so apparent that no doubt was left in the minds of the most skeptical that claims made by Prof. Chaillet for his new filament were not only true but could be considered modest in the extreme. The question of efficiency, although one of the most important in connection with the use of incandescent lamps, is not the only one.
'The purchaser of lamps must consider in connection with the efficiency, the length of life of the lamps he buys, as it is possible to burn lamps at so high an efficiency as to materially shorten the life, thus making the lamp uncommercial. That the remarkable claims of Prof. Challiet might be verified regarding the life of his lamp at its increased efficiency, the new Shelby lamp and its competitors were burned at a gradually increased voltage constituting what is known as a forced life test.
'Lamp after lamp of various makes burned out and exploded until the laboratory was lighted alone by the Shelby lamp, not one of the Shelby lamps having been visibly injured by the extreme severity of this conclusive test.
'At present the Shelby Electric company is not a member of the lamp pool.' "
Adolphe A. Chaillet (1867- )
Of especial interest, as it regards lamps manufactured by The Shelby Electric Company, is A. A. Chaillet. It appears little has been written about him and what has appeared should be put in proper perspective. The reason why Chaillet was brought to Shelby was mentioned above1. In the following some additional information is presented.
A. A. Chaillet was living in Shelby in the year 1900 when the U. S. Census was taken. It follows, therefore, that some new information could be obtained by looking at those records. That was done. The census information regarding Chaillet was taken on June 18, 190022. It is stated that Adolphe Chaillet was 32 years of age at that time, having been born in France in November, 1867. In 1900 he lived on Grand Boulevard, Shelby, Sharon Township, Richland County. The place of birth of Adolphe's mother was in Russia and his father's place of birth was in Sweden. It is stated that he had been married for five years.
The wife of Adolphe was listed as Maud L., who, at that time, was 23 years of age, having been born in April, 1877. Her birthplace was in Massachusetts. Maud's mother and father also were born in Massachusetts. The Chaillet's three children were: Alexander B., born in November, 1896; Arnold, born in August, 1898; and, Catherine, five months old and born in January, 1899. The three children were born in Ohio. In actuality a check at the Richland County Vital Records Office in Mansfield, Ohio indicated that Catharine M. was born on December 28, 189920, 21; her mother's maiden name was given as Maud Bickmore.
The original Chaillet lamp, shown at the left, appeared in Electrical World on February 6, 18977. The complete details of the lamp design were not revealed in that article. It was a tipless lamp with a carbon filament that was manufactured using a secret process. Quoting directly from the article:
"The lamp possesses a number of peculiar features which it is claimed give to it certain elements of superiority above all others. The filament is square cut by means of automatic machinery from sheets of material produced by a secret chemical process. The cut filament, after being formed, is attached to platinum terminals which are sealed into the sides at the lower end of the lamp bulb. The filament is of such high resistance that in the Shelby lamps it is shorter than that of most other commercial lamps of equal rating. The bulb is not exhausted from the top, which in connection with the exceedingly small filament used makes the completed lamp one of the smallest, also one of the neatest, lamps on the market."Chaillet had as assistants, Joseph Hardwick, who had worked in the lamp department of the Thomson-Houston Electric Company and Charles F. Stilwell, the younger brother of Thomas Alva Edison's first wife, Mary. Hardwick also worked for the Universal Electric Company in Cleveland, Ohio, which dissolved in 189649.
In reality it would have been difficult to prove conclusively that a new lamp design would perform in a superior manner to a competitive lamp that had a different filament configuration. The reason for making such a statement here is that while power input into a lamp could be easily measured, the light output had to have been measured in a spherical photometer. In the 1880s and 1890s light output measurements were usually measured with a horizontal photometer. A horizontal measurement determines light output in only one direction rather than a total integrated value. Thus, while the Chaillet design might have been a better one relative to the competitive lamps it is not easy to conclude that now.
Jas. Wormley & Co. had sole agency for the Shelby tipless lamp in Cook County, IL and Minnesota from the first day of manufacture8. In 1902 Wormley became a director of Shelby Electric28.
This writer finds some mystery in Chaillet's actual role at Shelby Electric. The Company was started based on ideas Chaillet had regarding an improved incandescent lamp. The details of Chaillet's new lamp were never completely revealed however, apparently being considered proprietary in nature. The Chaillet lamp, with a new filament, was tested with others in January, 18975, 6. Manufacturing of the lamp started about February 1, 1897. The lamp was put on the market in March, 1897.
Addendum added April 4, 2002 to this write-up of February 20, 2002
An article titled "The Shelby Electric Company's Lamp Filaments" appeared in Electrical Review, Vol 30, No 10, March 10, 1897, pg 111, in which some confusion regarding the origin of Shelby lamp filaments was discussed. Some manufacturers apparently thought that Shelby filaments were purchased in Europe. The ER telegraphed the Shelby Electric Company for the purpose of determining the truth about Shelby filaments. The following are excerpts from Shelby's response:
"The question of taking licenses to manufacture under the Westinghouse patents is one which we have not definitely decided....We have secured copies of the entire number of patents, which they claim to own or control, and we know positively that we do not want to infringe on any of them. We think that we are the only company manufacturing lamps in the United States to-day who can make such a statement. With reference to the filament which we use, we would say that we are using a square filament, not a cellulose filament. Our filament is not imported from Germany. We are manufacturing it here in Shelby, but it is the same filament which our Professor Chaillet discovered in Germany, and one that is most successfully being used by two of the most prominent lamp factories of Europe, by a special arrangement with our Professor Chaillet. The filament is much nearer pure carbon than anything on the market, it being so hard after being carbonized that it will scratch glass very readily....We could ourselves secure patents on over a hundred different devices, which we use in our manufacture, but prefer to keep them secret....We are not selling lamps on prices, but on quality..."
Adolphe Chaillet was named technical Manager of the Company and was also on the Board of Directors until their annual meeting on August 29, 1902 when he was not re-elected28.
The design that was perhaps most recognized to be a "Shelby" lamp was patented by Chaillet on June 2, 190226. The application for that patent (No. 701,295) was filed on October 22, 1900. The basic idea behind the filament and lamp design was to radiate a large portion of the light in a downward direction when the lamp was burned base-up. The first page of the patent follows.
If one refers to the article in Western Electrician13 it can be seen that Chaillet's early lamp experience in Europe is in some doubt. For example, it's difficult to conclude that Adolphe Chaillet was involved in lamp manufacture in the year 1878 when he was only eleven years of age.
It is of interest to note that Adolphe Chaillet was granted only two U. S. Patents during the time period from 1896 through 1922; both19, 26 were applied for while he was associated with Shelby Electric.
The activities of A. A. Chaillet after about 1902 are not known to this writer. A look was taken at "The American Family Immigration History Center" website50 and the name of Chaillet did appear. If one simply inserts the surname "Chaillet" without a first name initial, nineteen matches appear. One can then determine that Maud Chaillet and her daughter, Catharine, arrived at Ellis Island on July 15, 1904 aboard the ship "Monterey", the port of departure being Veracruz Llave, Veracruz, Mexico. On that same list one finds that A. A. Chaillet arrived at Ellis Island on July 5, 1914 on the ship "Antonio Lopez", the port of departure being Puerto Mexico, Veracruz, Mexico. It was stated that A. A. Chaillet's place of residence was Mexico City. It might be tentatively assumed, therefore, that Chaillet worked in Mexico City from about 1904 to 1914. Corroboration of that conclusion follows from the text card that accompanies one of William J. Hammer's lamps that is now stored in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Lamp No. 1905-798 is a Chaillet lamp that was manufactured in Mexico53.
John Chamberlin Fish (1866-1909)
Another contributor to the Shelby Electric incandescent business was John C. Fish. Quoting from a History of Richland County, from 1808 to 190833:
"...He is a native of Sheldon, Vermont, and a son of Cortez F. and Helen (Carlisle) Fish, the former proprietor of a flour mill. The son pursued his education in the public schools of Akron and Shelby, Ohio, and in a private school at Gambier, Ohio...He is now the president of the National Electric Lamp Association, the Shelby Electric Company, the Shelby Printing Company and the Ohio Seamless Tube Company. He is also the vice president of the Shelby Telephone Company, the president of the Auto Call System Company and a director of the Shelby Water Company and the Citizens Bank...Through use of the 1900 Soundex and Miracode systems23 and Ohio Cemetery records44 the life spans of the members of the Fish family were determined: John C. (1866- 1909); Anna May (1867-1939); De Forest R. (1893-1917); Cortez Carlisle (1896-Jan 1965); John C. (1899-1951). Family members are interred in the Oakland Cemetery, Sharon Township.
"On the 2d of March, 1892, Mr. Fish was married to Miss Anna M. Roberts, and they have three sons, De Forest R., Cortez Carlisle and John C., aged, respectively, fifteen, twelve and ten years..."
Although the Shelby Electric Company was organized because of the lamp ideas of A. A. Chaillet, it appears that most of what was made known and published came from John C. Fish. Chaillet's original lamp design was given little coverage in the technical literature of the day; however, a few months after Shelby began production Fish patented a lamp that received much more coverage.15, 17 The first page of Fish's lamp patent follows:
Two lamps, a tipless as well as a tipped one, shown below, were featured in an article in October, 189817. The tipless lamp corresponds to the Fish design shown above. The patent date shown on the lamp is incorrect. The date shown, August 3, 1897, was the application date; the patent was granted on February 8, 1898.
Lamp Labels and Trade-Marks
Some labels that could be found on Shelby lamps are shown below48.
In addition, a list, of unknown origin, found in a desk drawer in 1914, gave the following: A labels; Shelby, Shelby Tipless, Perfection, Shelbright, Useful Light; Anchor. B labels; Ray, Ray Tipless, Equality, Equality Tipless, Satisfaction, Equalight, Ideal, Robertson, Mercury, McDonald & Dumond, Duke, Sunshine, Bluegrass, IECO, E.S. Co., S.E.L.Co.
The Chaillet lamp with the "mushroom-shaped" bulb (U. S. Patent No. 701,295) apparently carried the "Useful Light" label during the later years of manufacture38.
As of May 4, 1914 the following labels were used on lamps. From right to left the labels were used on carbon, GEM, miniature MAZDA, and large MAZDA lamps.
The color schemes on the labels were: black letters on cream background and white letters on red background.
In the year 1915 the use of paper labels began to decline and bulb etching became more commonplace. In that year a lamp bulb that had no design etched on the glass bore two labels: a Sales Division label and a rating label—placed diametrically opposite one another on the bulb so that the etched design (National Mazda/GE) was halfway between the labels. The labels were attached so that they read horizontally and right side up when the lamp was held tip down. An effort was started in mid 1924 to eliminate sales division labels from the lamps.
In April, 1922 there existed eleven sales offices in the National Lamp Works of the General Electric Company, with one being the Shelby Lamp Division40. There were various working factories in twelve different cities in the United States. In Ohio factories were located in Youngstown, Warren, Niles and Cleveland. In Cleveland alone there were twelve factories. Other factories were in St. Louis, Minneapolis, Oakland, Central Falls, Chicago, Buffalo, Bridgeville and Providence.
In July, 1925 eighteen Divisions existed and Shelby labels were authorized for use in four of them: Empire, Pacific, Southern and Southwestern. These labels could be used in different Divisions because of the goodwill they had generated.
A trade-mark used by the Shelby Electric Company follows, along with the date of registration. This occurred after the act of February 20, 1905, which required that a label carry the notation, "Reg. U. S. Pat. Ofc. (date)." The trade mark was: "Shelbright"—The word in antique type, the letter S being capital. Registered February 12, 1907. This trade-mark32 was used continuously in the business since about June, 1904.
It should be pointed out that patent coverage of some of these ideas did not materialize. Patents might have been applied for but were never granted. John C. Fish was granted one lamp-related patent15 (U. S. 598,726 for a lamp) and A. A. Chaillet was granted two19, 26 (U. S. 625,321 for a socket and U. S. 701,295 for a lamp). No other patents were found for the years 1896-1922 in which the assignee was the Shelby Electric Company.
The National Electric Lamp Company
In the year 1900 the incandescent lamp industry was in a state of discord. The courts were filled with lawsuits that dealt with patent infringements, and bitter competition had driven lamp prices below actual manufacturing costs. Because of that situation lamp quality became inferior and, therefore, totally unacceptable. The small manufacturers also were not able to compete with the giant in the field, the General Electric Company, as it had the resources to do fundamental research and development work—resources the small manufacturer did not have. The eventual return to quality products was due in large measure to the ideals and success of the National Electric Lamp Company—a consortium of lamp manufacturers.
The formation of National took some time to accomplish. Starting in the year 1884 Franklin Silas Terry managed the Chicago office of the Electrical Supply Company, which had its home base in Ansonia, Conneticut46. A former engineer from the Sawyer-Man company, a manufacturer of electric incandescent lamps, suggested to Terry that he should begin to manufacture lamps as he believed it to be a good business opportunity. As a result of that suggestion Terry formed the Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company in Chicago in 1889.
In Fostoria, Ohio, a group of men were engaged in several businesses. John Bernard Crouse (1842-1921) and his brother-in-law, Henry Abner Tremaine (1852-1938), had started making incandescent lamps in 1897 under the name "Fostoria." Crouse then brought his son, J. Robert (1874-1946), into the business. Another important person, who had been in the insurance business in Cleveland, was also brought on board. He was Henry Tremaine's cousin, Burton Gad Tremaine (1863-1948). The founding fathers of National Electric Lamp Company were in place; it was only necessary to bring all five individuals together.
At the end of the 1890s Franklin Terry (1862-1926) casually suggested consolidation of the small lamp companies so that all could benefit, by means of common laboratory facilities. That suggestion was made when he met with his competitors during business travels. At a dinner meeting in 1901 he sat next to Burton Tremaine and again made the suggestion. That meeting of the two men, and Terry's suggestion, probably was the catalyst that was needed to get the ball rolling. It turned out that Charles A. Coffin, the head of the General Electric Company, had suggested that the Fostoria Company combine with GE. Coffin knew H. A. Tremaine and J. B. Crouse because he (Coffin) was a stockholder in the National Carbon Company—a firm founded by Crouse and Tremaine. The suggestions were not acted on until the right circumstances existed. That happened at the jobber's dinner in Chicago in 1901 when B. G. Tremaine sat next to F. S. Terry and Terry again made the suggestion.
The idea had germinated long enough. The five men founded National—with the help of the General Electric Company! GE agreed to put up about 75% of the needed capital and remain as a silent partner. That is, the companies that were eventually purchased were not aware of GE's involvement. GE had the option to obtain the other 25% of the stock. It was an unusual arrangement. At the insistence of Terry and Burton Tremaine, there was to be no person from General Electric involved in the running of National.
The unusual consolidation allowed National to set up laboratories so that all companies that joined the consolidation were free to use the results generated through testing. The individual companies could not afford such facilities. Thus, all companies could receive laboratory results but still remain competitors of the other companies. The idea behind this bold move was simply to compete on the basis of quality. In effect there was not to be any management interference from the National managers, Terry and Tremaine. However, help was extended if the individual companies asked for it. From the standpoint of the small companies, they had the best of all worlds. They continued to operate as though they were independent but they could benefit from the laboratories at the National headquarters in Cleveland. The plan worked—lamp quality eventually reached high levels. In addition, the member companies of National became formidable "competitors" of the General Electric Company. When National was formed, the lamp output from all companies amounted to about 20% of the total lamp production—with General Electric accounting for 80%. However, the ratio was about 50-50 by 1910.
The National organization did not engage in commerce. It had for its objective the advancement of the art of incandescent lamp manufacture and the development of the science and art of illumination.
In the year 1901 eight companies joined the National fold, led by Sunbeam and Fostoria. In 1902 six more became member companies. In 1903 John Fish of the Shelby Electric Company became interested in joining. In Terry's own words35, 46:
"In the summer of 1903, Mr. J. C. Fish, manager of the Shelby Electric Company, Shelby, Ohio, came to Cleveland several times for interviews with us, and desired to sell out the Shelby Company. We told him that we did not want to buy, and he spoke about the greater loss to us in a fight than the cost of his company. We replied that we had no thought of fighting him; there was no necessity of a fight; he replied: 'Oh yes, if you don't buy us there will be a fight alright. You have a lot of different companies that you can use against us, and we will be obliged to fight.' He was very anxious for us to come and look his factory over, and the day we did this he had a large table completely covered with printed matter, in envelopes stamped and addressed, and took occasion to show us that he had ready to send out a pamphlet, which he thought would be injurious to our interests. After a good many negotiations we decided it was better to take over the Shelby Company, which was done on December 1st 1903, payment cash $201,000 in deferred payments.The 1911 Federal Suit Against Incandescent Lamp Companies
"It is well to remember that it was a mighty difficult thing for us to raise the money to take over these different companies. Our business up to this time had not been very profitable, and the business of the different concerns we took over was not in any case profitable. In some cases, like in the purchase of the Warren companies, we were absolutely actually unable to meet our payments when they became due, and the General Electric Company would not furnish the cash, and we were obliged to get extensions of time..."
The Incandescent Lamp of Thomas Alva Edison, Jr.
Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. (1876-1935) was the son of Thomas Edison and his first wife, Mary (Stilwell). He, too, decided to go into the incandescent lamp business. He claimed to have an improved pump and filament. He opened offices in New York City and set out to manufacture his "Edison Junior Improved" incandescent lamp. An engraving of his lamp is shown to the left (Electrical Engineer, Vol XXIV, No 502, Dec 16, 1897, pg 590). This plan did not succeed but apparently he negotiated with the Shelby Electric Company and they agreed to manufacture it. This fact can be verified by looking at the text card of one of William J. Hammer's lamps at the Henry Ford Museum. Lamp No. 1899-102553 is that of Thomas Edison, Jr and it was manufactured by Shelby.
T. A. Edison, Jr. had a lamp exhibit that was announced in The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXV, No. 524, May 19, 1898, pg 557. The exhibit contained about 900 lamps: 4, 8, 10, 16, 32, and 50 c.p. lamps, plain, frosted, red, blue, amber, green, and opal, spherical, tubular and pear shape. It was claimed that his new 500-volt lamp was probably the only one in existence that was made with one continuous filament.
The following year he had another exhibit and it was displayed by "The Edison Jr. Electric Light & Power Co." (Electrical World and Engineer, Vol XXXIII, No 20, May 20, 1899, pg 669.) The exhibit had different sizes of primary batteries for general lighting.
Comments on Livermore's Centennial Light
A lamp of the later Chaillet design has received much press during the last 30 years or so because of its longevity51. It might be of some interest to comment on that extraordinary performance. Although an explanation of the long life exhibited by the lamp cannot be given with complete certainty, perhaps some understanding will result.
Let us summarize, according to the understanding of the writer, the details of this story. A lamp has been burning in a fire station in Livermore, California since 1901. The lamp was donated to the Fire Department in that year by Dennis Bernal, who owned the Livermore Power and Light Company. It is reported that the lamp consumes about four watts and has been burning continuously as a night light over fire trucks. Although it was turned off temporarily because of a relocation of the station, it has burned since 1901. Still images of the burning lamp can be viewed on the internet52. It is stated that the lamp has a carbide filament. The lamp has been declared the oldest known working light bulb by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Certain information, which is lacking in this story, would be beneficial in understanding the long life lamp. For example, the initial operating temperature would allow an approximate calculation of filament evaporation, which is the usual process by which a carbon filament failed. The writer does not believe the filament is composed of a carbide; he is not aware that Shelby Electric, or any other major manufacturer, ever used a carbide filament; it is herein assumed to be a carbon filament of unknown structure. Some carbide filaments (such as silicon carbide and titanium carbide) were tried about 1901 and tungsten had not surfaced as a filament material yet. As it regards carbon filaments, some basic understanding of them is important.
Although other materials could have been used, Edison employed bamboo as the first material in a commercial lamp. Extruded cellulose then came to be the common material used. All such materials had to be carbonized by heating. By the time the Chaillet lamp was introduced in 1897 the industry, in general, was using an extruded, or squirted, cellulose filament that was carbonized and then treated by heating in a hydrocarbon vapor. The final structure of carbon filaments, regardless of initial material, was porous. The filament had little more than a skeleton structure. Treatment in a hydrocarbon gas resulted in a smoothing of the surface and a reduction of inherent hot spots. Perhaps the best filament, from the standpoint of performance, was used in the so-called GEM (General Electric Metallized) lamp, introduced in 1905. That lamp could be operated at a temperature of about 1900 °C (2173 °K)41.
Without initial electrical and temperature measurements one cannot expect to be able to determine the present state of the filament because of the apparent blackening of the bulb and the uncertainty of material density and resistivity. If the lamp is actually operating at four watts it follows that the filament temperature is relatively low. One should be cautious to conclude, however, that the present filament temperature is so low that evaporation is not significant and therefore, the filament will burn forever. It probably is not known how such a lamp, with a carbon filament, would eventually fail if significant evaporation is not taking place. To make this point, failure of tungsten filament lamps operated at low filament temperatures might be mentioned. At normal operating temperatures (2600-3000 °K) tungsten filament lamps eventually fail due to evaporation. However, some miniature lamps, which operate at much lower temperatures (1900-2200 °K), can fail by a different mechanism. In that case tungsten atoms migrate on the filament surface with the formation of crystals, which results in the fracture of the wire43. Whether or not a similar process would occur in a carbon filament lamp remains to be seen.
Roughly speaking, the evaporation rate of carbon in vacuum is about 100 times higher than the rate of tungsten at the same temperature. Because of that fact tungsten can be operated at higher temperatures than carbon and therefore give off more light at a higher efficacy. As it regards the Centennial Light, if the filament temperature is low enough and all other normal weak points in the lamp are satisfactory (such as leakage of air, attachment of filament to lead wires, baked-out condition of lead wires and glass) then, with the avoidance of mechanical shock (from being hit), the lamp could burn for many more years. The extreme case, of course, is when the lamp is not lighted. One would assume that such a lamp should be operable after a 100-year rest. The question is: How low must the filament temperature be in order for the lamp to operate for 100 years?
First and foremost, I thank Mrs. Sally J. Maier and Mr. Kim Heuberger of The Shelby Museum of History, Shelby, Ohio, for their interest and courtesy shown during an off-hours visit to the Museum. Mr. Heuberger also reproduced the photograph, showing the Shelby factory personnel, for use by the writer. Early Shelby newspapers were viewed on film at the Marvin Memorial Library, Shelby, Ohio. A copy of the birth data of Catharine Chaillet was kindly supplied to the writer at the Richland County Vital Records Office in Mansfield, Ohio. Census data and county historical books were viewed at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. Patent and trade-mark information were obtained at the Cleveland Public Library and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio.
1) "A New Factory," The Shelby News (Shelby, Ohio), Aug 7, 1896.
2) "The Electric Company," The Shelby News, Aug 21, 1896.
3) Note, The Shelby News, Aug 28, 1896.
4) "The Shelby Electric Works," The Shelby News, Dec 18, 1896.
5) "The Shelby Electric Company," The Shelby News, Jan 22, 1897.
6) "The New Incandescent Lamp of the Shelby Electric Company," The Shelby News, Jan 29, 1897.
7) "The Shelby Incandescent Lamp," The Electrical World, Vol XXIX, No 6, Feb 6, 1897, pg 215.
8) "A Big Shelby Incandescent Lamp Deal Closed in the West," The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXIII, No 461, Mar 3, 1897, pg 254.
9) "Voltage, Amperes, Watts, Ohms, &c.," Joseph Hardwick, The Shelby News, Mar 12, 1897.
10) "On the Inconsistency of the Evolution Theory," A. A. Chaillet, The Shelby News, Mar 26, 1897.
11) "The Shelby Electric Co., 'Make the Best Incandescent Lamp in the World,' Interview With One of the Oldest Lamp Dealers in the United States Mr. William Wilson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin," The Shelby News, Apr 9, 1897.
12) "The Shelby Electric Company," The Shelby Republican, Industrial Edition, May 20, 1897.
13) "Shelby Electric Company," Western Electrician, Vol XX, No 24, Jun 12, 1897, pg 338.
14) "The Shelby Electric Co., The Personnel of the Company, The Portraits of the Management," The Shelby News, Jun 25, 1897.
15) "Incandescent Electric Lamp and Process of Making Same," J. C. Fish, U.S. Patent No. 598,726, Feb 8, 1898, Application filed Aug 3, 1897.
16) "The 220 Volt Lamp in Practice," J. C. Fish, The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXV, No 526, Jun 2, 1898, pg 604.
17) "Incandescent Lamps as Manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company, Shelby, O.," The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXVI, No 545, Oct 13, 1898, pg 358.
18) "Incandescent Lamps—A Detailed Description of Their Manufacture," American Electrician, Vol XI, No 5, May 1899, pg 241.
19) "Socket for Incandescent Lamps," A. A. Chaillet, U.S. Patent No. 625,321, May 23, 1899, Application filed Feb 28, 1898.
20) Birth of Catharine M. Chaillet, Dec 28, 1899, Richland County Vital Records Office, Probate Court, 50 Park Ave., East, Mansfield, Oh, Vol 3, pg 54.
21) Birth Announcement, The Shelby News, Jan 5, 1900, pg 5, col 1.
22) 1900 Soundex, Chaillet=C430; 1900 Census, Vol 130, E. D.=136, Sheet 14, Line 96.
23) 1900 Soundex, Fish=F200.
24) "Gain in Effective Illumination from Incandescent Lamps," American Electrician, Vol XII, No 7, Jul 1900, pg 362.
25) "Globe Works," The Shelby News, Feb 28, 1902.
26) "Incandescent Electric Lamp," A. A. Chaillet, U. S. Patent No 701,295, Jun 3, 1902, Application filed Oct 22, 1900.
27) Improved Incandescent Electric Lamp, Electrical Review, Vol 41, No 4, Jul 26, 1902, pg 119.
28) "Shelby Elec. Co., Holds Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Directors," The Daily Globe, Aug 29, 1902.
29) "Photometer Attachment," Electrical World and Engineer, Vol XLI, No 16, Apr 18, 1903, pg 670.
30) Obituary, "W.W. Skiles," American Electrician, Vol XVI, No 2, Feb 1904, pg 110.
31) Trade-Mark No. 59975, "Equality", Registered Jan 22, 1907.
32) Trade-Mark No. 60,569, Shelbright", Registered Feb 12, 1907.
33) History of Richland County, Ohio, from 1808 to 1908, Vol 2, A. J. Baughman, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1908, pg 1163.
34) "Burial of the Late John C. Fish...," The Daily Globe, Apr 20, 1909.
35) History of the National Electric Lamp Company and Its Subsidiary Companies, F. S. Terry, Nov 28, 1910.
36) "Federal Suit Against Incandescent Lamp Companies," Electrical World, Vol 57, No 10, Mar 9, 1911, pg 594.
37) Final Decree, United States Circuit Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, "United States of America vs. General Electric Company et al," Entered October 12, 1911.
38) Catalog of Shelby Lamps, Published by The Shelby Electric Co., Shelby, Ohio, U.S.A., ca 1910-1911.
39) What's What in Shelby, Ohio—The Biggest Little City in the United States, 1921.
40) "How the National Lamp Works of General Electric Company is Organized,"The National-ite, Apr 1922, pg 8.
41) The History of the Incandescent Lamp, John W. Howell and Henry Schroeder, The Maqua Company, Publishers, Schenectady, NY, 1927.
42) A History of Nela Park, 1911-1957, Hollis L. Townsend, General Electric Co., 1957.
43) "The Life-Voltage Exponent for Tungsten Lamps," E. J. Covington, Journal of IES, Vol 2, Jan 1973, pg 83.
44) Richland Co., Ohio Cemetery Records, The Richland Co. Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, 1981.
45) "Ohio—a Giant in Electric Lamp History," Country Living, Feb 1989.
46) Franklin Silas Terry, 1862-1926, Industrialist—Paragon of Organization, Harmony and Generosity, Edward J. Covington, 1994.
47) Makers of National—The Spirit and People of an Industrial Organization, Edward J. Covington, 1997.
48) The Electric Incandescent Lamp, 1880-1925, Edward J. Covington, 1998.
49) Incandescent Lamp Manufacturers in Cleveland, 1884-1905, Edward J. Covington, 1999.
50) Website. The American Family Immigration History Center. http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/sign/index.asp. (Surname = Chaillet. No first name initial).
51) Website. http://www.centennialbulb.org/facts.htm
52) Website. http://www.centennialbulb.org/ then click "video".
53) Website. http://www.frognet.net/~ejcov/hammer.html