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Learning Tools And Research Material

User Forums

Post pictures of your items and ask questions or just learn from reading the posts from others

Ad Database
View or upload ads from antique magazines
Bulb & Socket Bases
View images of the most well known bulb and socket bases

Patent Utilities
Patent Linker
Lets You Pull Up Any Patent PDF File Or Link One Directly To Your Web Page
Group Patent Dbase
Lets You Download The First Page Patent Picture Of Every Patent On A Single Day To View On Quickly Your Local Computer
MultiView Search
Lets You Search For Patents Using Advanced Methods And Provides Hyper Links To The Patent Office And Google Patents

I have not had much time to get many items in the forsale area below. Please keep checking back as I will start adding more items soon.

Items For Sale

Cord Balls & Adjusters
NEW - My cord pendant adjuster project, as well as a good history about them.

Switch Material

Electrical Code
Mica Insulation
CP or WATTS Marks
Socket Bead/Rib/UNO
Catalogs & Ads
Pull Chains / Finials
Socket & Electrical Manufacturer's Items And Their History
GECO Sockets
NEW - This section will allow you to date and learn how to tell one GECO socket from the other.

This is where this site started from. Since this page was done, there has been much more Hubbell history and information found which will make for a complete redesign of this page and section in the soon future.
Hubbell Patents
This section has some early patent research on Hubbell. It is mostly complete with only a few missing patents which will be added in when this section is re done into the new format
Wheeler Reflector Co.
NEW - A history of The Wheeler Reflector Company and tips on how to tell if mirror has been replaced on a shade
Other Manufacturers

This section is a lot of incomplete work and will be updated shortly. For now it serves to give you some extended information on some companies, but will be a much better tool when it is complete
This section is everything you ever wanted to know about the National Electrical Code (NEC) but had no one to ask. Downloads of old NEC's, meetings and much extended information is provided.
GECO Sockets

More companies will be added to this list in the near future. We will also be adding a new list of post 1900 sockets and items.

Bergmann & Co.

Brush Electric Co.
Bryant Electric Co.
Crown Elect MFG Co.
Holmes & Gale (HG)
Tutorial And Early Lighting History

The Lighting Time Table

To read the entire tutorial, you can just click on the first link and then continue to the next section at the bottom of each page. Or, you can select links below of interest to you.


Overcoming Obstacles

About Early Electric Lighting, Generators, Arc Lamps, The First Edison Socket, Menlo Park, etc.
The First Fixtures
About The Start Of The First Incandescent Lighting Fixtures
Light Reflection
About Early Light Bulbs And Candle Power vs. WATTS
About Sigmund Bergmann And The Start Of Bergmann And Company Lighting Fixtures
Lighting Break Down
A Quick Break Down Of Different Lighting Time Periods
Styles 1881 to 1884
Bergmann Fixtures And Styles
Other Pre-1888 Styles
About Early Companies That Sold Lighting Systems And The Fixtures That They Sold With Their Lighting Systems
The U.S. Elect. Co.
The United States Electric Company History And Early Items
The Brush Elect. Co.
The Brush Electric Company History And Early Items
The Thomson-Houston Electric Company History And Early Items
About The Westinghouse Manufacturing Company History And Early Mergers
Mid 1880's Styles
About The Start Of Electrical Supply Houses and how new lighting styles came about
Pre 1900 Sockets
About Early Light Sockets And How To Tell The Difference
1887 New Items
1888 New Items
1890 New Items
1891 New Items
1892 New Items
1893 New Items
1894-1896 Items
1897 New Items
1898 New Items
1899 New Items
Above are catalog items sold in different years. There is no space to duplicate items, so only new and unique items from each year are shown. You would need to view the catalogs for yourself to be complete as I am only highlighting items. You can view catalogs here.

Victor Shade Holder
About The Victor Shade Holder, Atwood And The Standard Holder

I.P. Frink 1899 Items
About Frink & Wheeler
New Wheeler Inverted
Three Links About Mirror Reflector Manufacturers And Their Items And History.
Wheeler Reflector Co.
NEW - A history of The Wheeler Reflector Company and tips on how to tell if mirror has been replaced on a shade

Early Desk Lamps

Some Help In Telling Them Apart

Vitrite And Luminoid

About The Vitrite Holders And Early Vitrite History

Brush-Swan Holder

About Brush-Swan Shade Holders

Cord Balls
My cord pendant adjuster project, as well as a good history about them.


About 1900 Styles
This section covers a basic into into the 1900 section covering information about the 1899 transition, electrical code changes, lighting influence, sharing and licensing of patents and then into the new section of electrical specialty manufacturers,

Electrical Specialty Manufacturers
Harvey Hubbell
This section covers some early history periods of pre Hubbell-Grier, Hubbell-Grier, Harvey Hubbell, Hubbell Company. It also covers a number of items that helped change lighting styles,

This section covers some early history periods for the Benjamin Electric MFG. Co, as well as a small section on Dale and The Federal Electric Company

Federal Electric

This post 1900 section continues to be under current construction

Please Check Back.

The Lighting Time Table
A Walk Through History & A Display Of Rare Antique Lighting

Electric methods of lighting can can go as far back as 1859 when Moses Farmer lighted up the living room of his home in Salem Massachusetts, using electric lamps made of small pieces of platinum and iridium wire operating in open air. There were many other attempts to make incandescent lights and light bulbs through these early years (pre-1879), but most inventors went down the road of inventing electric ARC lighting. Arc lighting was basically two carbon rods that when brought to the right distance from each other, would create an electrical bolt or jump across the air from one to the other. While this brilliant bright light was a good method for lighting streets, it would be far to bright for indoor lighting. Pictured on the right is a Wallace-Farmer Arc Light from 1878 that used two slabs of carbon between which a bright light would Arc. (To see the Farmer Dynamo click here and then on your back button).

Please keep in mind that even though these experiments in Arc and Incandescent lighting had been going on for years, there were other inventions taking place that needed to be perfected before lighting could ever be considered for the public.

These other inventions were sources of power, such as Dynamo electric motors to generate the electricity.
There had also been early inventions and testing for many years along the line of magnetism and methods of making electricity.

It was not until these inventions were perfected, that electric lighting could be offered publicly.

It was Charles Brush that took on this task and helped solve the major problems before Arc lighting could be publicly offered. More on Brush...

In 1876 Charles Brush designed his first Dynamo which would power a single Arc Light which was granted a patent in April 1877. Also in 1876 two types of Dynamos are exhibited, (Philadelphia Centennial Expo) each able to light one single Arc Light. These were the Gramme and the Wallace generators.

In 1877
hard drawn copper wire was invented and started being used in transmitting electricity in the place of early iron wire. Also in 1877 Charles Brush starts designing the first successful electric street lighting system in the United States. This was an electrical Arc Light system that could be sold to the public. (Single light generator and lamp) He is granted a patent in October (patent number 196,425). Also in 1877 Weston gives the first public exhibition of Arc Lighting in the United States by installing a corner street light in Newark NJ. Also in 1877 the first electric Arc Lights used in a store were installed on December 26th in the John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia. He was using the new Brush System and it consisted of five Dynamos giving power to four Arc Lights each for a total of twenty lights.

For more Brush Arc lights click here and then on the back button of your browser.

On May 7th 1878 Brush is granted patent no 203,411 for the first series Arc Light. Also in 1878 Weston makes progress in feeding current from one Dynamo into a second Dynamo for industrial purposes.

On July 4th 1879 Niagara Falls is lighted by electric for the first time.
This was by using a 16 light Brush Dynamo arc Lights using a water wheel to turn the generator.

Also in 1879 Edison develops a Dynamo with 3 1/2 foot magnets which was the basis of three later generators rated at 60, 150 and 250 lights.

On April 29th 1879, Brush is the first to light an entire street in the United States using electric lighting which consisted of 12 Arc Lights in the Public Square of Cleveland, by use of his new constant-current series generator.

While all of these new inventions in generating electricity was taking place and looking forward to the future of Incandescent electric lighting, The Edison Electric Light Company is organized by J. P. Morgan and other Edison financiers to finance Edison's experiments on October 15th 1878.

Now that many of the major problems had been solved in generating electricity, it was a prime time for inventors to press forward into a new era of electric lighting.

By November 4th 1879, Edison applied for his first incandescent lamp patent which was a filament of a platinum wire spiral in a vacuum chamber. (Edison was the first to use the word filament which later helped during court cases) Different filaments tried during experiments were (among others) cotton threads, flax, jute silks, cords, manila hemp, different hard woods, Chinese and Italian raw silk, horse hair, fish line, teak, spruce, boxwood, vulcanized rubber, cork, celluloid, grass fibers from everywhere, linen twine, tar paper, wrapping paper, cardboard, tissue paper, parchment, holly wood, absorbent cotton, rattan, California redwood, raw jute fiber, corn silk, new Zealand flax, hair from the beards of some of the men in the laboratory (with contests on who's would burn longer). The final selection for a filament was a special cotton thread made at the Clark Thread Mills in Newark. This thread was carbonized and then connected to copper wires that had short pieces of platinum twisted onto them. Shown to your right are some early mountings of experimental filaments. To view a larger picture, click here (or on the picture) and then the back button on your browser. Edison's first carbonized cotton filaments only burned for forty hours. In his next experiment, he carbonized Bristol board and it burned for several hundred hours.

December 31st 1879 Thomas Edison put together the first public demonstration of incandescent lighting.

Because this display attracted so much attention, the Pennsylvania Railroad ran special trains directly to Menlo Park, New Jersey. Many people that were unbelievers in electric lighting now saw the reality. It was from this point on, that investors, inventors and manufacturers all started moving towards the real future of electric lighting.

The socket pictured to your left was the first 1879 type socket that Edison made and is what was used at this demonstration. The bulb was baseless meaning that it did not screw into the socket. The bulb pushed into the wood socket which had two thin metal tabs inside of it. The bulb and had two wire Leeds that came out of the base which were then pushed under thin metal tabs (like those inside of the socket) which were tied using thread around the bulb base to hold them in place. These tabs then made contact inside of the socket when it was pushed down into it. The main electrical wires connected to the side screws on the socket that are shown in the picture above. The socket to your left is shown from the Allerhand collection. Click here to see more pictures and then click on the back button on your browser.

Within a short time Edison updated this socket by removing the two screws and bringing the electrical wires through a hole on the top of the cap like we are use to seeing today.

This new 1880 socket style is still considered a "Number 1" Edison socket by collectors today because of the short time span, but more correctly named an "Edison Number 1b" socket.
The picture to your right was taken from an article in Scientific American January 10th 1880 only 10 days after the demonstration. This issue shows three pictures and uses of the socket and all with the wires coming through the cap and the screw terminals removed. Keeping in mind that in those days people did not know the dangers of electricity and the fact about getting shocks, that during the demonstration many people or even children may had touched the terminals. In the January 2 1880 issue of the Herald "Notices not to touch or handle apparatus were disregarded". It is also stated that on the second day, hundreds of people piled in at a time and no room for the people working the demonstration to even work their way through the crowds. Items were broken and even bulbs stolen. After the first demonstration (which went well) more of the riffraff or people with no regard to learning or science came in. Not to make a doctrine out of this, as it is simple my personal deduction. Also keeping in mind that many skeptics came, those from gas companies, etc. and asked rather pointed direct public questions to Edison to try and disprove the economics, expense, and "what ifs" of electric lighting, for which it was said that he had a quick answer for every question making believers out of everyone. However, If ever there would be a time to notice that the wires should not be exposed, this demonstration would had been it. This must had been a large issue for Edison, for the change in design to be done within a week. As far as I know, there is no evidence of a number 1b socket existing prior to 1880. The issued patent picture shows a number 1a and every picture I have examined to do with the demonstration used a number 1a with the wire terminals on the outside.

In July of 2007 the Edison Number 1b socket shown on your left was reported being sold for $50,000 by a collector in Ohio.

While I can not confirm this private sale to be 100% true in fact as far as exactly how much money actually changed hands, the report was that the socket was sold to a patent attorney. If you know this person, please have him contact us so as to help set a 'realized' price for this type of item. These sockets are rarely found in the best collections, much less coming up for sale.

The only other Edison Number 1 socket (that I know to exist) other then these shown (and one other), is the one shown on your right which is found at the Sparks Museum in their lighting section.

Within a short time after Edison's demonstration, inventors and companies such as Stanley, Brush, Westinghouse, Bergmann, Thomson-Houston, Perkins, U.S. Electric Co. And many others started inventing incandescent lights, sockets, switches and many other electrical parts.


The fixtures used in 1879 were simply gas fixtures with electric sockets attached to them and were the type used at the Edison Menlo Park demonstration on New Years Eve. The picture shown below is one of two Mitchell Vance Company four arm gas fixtures that were hanging in Edison's home at Menlo Park. Edison converted them for the demonstration.

There was only one fixture at this demonstration that was made for electricity which was a wooden lamp base made by Sigmund Bergmann for Edison at his request.

Edison wanted to show the public that any material could be used together with his new invention.

While the demonstration at Menlo Park shook the public and opened many eyes, it was still several years before the general public was offered electricity and electrical incandescent lighting items.

In the first years after, electrical "Systems" were sold. These were for the rich, big business or the technically inclined. A system consisted of a personal generator (Dynamo), cutout(s), and lamps, sockets, fixtures, etc.

Before incandescent lighting could be brought to the general public, power stations needed to be designed and built, standards needed to be set, and big business needed to put their money into the many different ventures. Gas companies stood to loose the most from these new inventions, and fought electric lighting at every possible junction. Much disinformation was spread during these early years, but electrical investors and inventors pressed ever forward. While there were many socket, bulb and electrical parts inventions and improvements during the first four years, it was not until about 1884/1885 that electrical lighting started its first stage of leaping forward. It seems that by every five years, noticeable large changes took place that made the difference and brought us closer to our electrical era. 1885-1890 was the prime time for manufacturers to invent and produce electrical parts such as sockets, cut-outs, bulbs, switches, rosettes, and many other miscellaneous parts which we did not see in the earlier years. Edison merges his Edison Lamp Company, Edison Machine Works, Bergmann & Company and the Edison Electric Light Company into one entity called Edison General Electric.

1890-1895 the change from materials such as Vulcanized Fiber to Porcelain and more distributors and manufacturers coming on the scene with thoughts of mass production such as Bryant, Sawyer-Man (Westinghouse), EE&S, Edison General Electric is formed by a merge of Edison General Electric, Thomson-Houston and others, into one entity General Electric Co., The list goes on... 1896-1900 the National Electric Code is adopted, new standards take place, more and more inventions. The point of all of this, is that with each leap, more and more people and more and more cities pile onto the band wagon to take part in this ever growing and changing industry. During these years, products were invented and made such as fixtures which entailed many different types of jobs along the lines of casting brass, bronze, copper, etc., shades which entailed glass blowing, silk work, tin, steel and many other forms of manufacturing for other type shades such as reflectors. While I could go on, I will stop for space and time, but I think you get the idea, jobs opened for many different people, wiring specialists, etc., etc.

Please notice that the fixtures shown in this section are gas fixtures from the gas valves.

Please also notice that these are Edison Number 1a sockets with the wire terminals on the out side of the sockets.


Before I get into how lighting styles and fixtures progressed, I think that you need to understand the history and culture at the time.

Remember, your Great - Great - Great - Grand Parents were use to only a few different styles of lighting.

When new designs come out, they can't look that different from what people are use to seeing.
Styles change over time.

Early lighting during this time, mostly took on the form of candles/lard (wicks), gas flame and kerosene lighting. While I am no expert in any of these forms of lighting, it is known that each took on its own style and each style appealed to different people.

When incandescent lighting first came on to the scene, it had a sort of its own attraction which was the burning filament inside of the lamp. People liked to see this, just as those that would watch the flame shine through a clear glass globe in a kerosene lamp.

This is much different then our days - We are use to bright 100 WATT bulbs that you can't even look at without hurting your eyes. We cover these bulbs with frosted or white finishes, we hide these bulbs under shades that also help to hide the bulb so that we are not directly looking into it. Or better yet, we use a florescent bulb that is easier on the eyes.

When bulbs were first made, they came standard a 8 and 16 C.P. (Candle power). This is also what was on display at Menlo Park with Edison's first demonstration according to Francis Jehl who was there and worked along side of Edison in the early days.

In these early days and until multi-filament, zigzag filaments and Mazda tungsten filament bulbs were invented (which were much brighter), many fixtures and shades used reflecting methods to increase and direct the light of the bulb to help increase the "Candle Power". The picture on your right shows a lamp from 1882/83 that uses a flat shade with corrugated mirror glass (made from mercury in those days) to help reflect or increase the light that this bulb was capable of giving out. (I should point out that a rare lamp like this with the original socket and an original bulb with an intact filament would sell in a collectors market for over seven thousand dollars, depending on the bidders, it could go much higher).

Today (and after 1910) we rate bulbs in WATTS.

In the old days Candle Power told the brightness of the bulb, in other words the "Light Intensity" (which was measured with a photometer). WATTS only describes the power consumption and has nothing to do in accuracy with the brightness or intensity You could have two 100 WATT bulbs and measure them with a photometer and get totally different readings. One is efficient and one is not. While it is true that if you use more power (WATTS) the bulb will be brighter, WATTS really say nothing about how bright the bulb is or how much light it is giving out. You would need to rate it in Candle Power for this.

There is no way to convert Candle Power to WATTS. The manufacturer would have had to calculate both WATTS and Candle Power for us to know the true ratings. Different light sources could have the same WATT ratings, but vastly different Candle Power output. Unfortunately, they are not directly related. For example, try searching Amazon.com or a sales site that provides good descriptions for items. You can find two different 12,000 candlepower flashlights and one would be listed as 3 watt and another as 1 watt.

There is also another factor that you should be aware of, and that is that these early carbon filament bulbs would loose more then half of their rated candle power long before their life limit was reached. Many times this also came along with a blackening of the bulb glass.

For those that wish to display or use this type of antique lighting, there are a few different suggestions that I would make. Firstly; depending on the type of application, using reproduction antique bulbs. Please note that these are for display only as the filament in most reproduction bulbs only glows orange. You need to look, some are brighter, but the glowing bulbs are great for display of most fixtures being used for decorative or display applications and not as a primary source of light. Secondly, is to locate antique 220 volt bulbs. These used hooked up to 115 volts give about the same nice glow and look great for display. I have found many of these on eBay for less cost then reproduction bulbs. Lastly, use real antique or reproduction 40, 50, 75 WATT, or regular bulbs from the store along with a dimmer. This way you can adjust the light to the perfect setting every time. I have several 1000 WATT dimmer circuits here where I control my many different fixtures. Normally, I can hook from 10 to 15 lamps on each circuit. I should also note that ACE Hardware sells a light bulb saver called THE BUTTON which is put out by Lemra Products which can reduce the power and brightness of a bulb thus saving it's life by about 10 times its normal life. This is a simple button that sticks to the bottom of the bulb as it is screwed into the socket base.


The first professional electric fixtures were made by Bergmann & Company.
Sigmund Bergmann was a long time friend that worked for Edison in 1870 and later went into business for himself. Edison also rented space in Bergmann's building in New York and kept a laboratory there. Edison also owned a share in Bergmann's business.

While Edison converted gas lamps for his first demonstration of electric lighting, there was one fixture at the display that was made for electric. This fixture was made out of wood and was designed and made by Sigmund Bergmann for Edison's display. Francis Jehl stated that Edison wanted to show that any material could be used in electric lighting for the display. There is no know picture of this fixture. To see a picture of Edison and Bergmann together, click here and then on the back button on your browser. To see an picture of Bergmann from the early days you can click here.

Edison made an exclusive agreement with Bergmann allowing him to make fixtures. Sockets however were still made by Edison at his laboratory in these early days, but later a three way partnership was formed (September 1882) which brought another close associate (Edward Johnson) into the new business.

This new "Bergmann & Co." Produced fixtures, sockets, connectors, and other assorted small devices for the Edison system.

Consistent with the personal trust at the center of the relationship, the new partnership was not to be legally formalized for another year. To see a larger picture of the Bergmann & Co. Building, click here.

By early 1883 the first show room in the United States for electric fixtures was open to the public. This show room featured not only electric fixtures, but combination gas and electric fixtures as well.

It was this showroom and the fixtures and parts made by Bergmann & Co. That grandfathered the great electrical fixture awakening that was to come. While it is true that many new designs came from other inventors through the years to come, and the fact that many old styles of gas and other lighting were followed, it was this company that was on the forefront of it all. To see the 300 DPI picture of the showroom click here and then the back button on your browser.

Did you know that Bergmann & Co. Was the first EVER to patent a shade holder that attached on to the socket shell? Patent Number 293,552 Applied for October 9th, 1882


On this site, I break fixtures up into three different categories.

Early PRE 1890
The early pre-1890 fixtures and parts are extremely rare and are in a time line of their own.
Materials used to manufacture them normally use wood or fiber insides and more ornate cast brass on the outside being used for socket turn keys, fixtures and fixture parts.

1890 to 1899
This was the start of the "Catalog" or "Electrical Distributor" era which was the beginning of the BOOM in electrical lighting inventions that started in 1900. From 1890 to 1900 large distributors of gas and other household items turned to electrical items. New electrical supply distributors also came on the scene looking for new inventions and designs to be added to their catalogs. This opened the job market for individuals to become independent or opened doors to start their own companies. These items (while some still quite rare) use porcelain insides in place of fiber, turn keys start being made more commonly of different hard rubbers.

After 1900
The BOOM takes place. MANY more Electrical Distributors come life and the blooming for Electrical Specialties businesses takes place. One of the largest electrical parts companies today "Hubbell Inc." started in 1901 with their 12 page catalog mixed up of only a few parts configured in different views. In other words they offered their socket, socket on cluster, cluster alone, socket on base, pull chain for socket and chain coupling device. This could had been a three page catalog. I am not putting down Hubbell in any way - I am simply pointing out how one company could grow from such a small company into one of the largest in the world today. Hubbell started with the specialty item of a pull socket, then a separable plug and then on to many more awesome inventions. There were many more electrical specialty companies that bloomed during this time such as P&S, Arrow, Bryant, Marshall, Benjamin, Federal Electric as well as too many more to mention here without stopping and saying "and more", so I will just stop now.

There were so many changes after 1900, that we could create 10 or more splits in time lines between 1900 and 1921, which would not only be just too much work for me, but, would make for too much info of little value. For this reason, I will only highlight on some companies and items during this time frame.


I should note that the fixtures shown below are only meant to show some of the early styles and are not intended to be complete in any way. The Edison-Bergmann product line can be seen in the Bergmann catalog as well as the Edison General Electric catalogs in our catalog section on this site.

These plain designs started with an electric swivel (the squared design) that Bergmann made for Edison's display at the Paris Exposition in 1881. The joint for the swivel and basic concept was taken from an early gas fixture that had an electric igniter. This patent (Sept. 24, 1878 No. 208,389) by Charles Gibson also of New York, is shown in the 1883 Bergmann catalog for these fixtures. The only part of the patent that was used in this swivel, was for the joint. The electrical contacts, insulated wood plate and body design were all Bergmann's unique design. The later Ornamental swivel designs shown below in the Ornate Section, used a different contact method then this earlier design. Click here to look inside of the keyless version; Or click here to see the inside contacts of the later ornate keyless fixture.

Later, in 1884, a switch was added to this bracket design which now gave the consumer a choice of having a bracket with a keyless socket and switch on the bracket itself, or to have the key on the socket and a plain bracket. Click here to look inside of the key version; Or click here to see the fixture using a key version.

These fixtures were all offered in many different configurations to choose from. Examples of choices would be the number of lights, the number of arms, size, etc. It was all multiple choice as shown below:

Even the most plain of these fixtures share an AWESOME beauty that you need to see to believe.

The choices in finish on most items were Bronzed, Polished Brass or Gold Bronze. Other finishes were also offered such as "Beaten Brass Pinks, Blue Plush, Colors and Gilt, Plain Bronze, Extra Ornate, Cut Extra Ornate", etc., etc.

When you count up all of the beauty and rarity there is nothing that compares to any of these pre 1890 fixtures.

We are not comparing or talking about a normal brass fixture, like the ones that you would find on eBay that over the years tarnished or lost its finish. Or the run of the mill brass or copper electric pendant from the 1920,s. We are talking about quality items that in most cases were only found in the most elegant of homes, offices or exclusive down town stores.

When you put it all together; The original sockets with Vulcanized Fiber Interiors, original finish, original parts, original hand blown glass shades, etc., There is nothing that can match the awesome look and feel to this REAL ANTIQUE. Many of these items are one of a kind (unless found at the same source) and rarely even come up even at the most exclusive auctions (unless a mansion is being liquidated).

Below is a close up of the finish on a Bergmann double swing arm bracket. Notice the Red Vulcanized Fiber half washers used on the joints. The swivels are stamped with the patent date April 22 1884 which is a Bergmann patent that was applied for December 12, 1883 (pat no. 297269) and assigned to Bergmann & Co.

I show this close up picture so that you can get a feel for the finish and better see what you are really looking at in these black and white images that you are seeing on this page. I wish that I had many real examples to show you, but unfortunately they are just too rare to come by. The catalog pictures should help you get an idea of the styles and what to look out for.

The fun of collecting is even greater for a few reasons; Firstly the public awareness is not at the place yet to know what these type of items are. "It is a nice ornate fixture" ... "it is circa late 1800's"... "Do I hear $350.00? (no answer) ...$300.00? So, if you study these styles you can still pick up some real deals. A good example would be a pair of 1882 Bergmann key sockets that I purchased on the collectors market not long ago for $1500.00. Though these are really rare, I also found one on eBay not long ago and won it for $60.00. Bergmann Acorn sockets that I have paid from $350.00 to $450.00 for on the collectors market, I have found from $30.00 to $60.00 elsewhere from those that were not aware of their value (salvage stores are great for picking up items like this).

Education on these types of items is hard to come by. At present, there is a small circle of collectors and dealers out there that know their stuff (and a few that think they do). When I use the term "know their stuff", I am speaking of people that see something, know what it is and buy it at almost any cost because they know that they will likely rarely (or never) see another one again. While sometimes an item can cost them several thousand dollars, most times it ends up only costing only hundreds.

I am a rebel when it comes to teaching (the reason for this site) and feel that everyone should have the opportunity to learn (if that is their desire). BUT... to learn, there needs to be something to read and there is not much out there. I have had to go to EXTREMES and put out uncountable dollars to learn what I have, and am told to shut up at every turn. The Motto is ... "Do Not Educate The Public". By the time that I am done with this site, people will be able to tell if their lamp is not all original; they will know (or have a good idea) what their items are worth; they will know who and what to watch out for, etc., etc.

Secondly; When you find an item (such as one of these shown here), you are not getting a Handel Parrot shade that hundreds of other people also own. You are not getting the Tiffany Piano Lamp that almost every Tiffany collector has three of - You are getting a piece that is a true EXTREMELY RARE antique that has a beauty all of its own with a real history behind it. I am not putting down Handel or Tiffany, those items will be covered on this site when I get to those dates, but for now, we are learning about 1880's items and the unique 'rarity' of them.

Lastly; These items are a great investment. There are sill many items out there to be found at good (or in some cases give away) prices. I have been watching the trends, as more people start collecting - more people buy, and soon common items that come up now, will rarely come up for sale at all much less the prices that you can presently get them for. Also because some of these items are so rare, you can just about name your own price on them (within reason) even now.

I have a friend that purchased a (Frink) 4 foot dual cone reflector like the one above for $100.00 at Brimfield with its original sockets and intact glass. If I owned it, I would be asking 8,000.00 for it, which is probably still to cheap. (If it was a Bergmann the price would be much more).

.Many of the fixtures shown above use Acorn sockets. You can always tell a Bergmann Acorn because the inside of the socket will not be made out of Porcelain, it will be Vulcanized Fiber. While I still need to update the page greatly, you can see some examples of Acorns and other Bergmann sockets on this this page.

When the fixtures shown on this page were used together with shades, they were used with shades that were available during the period. Some of these in the early days were those that were made for gas fixtures, and as the time progressed, more and more shades were made for electrical fixtures.

Either way, your 1880's example should have a shade (or reflector) of the period on it. This means preferably of an ornate nature depending on the fixture. Bergmann offered many ornate and some plain shades. These shades came in different colors and styles such as Flowers, Etched Globes and Shades, Opal and Opalescent Globes and Shades as well as Decorated Globes. These came in colors such as Ruby, Opalescent, Pearl, Dark Amber, etc. Flowers came in White and Pink, White and Yellow, Pale Green, etc. Styles of shades came in Squat, Pan, Scalloped Pan, Crown, Cut Crown, etc. Then there were offered the more standard glass, porcelain and tin style shades and reflectors.

I will cover shades in much more detail on this site later, but the first and most important thing in looking at shades is to know the difference between a hand blown, mold blown and molded or pressed glass shade. Knowing this difference will aid you in knowing the period of your shade. It can also help you ID some bad reproductions.

Also look for imperfections in the glass (which is good). I have seen so many times in talking to antique vendors; "Oh, it has a groove Or dent.. Imperfection in the glass" BUT - What they are actually saying is this shade is not going to cost you as much. In most cases this is just plain silly! While I will take the price cut if offered, I come more from school and understanding to pay a bit more for those unique imperfections. It is also worth mentioning that older and hand blown shades are normally much lighter in weight and more delicate (paper thin) then those that came in later dates using different production methods.

You can view a demo of the 1883 Bergmann catalog here (or if you would like more information about it for trading or to purchase a full copy of of it click here).

I am searching for one of these the cluster globes shown above (or any multiple socket clear globe fixture). If you have one or know of someone with one, please contact me.

For more information on Bergmann, click here. For more information on Edison, click here.


As shown in the beginning of this page, there were a few different inventors during this time inventing Dynamo motors to generate electricity. Since we are dealing with such an early period in time for incandescent lighting, there is not much to show for fixture design. If it was not for Bergmann & Co., This web page would likely be really small!

Each company selling an electric "System" offered a line of products to go along with that system.

Some companies such as Brush, were late in offering incandescent lighting and fixtures because they were targeting a different market namely ARC lighting. Arc lighting was mostly used for outside or factory lighting. Both have their place, and bugs needed to be worked out of both systems as time progressed. It was Edison that leaned more towards fixing the issues to do with incandescent lighting, but as incandescence caught on and was in wider use, those that had been offering Arc systems slowly began selling incandescent products.

The main inventors at this time; Edison (we already learned about), Weston (The United States Electric Lighting Company), Brush (The Brush Electric Company), Thomson-Houston (The Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company of Philadelphia) and Stanley (who later teamed up with Westinghouse).


The United States Electric Lighting Company was formed in 1878 along with a merger from The Weston Electric Light Company that had been organized in 1877.

This new company was basically made up of three major inventors which were; Edward Weston (for his ARC lighting system.), Hiram Maxim (for incandescent lighting system (regulator and his incandescent lamp/filament patents) and Moses Farmer (who had a long time first hand experience with generators and early incandescent lighting).

You can view a demo of the 1882 United States Electric Company catalog here (or if you would like more information about it for trading or to purchase a full copy of of it click here).

In the 1882 United States Electric Lighting catalog, we find many different examples of Arc lighting fixtures. There are only two incandescent lighting fixtures shown and one street light with a note that it can be converted for use with incandescent lighting.

On the page where they show the first incandescent fixture they say:

"For incandescent lamps ordinary gas-fixtures can be used by properly attaching the lamp-holders, and the conducting wires may be carried to the lamps either through the pipes or along side of them".
The United States Electric Lighting Company Catalog 1882 Page No. 23

Most people when they started using electric lighting, still used gas as well. They had some gas lighting and some electric, and many also had combination fixtures such as were being offered by Edison. It looks to me like the concern was there that some people did not wish to mess up their old gas seals on their fixtures or that there might be some other problems, so just let the wires hang on the out side of the fixture. WOW -- I can see the Governor's Mansion being wired like this. This is NOT sounding really professional or elegant to me after seeing what Edison-Bergmann was doing. Who are these people? In any case it is clear that it was not this company that brought us into the awesome electrical age that we live in. Be it known that I am not downgrading any of the products or inventions here, I have a love for all three of them, however, it seems that there should have been a forth person added to this company with a talent for decorating.

This 1884 United States Electric Company catalog has not yet been scanned into pdf, please contact me if you are interested in a copy for sale or trade.


By 1880 Brush had solved several major problems in arc-lighting. He invented a 16 hour double carbon arc lamp, an automatic regulator for multiple lamps, and introduced copper plated arc carbons. These three inventions solved all of the major problems in arc lighting in the early years. Pictured on right The Brush Electric Company in 1883.

After the main issues in Arc had been solved, there were no major changes in arc systems for the next ten years. Now, w
ith all of the attention being drawn to these new inventions and Charles Brush himself, it was not a hard thing for him to move forward and break into the open market with his new kind of electric lighting.

The Brush Electric Company was one of the first to bring Arc Lighting to the public. Charles Brush (picture shown on the left) teamed together with Joseph Swan (picture below) of the Swan United Electric Light Co. Limited in England, before the Edison partnership in 1883.

A new company was formed in 1882 to introduce the Swan system, which was called The Swan Incandescent Electric Light Company of New York.

Later (in 1885) another company was formed in Cleveland Ohio called The Swan Lamp Manufacturing Company.

Brush offered Swan bulbs and sockets as early as 1882 as seen in the 1883 Brush catalog. At this time in 1883 Brush and Swan only offered baseless bulbs and sockets like the ones shown below in this section.

While it is not as yet a proven fact, I personally believe that The Swan Lamp Manufacturing Company was formed and controlled by Brush. My reasoning is:

1.) There was already a New York Swan company, which was not successful enough to require another location.

2.) Brush was in Cleveland Ohio.

3.) It is also a known fact that Brush was manufacturing Swan bulbs. When Edison won his legal battle against the British firm Woodhouse & Rawson in 1886 the courts also upheld infringement against Brush. This was solved by the statement "The Brush company agreed to give up the production of incandescent lamps until the Edison patent expired". (The Electric Lamp Industry - Bright page 108)

4.) I think it is safe to assume since a new company would need someone to oversee it, and the fact that we live in a big world, it is more then chance that this company would start in Cleveland Ohio. After all, who else in this industry was selling Swan in the U.S. ? Brush is the only answer that I know of.

Brush later sold his controlling stock in the Brush Electric Company to Thomson-Houston (October 1889) at 75.00 per share and a total of 3,000,000. This was Thomson-Houston's was to settle their legal problems with Brush. (Men And Volts - page 163). When Thomson-Houston and other companies merged in 1892 to form General Electric, Brush decided to retire and pursue independent laboratory operations.

You can view a demo of the 1883 Swan Company catalog here (or if you would like more information about it for trading or to purchase a full copy of of it click here).

The images above are taken from an English Swan United Electric Light Company Limited catalog that was published in 1883. This catalog was put out early 1883 before the Edison merger and company name change.

The early Brush 1883 catalog (New York, January, 1883) is called BRUSH-SWAN - Electric Light- The Swan Incandescent Electric Lamp, The Brush Arc Light and Storage Systems.

The 1883 Brush catalog shows fixtures that were being offered by the Swan company and one Mitchell-Vance fixture that was shown in this early catalog as well as the Brush 1885 and 1887 catalogs. This fixture was fitted with Edison-Bergmann acorn sockets which were sold in the Edison catalogs as a separate item. Also shown and being sold for the Brush system is the Brush-Swan lamp holder which is displayed alone and with a bulb in it described as "The Swan Lamp Complete" as shown to your right.

This 1883 Brush Electric Company catalog has not yet been scanned into pdf, please contact me if you are interested in a copy for sale or trade.

Later in 1885 Brush invented his own socket and base which is called today the Brush-Swan socket.

This socket is shown in the 1885 and 1887 Brush catalogs.

The 1887 catalog shows the more common longer Brush-Swan bulb.

Though Brush had at his access, his own socket (as well as Swan sockets and bulbs), he still offered fixtures in his catalogs with Edison-Acorn sockets on them.

These third party fixtures were sold along with his systems. One of these fixtures (shown below) was made by the Mitchell-Vance Company. Mitchell-Vance was the most well known gas fixture company during these early years and known to provide the most elegant fixtures.

Also, as we already learned in the beginning of this page above, two Mitchell-Vance gas fixtures were converted by Edison for his demonstration at Menlo Park as well.

You can view a demo of the 1885 Brush Company catalog here (or if you would like more information about it for trading or to purchase a full copy of of it click here).

Below is a picture of an early Brush-Swan over a flat white opal glass reflector of the period.
It is also pictured using a shade holder that later (October 1888) was offered by Thomson-Houston before their merger with Brush in 1889. If you have any other information about this shade holder, I would be glad to hear it.

For more information about Brush, or for close up pictures of the Brush-Swan socket click here.


Elihu Thomson was born in Manchester, England in 1853. He came to the United States with his parents at the age of five and was raised and educated in Philadelphia. After graduation from High School, Thomson returned to his alma mater as a teacher of physics and chemistry. He joined with Edwin Houston, a fellow teacher, experimenting in things such as arc-lighting and centrifugal force. They made several inventions and improvements in both fields. He began work at the American Electric Company in 1882. He eventually founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company and ultimately took over the business of his previous employer. He continued work in many important fields including arc lamps, transformers, electric motors, and the Thomson electric meter. Thomson also patented an electrical welding process. In 1888, Thomson founded a second company, Thomson Electric Welding, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Thomson attended Yale after this merger and then continued on to Tufts where he received a Ph.D. He worked steadily on with the General Electric Company in Lynn, Massachusetts as director of the electrical division until his death in 1937. His career spanned five decades during which Thomson was granted 696 United States patents. Source

Edwin J. Houston (18471914 shown on the right) was an American electrical inventor.
He helped design an arc light generator with Elihu Thomson.
The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was formed in 1883 from the merger of the Elihu Thomson's American Electric Company and the interests of Edwin Houston.

The president of The Thomson-Houston Electric Light Company of Philadelphia, was Charles Coffin a former shoe manufacturer with a unique and shrewd business outlook. Coffin had an everlasting constantly renewed vision that was never complete or satisfied.
He was not comfortable with waiting for profits or success, he went out of his way to make it happen.

When the company first started in 1883 Coffin's main business target was Arc Lighting. As the company grew (also with some noted bankers on his side), he began buying out competitors (or controlling interests in those companies) that had a foothold in the area of patents or production. This was about the same time that Edison had merged his electrical companies into The Edison General Electric Company and also buying out other companies. Finally in 1892 Thomson-Houston and Edison General Electric Company merged by forming a new company called "General Electric". By 1891 Thomson-Houston was already worth 10 million which was greater then the Edison companies. After the merger was complete The new General Electric Company had a capitol stock of 35,000,000 which was distributed to the shareholders of the old Edison General Electric Company, Thomson-Houston and others in exchange for their holdings. The Thomson-Houston side of the ownership was much greater then the side of the Edison interests, so control was on the Thomson-Houston side and Coffin took his place as the first president of General Electric the largest Electric Company in the world. Coffin's vision continued which was a big part of bringing us into the electrical age that we now live in.

Thomson-Houston Catalog Demos
1883, 1886, 1886-SM, 1888, 1890 & 1892 - Catalogs for sale or trade info here


About the same time period (1883) George Westinghouse (shown on the left) who had already built his empire manufacturing railroad equipment, started looking forward to expanding his empire into electric lighting.

He was introduced to William Stanley (shown on the right) in 1884 by his brother (who had just invented a steam engine that could be used to drive a Dynamo).

Stanley had invented a self regulating Dynamo and an incandescent lamp that used a carbonized silk filament. Stanley's current lamp patents were assigned to Swan of which Westinghouse purchased for 50,000 and then put Stanley on his payroll at a salary of 5,000 per year. Stanley also agreed to assign all future inventions to Westinghouse providing he sold them and paid him 10% of any profits made on them to which Westinghouse agreed. In 1883 Westinghouse started selling incandescent lighting systems through the Union Switch & Signal Company.


The Westinghouse Electric Company was formed by January 8th 1886 with a stock capitol of 1,000,000. This was after George Westinghouse had read about a new way of transmitting electricity using alternating current.

Though he was opposed by everyone, he had a vision and pressed forward which ended up revolutionizing the electrical industry.

Westinghouse then began buying up other patents and electric lighting companies just as Thomson-Houston was doing at that time. Within a few years it owned controlling interest in the United States Electric Company, Consolidated Electric, Waterhouse, Sawyer-Man, etc.

By 1890 Westinghouse had declared assets of over 12,000,000

In 1886 Westinghouse bought the patents of a European born alternating current inventor by the name of Nikola Tesla for 1,000,000 plus royalty of 1.00 per horse power.

Telsa (shown on your right) continued working for Westinghouse until 1888 as a consultant.

As Westinghouse started moving in to alternating current, other major concerns were close behind him such as Thomson-Houston.

TO VIEW A TABLE OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GENERAL ELECTRIC AND WESTINGHOUSE COMPANIES FROM 1872 UNTIL 1896 CLICK HERE. This table covers all of the mergers and stock purchases as well as licensing or purchase of patent rights of both of these major companies.

It is best viewed in raw mode or downloaded or printed. If you have problems viewing the image link above try viewing or printing the PDF version of the table here.

To view some early Westinghouse items, click here and then back on your browser.

Westinghouse Catalog Demos
1888, 1890-SM, 1892
Electrical Engineer - 1886 - Westinghouse Article

Electrical World - Westinghouse Article - 1887




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