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Henry Wallace McCandless

Henry Wallace McCandless began his career in the miniature lamp business after acquiring the remaining machinery from Herman Jaeger's 27th Street incandescent lamp factory in New York City . Jaeger fell under hard times in 1895 after the failure of his "Packard" type pump used to exhaust incandescent lamps. Jaeger was unable to afford the expensive repair cost and a lawsuit was filed against him that resulted in the bankruptcy of his incandescent lamp factory. The contents of Jaeger's factory, including the pumping equipment, were sold at auction while other things were sold off to junk dealers. McCandless attended the auction sale and purchased Jaeger's equipment and then purchased the missing things that were sold off to the junk dealers prior to the auction. The year is 1895 and Henry McCandless is now in the incandescent lamp business, rather quickly and unexpectedly. Without knowledge of the incandescent lamp business, McCandless hires Herman Jaeger to manage the factory - the factory that Jaeger himself originally started, while McCandless oversees the business aspects. Shortly thereafter, McCandless accuses Jaeger of taking advantage of him and is fired. This was Jaeger's last involvement with the incandescent lamp factory on 27th Street . McCandless replaced Jaeger with an engineer from Thomson-Houston (Lynn, Ma.) who had a background in lamp production. Eventually however, McCandless himself decided he would be better suited to manage the lamp factory and commenced to learn the practice firsthand after hiring a partner to manage the business end of the company. McCandless soon establishes a reputation in the lamp industry for producing miniature lamps of a custom variety and in low volumes.

Ten years later in 1905 McCandless would be a key fixture in the history of the vacuum tube when approached by an associate of Lee DeForest who requested six duplications of the British Fleming Valve. From 1910 through 1915, McCandless produced all DeForest Audion vacuum tubes. McCandless, who specialized in manufacturing custom lamps in low volumes, was well suited for the task of producing Audions.

Aside from producing Audions, McCandless was also an early manufacturer of Christmas lamps and decorative lamps sold under the "Empire" brand name during the early 1900s. Automotive lamps were also made by the company. McCandless sold his lamp business to Westinghouse Electric in April of 1914. From 1914 through 1916, miniature lamps were sold under the "McCandless Westinghouse" name. The McCandless name was used by Westinghouse until at least 1920. Henry McCandless headed up the special lamps division of Westinghouse from 1914 through 1919. From 1919 until his retirement in 1935, McCandless served as an adviser to Westinghouse. Henry McCandless passed on December 24th, 1957 at the age of 91.

The "Empire" brand name has been found on trade literature from 1900 and 1908. It's unknown when the name was first used. Early miniature lamps marked "Empire N.Y." on the base are believed to be products of McCandless.


McCandless Timeline

1866 - Born in Orion, Illinois

1890 - Graduates the University of Illinois after studying mechanical engineering. McCandless finds employment with the Thomson-Houston Electric Co. (Chicago) as a draftsman and later in the Estimating department.

1891 - Employment with Thomson-Houston ends, McCandless sent to General Electric (Schenectady) to create and oversee the Estimating department during the Edison Electric & Thomson-Houston merger.

1895 - Employment ends with General Electric. McCandless enters into the incandescent lamp business at Jaeger's 27th Street, New York City factory. One source quotes the year as being 1893.

1903 - Marries Nancy Pearl Long of Lynn, Illinois.

1904 - Birth of child Margaret Louise.

1905 - Approached by an associate of Lee DeForest to replicate six copies of the Fleming Valve. Treasurer of Ernwall Realty Co. (New York City).

1906 - Member of the Masonic Lodge, Hope Number 244, New York.

1907 - Birth of child Nancy.

1908 - Business address listed at 67-69 Park Place, New York City.

1909 - Birth of child Wanda.

1912 - Birth of child Ruth Shirley.

1913 - Business address listed at 67-69 Park Place, New York City.

1914 - Westinghouse buys out McCandless.

1915 - Audion production stops and DeForest was producing his own vacuum tubes. Business address listed at 67-69 Park Place, New York City.

1918 - Business address listed at 406 West 31st Street, New York City.

1919-1935 - Served as adviser to Westinghouse concerning miniature lamps.

1935 - Retired from Westinghouse.

1957 - Passed away December 24th.



  • Tube Collector's Association, Special Publication #6, "McCandless and the Audion", December 2003
  • University of Illinois alumni records.
  • "Electrical Review" journal, Vol. 51, No. 11, September 14, 1907 (McCandless photo)
  • "The Trow Copartnership and Corporation Directory of the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, City of New York"
    (Library of Congress call number HG4058.N5)
  • "New York State Department of Labor, Second Annual Industrial Directory of New York State, 1913"
    (compiled and published under the direction of James M. Lynch Commissioner of Labor) Albany, State Department of Labor, 1913.

Related links:



H.W. McCandless in 1907,
President of H.W. McCandless Company,
New York City


H.W. McCandless decorative miniature lamps
H.W. McCandless decorative miniature lamps
with carbon filaments and plaster insulation, ca.1900


DeForest tubular Audion triode vacuum tube
from 1908 made by H.W. McCandless


H.W. McCandless Company
H.W. McCandless Company
67-69 Park Place factory, 1912


Westinghouse McCandless Mazda
automobile lamp display, 1919