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Author Topic: What is the rarest bulb ?  (Read 4816 times)

Offline Bob Masters

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« on: April 30, 2002, 12:35:00 pm »
I was wondering what the rarest bulb known to exist is (that actually exists), and who has it.

Offline Chris W. Millinship

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2002, 03:21:00 pm »
Interesting question, but one of which I`m not sure there is a single answer.

The Diehl Induction Lamp is an extroadinarily scarce lamp, only two are known to still exist in the world as far as I know. One was at Mount Vernon, the other in the hands of a certian mr Westlick, last I heard.

But I`m willing to bet that in this big old world of ours, there are some types of bulb of which there are no others in existance. Either they were created as unique one-off prototypes, or they are the only survivor from a small obscure company who never made that many in the first place.
As far as their value goes, well famous examples like the earliest Edison, Maxim or Swan lamps- and of course that Diehl lamp- would fetch the most. An oddball lamp from some company no-one`s ever heard of, or a plain looking prototype that was hand made at the labs of Osram, GE or Swansea University (I know James has made one-off bulbs before now!) may not fetch that much. It`s a bit of a pity, but I reckon that`s the way it would go.


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Offline Dave

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2002, 10:36:00 pm »
In addition to the Diehl lamp, there is also one type of lamp worth mentioning. That example is an 1881 Edison lamp with an 1879 envelope...only three are known to exist, and these came from a special batch of lamps. At least one of these can still be found at the late Dr. Hicks' museum to my last knowledge if nothing changed very recently.

Offline Bill Anderson

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2002, 05:18:00 pm »
There are several mega rare bulbs that I know about in private collections:

Dr. Hick's Museum has a unique bulb and socket from the Steamship Columbia.

There are several at Jerry Westlick's Portage River Museum such as an Indianapolis Jenny based Phoenix lamp; an 1881 wood cup based mercury filled leads, vegetable fiber filament Lane Fox.

A collection in Kansas has a very early 1880's Von Choate back filled with nitrogen.

I own an 1882 tip-less American Electric bulb (from the predecessor of the Thompson Houston company) from the Hammer collection.

It's hard to point to the single rarest bulb, but the examples above are probably the only ones of their type in existence.

Offline Tim

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2002, 05:51:00 pm »
Bob, I think this is a loaded question but a good one for debate.  It's interesting how the word "rare" immediately conjures up thoughts and images of some of the earliest (and most valuable) light bulbs made.  As pointed out, the bulbs mentioned above are of course extremely rare and often one of a kind.  But as Chris brought to light, a one of a kind prototype manufactured yesterday is just as ?rare? as any of the bulbs mentioned above.  It?s not of course as valuable or probably desirable as the previous mentioned but nonetheless it?s historic from a technological standpoint and indeed ?rare?.  I?d like to see some examples of these bulbs cited here.  James?  Bob?

Kilokat's Antique Light Bulb Site
Mountain Dew Collectibles, Volume I

Offline Bob Masters

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What is the rarest bulb ?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2002, 10:34:00 am »
Looking at this subject in that light certainly adds some perspective. That miniature prototype headlamp you have is a good example I suppose. Since I was assured long ago that there were no others, and they were never introduced into manufacture, they would qualify as "rare". I did come across that other one too. Being of a slightly different design, I guess that one qualifies too.