Tiny Lamp Outshines Giant Tube (Jul, 1931)

Tiny Lamp Outshines Giant Tube

SIZE doesn’t seem to be the most important feature when it comes to candlepower in lamps, for the tiny photo flashlamp shown in the photo below is about three and one-third times as powerful as the larger one. However, the small one lasts only one-fiftieth of a second, while the large one lasts about a hundred hours.

12 comments
  1. Emperor MAR says: September 1, 20095:24 pm

    The giant bulb looks like a big piece of painted cardboard with metal feet. No wonder the smaller one shines brighter.

  2. Randy says: September 1, 20097:32 pm

    If you look at the large bulb’s shadow on the wall, you can see that there is light refracting through it, rather than a “hard” shadow that a cardboard sillhouette woud form.

  3. Emperor MAR says: September 1, 20098:59 pm

    Thanks for pointing that out. I see that now. I guess these old photos just look like paintings to me.

  4. jayessell says: September 1, 20099:17 pm

    What would that sort of bulb be used for?
    Lighthouses?
    Airport beacons?

    It lasts 100 hours?
    Less than two weeks at 8 hours a day.
    I bet it cost $500.00!

  5. Randy says: September 1, 200910:28 pm

    @3: “I guess these old photos just look like paintings to me.”

    Most publicity photos from the 1930′s were touched up with an airbrush, the “Photoshop” of the day (to hint at another thread here…)

    I have an original photographic print of the Burlington Railroad’s “Mark Twain Zephyr”, which was composited from three different photographs, and under magnification there is not one bit of the Twain that was not touched up with airbrush. It is a commonly-reproduced photo, but without an original print (to get past the typical halftone reproduction) the compositing and retouching would not be evident at all.

    There were true artists “in the day”, every bit the equivalent of Photoshop aces today.

  6. Casandro says: September 2, 200912:58 am

    Sh definitely is holding a cardboard sign. She wouldn’t be able to hold such a light blub comfortably for longer periods.

  7. Randy says: September 2, 20091:10 am

    I am sure it is a real lightbulb:

    1. The fabric of the chair seat is visibly indented where the electrodes are resting on it.

    2. The fabric of the chair back is visible through the bulb envelope.

    3. The refracted image of the mantle of the fireplace on the wall behind is visible in the bulb envelope.

    4. The position of the model’s fingers are indicitave of holding a 3D object rather than a 2D cutout.

    Given the fact that the bulb’s weight is supported by the chair, and the center of gravity of the bulb is almost certainly below the point at which the model is holding it, and the neck of the bulb itself is resting against the arm of the chair, it would not take any effort at all for the model to hold the bulb in that position.

    2. and 3. could be faked with airbrushing, but I doubt that it could be done with so convincing an effect.

  8. Casandro says: September 2, 20091:57 am

    Well actually I dispute 4. Her fingers are going at nearly at a 90 degree angle.

    Then why do you only see the pattern of the chair at the middle of the bulb? Why don’t you see her arm through the glass? Why do the reflections look so stereotype and show rows of windows? The lady clearly has only one dominant light source.

    If anything it’s a flat sheet of glass, that would explain the transparency in some parts of it.

  9. Randy says: September 2, 20092:21 am

    Casandro, but the lighting of her finger joints indicates each one is progressively bent. If I’m holding a flat sheet, I pinch it between my fingers and thumb. I would find it hard to hold a flat sheet with my thumb parallel to my fingers as she is posed.

    The fabric of the arm of the chair is plainly visible through the neck of the bulb. The fabric pattern of the chair back is discernable, though much distorted, through the main part of the bulb next to the model’s head.

    The model’s hair itself is reflected in the adjacent wall of the bulb in just the way a convex surface would present.

    Given the multiplicity of lights reflected from the top surface of the bulb, I would guess the setting is either a stage set, or some kind of industrial display in a large building (convention center etc.)

    There are two similar, but smaller bulbs, shown at http://scienceservice.s… The construction of the filaments and the pin bases are very similar to the bulb in this photo. Those bulbs were described as being for motion picture illumination.

    OK, your turn. :)

  10. Jari says: September 3, 20095:59 pm

    This 50kW lamp seems to be the one with the lady: http://www.bulbcollecto…

    At least the size and construction are similar. Apparently Edison-Ford museum in Florida has this and a whopping 75 kW lamps on their collections, but the link didn’t work.

  11. Randy says: September 3, 20097:07 pm

    Great find, Jari–you’ve nailed it! I had seen the Fig. 3 illustration during my Google search, but did not trace it back to that page.

  12. Charlie says: September 3, 20099:11 pm

    Thanks for that link Jari. God do I love the internet. http://www.bulbcollecto…? Awesome.

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