• If you like antique engines, vintage tractors or old iron machinery, register and join us. When you register on Smokstak, please give complete answers and fill in the blanks. - IF YOU ARE ON WIRELESS OR SATELLITE, ENTER YOUR CITY AND STATE! NO ZIPCODES! All registrations are manually approved.

Vintage Dim-a-Lite Light Bulb Dimmer

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
I picked up one of these yesterday. $10 at an antique shop. Nicely made, you rotate it and it dims the bulb. I thought I might use it with an old light bulb. I've been told that lowering the voltge will make the bulb last a lot longer.

It's hard to read in the picture, but it says "Wirt Company Patended Dim-a-lite Nov 24 1908 Phila PA USA 40W 110V Made in USA".

I assume the date is just the date of the patent? Anybody know how old it might be? Thanks.
 

Attachments

I've seen collectors state that these were made from the early 1900's through the 1930's if I recall.

I find the wattage rating interesting...........why in the world would you want to DIM a 40 watt bulb??? :)
 

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
Good point. I guess maybe 40 watts seemed pretty bright after candles or kerosene lamps?
 

Larry Evans

Subscriber
Age
84
Last Subscription Date
12/20/2019
I assume the date is just the date of the patent? Anybody know how old it might be? Thanks.
You are right about the date. Patents are issued once a week on Tuesdays and Nov. 24, 1908 was a Tuesday.

Larry Evans
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
IIRC, the 40 watt tungsten lamp replaced the 51? watt metalized carbon lamp, and did at the same time produce considerably more light. So dimming it when not all of the light was desired would have been desirable.

And, at the time, it was common to leave a reduced light on all night, so the dimmer would have been one way to do this. Dual filament lamps was another.

I have a book from 1920 entitled "Electric Lighting" that details all of this stuff as current or recent history. It's my favorite book in my collection, but it's been a while since I've looked at it, so my facts are likely a bit rusty.

Here's a dual filament lamp that was designed to be a flashing sign lamp:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MORz3riBfg8

These were much more commonly fitted with a pull string operated switch to select between high and low.
 

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
Do you have an author or publisher for that book? I'd like to find it, but the ones I see on Amazon seem more like antique guides?
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Haha, yeah, this is from before they had a chance to become antique. :D

I consider it to be a perfectly timed book. By 1920, the modern light bulb was state of the art. For the time being, at least, you can STILL buy lamps made just as they were in 1920, though undoubtedly of lower quality. Yet the earliest practical technology is also discussed, as well as much of that between the two. Indeed, it seems that, in 1920, most of those technologies co-existed. For instance, the use of carbon filament lamps in the dining room to create a more pleasant atmosphere is discussed.

It is an engineering book, firstly, but delves into the role of lighting architecturally speaking as well. Indeed the students of that era would be appalled at the state of affairs regarding the disgusting abominations that pass for satisfactory illumination in our era.

Electric Lighting
Olin Jerome Ferguson
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
1920
 

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
Thanks Vanman. I can't find an original copy of the book, but was surprised to see that it has been reprinted and is readily avaiable. I didn't realize there was so much interest, but it's nice to see that.

It's also available on line, and I read a few parts. Very interesting; it's a classic. I will try to find an original copy for a reasonable price.

https://www.amazon.com/Electric-Lig...05048270&sr=1-2&keywords=Olin+jerome+ferguson
 
Top