Artificial Light - Its Influence upon Civilization
by M. Luckiesh
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Subscripts have been marked with an underscore character in front with text surrounded in curly braces, for example: H_{2}O (formula of water).

2. Inconsistent hyphenation of words preserved.

3. Several misprints fixed. A full list of corrections can be found at the end of the text.

The Century Books of Useful Science





Author of "Color and Its Applications," "Light and Shade and Their Applications," "The Lighting Art," "The Language of Color," etc.



Copyright, 1920, by THE CENTURY CO.




In the following pages I have endeavored to discuss artificial light for the general reader, in a manner as devoid as possible of intricate details. The early chapters deal particularly with primitive artificial light and their contents are generally historical. The science of light-production may be considered to have been born in the latter part of the eighteenth century and beginning with that period a few chapters treat of the development of artificial light up to the present time. Until the middle of the nineteenth century mere light was available, but as the century progressed, the light-sources through the application of science became more powerful and efficient. Gradually mere light grew to more light and in the dawn of the twentieth century adequate light became available. In a single century, after the development of artificial light began in earnest, the efficiency of light-production increased fifty-fold and the cost diminished correspondingly. The next group of chapters deals with various economic influences of artificial light and with some of the byways in which artificial light is serving mankind. On passing through the spectacular aspects of lighting we finally emerge into the esthetics of light and lighting.

The aim has been to show that artificial light has become intricately interwoven with human activities and that it has been a powerful influence upon the progress of civilization. The subject is too extensive to be treated in detail in a single volume, but an effort has been made to present a discussion fairly complete in scope. It is hoped that the reader will gain a greater appreciation of artificial light as an economic factor, as an artistic medium, and as a mighty influence upon the safety, efficiency, health, happiness, and general progress of mankind.



It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge the cooeperation of various companies in obtaining the photographs which illustrate this book. With the exception of Plates 2 and 7, which are reproduced from the excellent works of Benesch and Allegemane respectively, the illustrations of early lighting devices are taken from an historical collection in the possession of the National Lamp Works of the General Electric Co. To this company the author is indebted for Plates 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 15, 18b, 20, 21, 29; to Dr. McFarlan Moore for Plate 10; to Macbeth Evans Glass Co. for Plate 12; to the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, for Plate 13; to Lynn Works of G. E. Co. for Plates 14, 16; to Edison Lamp Works of G. E. Co. for Plates 17, 24; to Cooper Hewitt Co. for Plate 18a; to R. U. V. Co. for Plate 19; to New York Edison Co. for Plates 22, 26, 30; to W. D'A. Ryan and the Schenectady Works of G. E. Co. for Plates 23, 25, 31; to National X-Ray Reflector Co. for Plate 28. Besides the companies and the individuals particularly involved in the foregoing, the author is glad to acknowledge his appreciation of the assistance of others during the preparation of this volume.































Light and Liberty Frontispiece FACING PAGE Primitive fire-baskets 16

Crude splinter-holders 16

Early open-flame oil and grease lamps 17

A typical metal multiple-wick open-flame oil-lamp 32

A group of oil-lamps of two centuries ago 33

Lamps of a century or two ago 56

Elaborate fixtures of the age of candles 57

Flame arc 128

Direct current arc 128

On the testing-racks of the manufacturer of incandescent filament lamps 129

Carbon-dioxide tube for accurate color-matching 160

The Moore nitrogen tube 160

Modern street lighting 161

A completed lighthouse lens 176

Torro Point Lighthouse, Panama Canal 176

American search-light position on Western Front in 1919 177

American standard field search-light and power unit 177

Signal-light for airplane 232

Trench light-signaling outfit 232

Aviation field light-signal projector 232

Signal search-light for airplane 232

Unsafe, unproductive lighting worthy of the dark ages 233

The same factory made safe, cheerful, and more productive by modern lighting 233

Locomotive electric headlight 240

Search-light on a fire-boat 240

Building ships under artificial light at Hog Island Shipyard 241

Artificial light in photography 256

Sterilizing water with radiant energy from quartz mercury-arcs 257

Judging color under artificial daylight 272

Artificial daylight 273

Fireworks and illuminated battle-fleet at Hudson-Fulton Celebration 288

Fireworks exhibition on May Day at Panama-Pacific Exposition 289

The new flood lighting contrasted with the old outline lighting 304

Niagara Falls flooded with light 305

Artificial light honoring those who fell and those who returned 320

The expressiveness of light in churches 321

Obtaining two different moods in a room by a portable lamp which supplies direct and indirect components of light 336

The lights of New York City 337

Artificial light in community affairs 352

Panama-Pacific Exposition 353




The human race was born in slavery, totally subservient to nature. The earliest primitive beings feasted or starved according to nature's bounty and sweltered or shivered according to the weather. When night fell they sought shelter with animal instinct, for not only were activities almost completely curtailed by darkness but beyond its screen lurked many dangers. It is interesting to philosophize upon a distinction between a human being and the animal just below him in the scale, but it may serve the present purpose to distinguish the human being as that animal in whom there is an unquenchable and insatiable desire for independence. The effort to escape from the bondage of nature is not solely a human instinct; animals burrow or build retreats through the instinct of self-preservation. But this instinct in animals is soon satisfied, whereas in human beings it has been leading ever onward toward complete emancipation.

The progress of civilization is a long chain of countless achievements each one of which has increased man's independence. Early man perhaps did not conceive the idea of fire and then set out to produce it. His infant mind did not operate in this manner. But when he accidentally struck a spark, produced fire by friction, or discovered it in some other manner, he saw its possibility. It is thrilling to picture primitive man at his first bonfire, enjoying the warmth, or at least interested in it. But how wonderful it must have become as twilight's curtain was drawn across the heavens! This controllable fire emitted light. It is easy to imagine primitive man pondering over this phenomenon with his sluggish mind. Doubtless he cautiously picked up a flaming stick and timidly explored the crowding darkness. Perhaps he carried it into his cave and behold! night had retreated from his abode! No longer was it necessary for him to retire to his bed of leaves when daylight failed. The fire not only banished the chill of night but was a power over darkness. Viewed from the standpoint of civilization, its discovery was one of the greatest strides along the highway of human progress. The activities of man were no longer bounded by sunrise and sunset. The march of civilization had begun.

In the present age of abundant artificial light, with its manifold light-sources and accessories which have made possible countless applications of light, mankind does not realize the importance of this comfort. Its wonderful convenience and omnipresence have resulted in indifference toward it by mankind in general, notwithstanding the fact that it is essential to man's most important and educative sense. By extinguishing the light and pondering upon his helplessness in the resulting darkness, man may gain an idea of its overwhelming importance. Those unfortunate persons who suffer the terrible calamity of blindness after years of dependence upon sight will testify in heartrending terms to the importance of light. Milton, whose eyesight had failed, laments,

O first created beam and thou great Word "Let there be light," and light was over all, Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?

Perhaps only through a similar loss would one fully appreciate the tremendous importance of light to him, but imagination should be capable of convincing him that it is one of the most essential and pleasure-giving phenomena known to mankind.

A retrospective view down the vista of centuries reveals by contrast the complexity with which artificial light is woven into human activities of the present time. Written history fails long before the primitive races are reached, but it is safe to trust the imagination to penetrate the fog of unwritten history and find early man huddled in his cave as daylight wanes. Impelled by the restless spirit of progress, this primitive being grasped the opportunity which fire afforded to extend his activities beyond the boundaries of daylight. The crude art upon the walls of his cave was executed by the flame of a smoking fagot. The fire on the ledge at the entrance to his abode became a symbol of home, as the fire on the hearth has symbolized home and hospitality throughout succeeding ages. The accompanying light and the protection from cold combined to establish the home circle. The ties of mated animals expanded through these influences to the bonds of family. Thus light was woven early into family life and has been throughout the ages a moralizing and civilizing influence. To-day the residence functions as a home mainly under artificial light, for owing to the conditions of living and working, the family group gathers chiefly after daylight has failed.

From the pine knot of primitive man to the wonderfully convenient light-sources of to-day there is a great interval, consisting, as appears retrospectively, of small and simple steps long periods apart. Measured by present standards and achievements, development was slow at first and modern man may be inclined to impatience as he views the history of light and human progress. But the achievements of early centuries, which appear so simple at the present time, were really great accomplishments when considered in the light of the knowledge of those remote periods. Science as it exists to-day is founded upon proved facts. The scientist, equipped with a knowledge of physical and chemical laws, is led by his imagination into the darkness of the unexplored unknown. This knowledge illuminates the pathway so that hypotheses are intelligently formed. These evolve into theories which are gradually altered to fit the accumulating facts, for along the battle area of progress there are innumerable scouting-parties gaining secrets from nature. These are supported by individuals and by groups, who verify, amplify, and organize the facts, and they in turn are followed by inventors who apply them. Liaison is maintained at all points, but the attack varies from time to time. It may be intense at certain places and other sectors may be quiet for a time. There are occasional reverses, but the whole line in general progresses. Each year witnesses the acquirement of new territory. It is seen that through the centuries there is an ever-growing momentum as knowledge, efficiency, and organization increase the strength of this invading army of scientists and inventors.

The burning fagot rescued mankind from the shackles of darkness, and the grease-lamp and tallow-candle have done their part. Progress was slow in those early centuries because the great minds of those ages philosophized without a basis of established facts: scientific progress resulted more from an accumulation of accidental discoveries than by a directed attack of philosophy supported by the facts established by experiment. It was not until comparatively recent times, at most three centuries ago, that the great intellects turned to systematically organized scientific research. Such men as Newton laid the foundation for the tremendous strides of to-day. The store of facts increased and as the attitude changed from philosophizing to investigating, the organized knowledge grew apace. All of this paved the way for the momentous successes of the present time.

The end is not in sight and perhaps never will be. The unexplored region extends to infinity and, judged by the past, the momentum of discovery will continue to increase for ages to come, unless the human race decays through the comfort and ease gained from utilizing the magic secrets which are constantly being wrested from nature. Among the achievements of science and invention, the production and application of artificial light ranks high. As an influence upon civilization, no single achievement surpasses it.

Without artificial light, mankind would be comparatively inactive about one half its lifetime. To-day it has been fairly well established that the human organism can flourish on eight hours' sleep in a period of twenty-four hours. Another eight hours spent in work should settle man's obligation to the world. The remaining hours should be his own. Artificial light has made such a distribution of time possible. The working-periods in many cases may be arranged in the interests of economy, which often means continuous operations. The sun need not be considered when these operations are confined to interiors or localized outdoors.

Thus, artificial light has been an important factor in the great industrial development of the present time. Man now burrows into the earth, navigates under water, travels upon the surface of land and sea, and soars among the clouds piloted by light of his own making. Progress does not halt at sunset but continues twenty-four hours each day. Building, printing, manufacturing, commerce, and other activities are prosecuted continuously, the working-shifts changing at certain periods regardless of the rising or setting sun. Adequate artificial lighting decreases spoilage, increases production, and is a powerful factor in the prevention of industrial accidents.

It has ever been true since the advent of artificial light that the intellect has been largely nourished after the completion of the day's work. The highly developed artificial lighting of the present time may account for much of the vast industry of publication. Books, magazines, and newspapers owe much to convenient and inexpensive artificial light, for without it fewer hours would be available for recreation and advancement through reading. Schools, libraries, and art museums may be attended at night for the betterment of the human race. The immortal Lincoln, it is said, gained his early education largely by the light of the fireplace. But all were not endowed with the persistence of Lincoln, so that illiteracy was more common in his day than in the present age of adequate illumination.

The theatrical stage not only depends for its effectiveness upon artificial light but owes its existence and development largely to this agency. In the moving-picture theater, pictures are projected upon the screen by means of it and even the production of the pictures is independent of daylight. These and a vast number of recreational activities owe much, and in some cases their existence, to artificial light.

Not many centuries ago the streets at night were overrun by thieves and to venture outdoors after dark was to court robbery and even bodily harm. In these days of comparative safety it is difficult to realize the influence that abundant illumination has had in increasing the safety of life and property. Maeterlinck in his poetical drama, "The Bluebird," appropriately has made Light the faithful companion of mankind. The Palace of Night, into which Light is not permitted to enter, is the abode of many evils. Thus the poet has played upon the primitive instincts of the impressiveness of light and darkness.

By combining the symbolism of light, color, and darkness with the instincts which have been inherited by mankind from its superstitious ancestry of the age of mythology, another field of application of artificial light is opened. Light has gradually assumed such attributes as truth, knowledge, progress, enlightenment. Throughout the early ages light was more or less worshiped and thus artificial lights became woven in many religious ceremonies. Some of these have persisted to the present time. The great pageants of peace celebrations and world's expositions appropriately feature artificial light. In drawing upon the potentiality of the expressiveness and impressiveness of light and color, artificial light is playing a major part. Doubtless the future generations will be entertained by gorgeous symphonies of light. Experiments are performed in this direction now and then, and it is reasonable to expect that after many centuries of cultivation of the appreciation of light-symphonies, these will take a place among the arts. The elaborate and complicated music of the present time is appreciated by civilized nations only after many centuries of slow cultivation of taste and understanding.

Light-therapy is to-day a distinct science and art. The germicidal action of light-rays and of some of the invisible rays which ordinarily accompany the luminous rays is well proved. Wounds are treated effectively and water is sterilized by the ultraviolet radiant energy in modern artificial illuminants.

Thousands of lighthouses, light-ships, and light-buoys are scattered along sea-coasts, rivers, and channels. They guide the wheelman and warn the lookout of shoals and reefs. Some of these send forth flashes of light whose intensities are measured in millions of candle-power. Many are unattended for days and even months. These powerful lights dominated by automatic mechanisms have replaced the wood-fires which were maintained a few centuries ago upon certain prominent points.

Signal-lights now guide the railroad train through the night. A burning flare dropped from the rear of a train keeps the following train at a safe distance. Huge search-lights penetrate the night air for many miles. When these are equipped with shutters, a code may be flashed from one ship to another or between the vessel and land. A code from a powerful search-light has been read a hundred miles away because the flashes were projected upon a layer of high clouds and were thus visible far beyond the horizon.

Artificial light played its part in the recent war. Huge search-light equipments were devised for portability. This mobile apparatus was utilized against enemy aircraft and in various other ways. Small hand-lamps are used to send out a pencil of light as directed by a pair of sights and the code is flashed by means of a trigger. Raiding-parties are no longer concealed by the curtain of darkness, for rockets and star-shells are used to illuminate large areas. Flares sent upward to drift slowly downward supported by parachutes saved and cost many lives during the recent war. Rockets are used by ships in distress and also by beleaguered troops.

Experiments are being prosecuted to ascertain the possibilities of artificial light in the forcing of plant-growth, and even chickens are made to work longer hours by its use.

Artificial light is now modified in color or spectral character to meet many requirements. Daylight has been reproduced in spectral quality so that certain processes requiring accurate discrimination of color are now prosecuted twenty-four hours a day under artificial daylight. Colored light is made of the correct quality which does not affect photographic plates of various sensibilities. Monochromatic light is utilized in photo-micrography for the best rendition of detail. Light-waves have been utilized as standards of length because they are invariable and fundamental. Numerous other interesting adaptations of artificial light are in daily use.

This is in reality the age of artificial light, for mankind has not only become independent of daylight in certain respects, but has improved upon natural light. The controllability of artificial light makes it superior to natural light in many ways. In fact, uses have been made of artificial light which are impossible with natural light. Light-sources may be made of a vast variety of shapes, and those may be transported wherever desired. They may be equipped with reflectors and other optical devices to direct or to diffuse the light as required.

Thus, artificial light to-day has numerous advantages over light which has been furnished by the Creator. It is sometimes stated that it can never compete with daylight in cheapness, inasmuch as the latter costs nothing. But this is not true. Even in the residence, daylight costs something, because windows are more expensive than plain walls. The expense of washing windows is an appreciable percentage of the cost of gas or electricity. And there is window-breakage to be considered.

In the more elaborate buildings of the congested portions of cities, daylight is satisfactory a lesser number of hours than in the outlying districts. In some stores, offices, and factories artificial light is used throughout the day. Still, the daylighting-equipment is installed and maintained. Furthermore, when it is considered that much expensive area is given to light-courts and much valuable wall space to windows, it is seen that the cost of daylight in congested cities is in reality considerable. Of course, the daylighting-equipment has value in ventilating, but ventilation may be taken care of in a very satisfactory manner as a separate problem.

The cost of skylights in museums and other large buildings is far greater than that of ordinary ceilings and walls, and the extra allowance for heating is appreciable. The expense of maintenance of some skylights is considerable. Thus it is seen that the cost and maintenance of daylighting-equipment, the loss of valuable rental space and of wall area, and the increased expense of heating are factors which challenge the statement that daylight costs nothing. In fact, it is not surprising to find that occasionally the elimination of daylighting—the reliance upon artificial light alone—has been seriously contemplated. When the possibilities of the latter are considered, it is reasonable to expect that it will make greater and greater inroads and that many buildings of the future will be equipped solely with artificial-lighting systems.

Naturally, with the tremendous development of artificial light during the present age, a new profession has arisen. The lighting expert is evolving to fill the needs. He is studying the problems of producing and utilizing artificial illumination. He deals with the physics of light-production. His studies of utilization carry him into the vast fields of physiology and psychology. His is a profession which eventually will lead into numerous highways and byways of enterprise, because the possibilities of lighting extend into all those activities which make their appeal to consciousness through the doorway of vision. These possibilities are limited only by the boundaries of human endeavor and in the broadest sense extend even beyond them, for light is one of the most prominent agencies in the scheme of creation. It contributes largely to the safety, the efficiency, and the happiness of civilized beings and beyond all it is a powerful civilizing agency.



Scattered over the earth at the present time various stages of civilization are to be found, from the primitive savages to the most highly cultivated peoples. Although it is possible that there are tribes of lowly beings on earth to-day unfamiliar with fire or ignorant of its uses, savages are generally able to make fire. Thus the use of fire may serve the purpose of distinguishing human beings from the lower animals. Surely the savage of to-day who is unable to kindle fire or who possesses a mind as yet insufficiently developed to realize its possibilities, is quite at the mercy of nature's whims. He lives merely by animal prowess and differs little in deeds and needs from the beasts of the jungle. In this imaginary journey to the remote regions beyond the outskirts of civilization it soon becomes evident that the development of artificial light may be a fair measure of civilization.

In viewing the development of artificial light it is seen that preceding the modern electrical age, man depended universally upon burning material. Obviously, the course of civilization has been highly complex and cannot be symbolized adequately by the branching tree. From its obscure beginning far in the impenetrable fog of prehistoric times, it has branched here and there. These various branches have been subjected to many different influences, with the result that some flourished and endured, some retrogressed, some died, some went to seed and fell to take root and to begin again the upward climb. The ultimate result is the varied civilization of the present time, a study of which aids in penetrating the veil that obscures the ages of unrecorded writing. Likewise, material relics of bygone ages supply some threads of the story of human progress and mythology aids in spanning the misty gap between the earliest ages of man and the period when historic writings were begun. Throughout these various stages it becomes manifest that the development of artificial light is associated with the progress of mankind.

According to a certain myth, Prometheus stole fire from heaven and brought this blessing to earth. Throughout the mythologies of various races, fire and, as a consequence, light have been associated with divinity. They have been subjects of worship perhaps more generally than anything else, and these early impressions have survived in the ceremonial uses of light and fire even to the present time. The origin of fire as represented in any of the myths of the superstitious beings of early ages is as suitable as any other, inasmuch as definite knowledge is unavailable. Active volcanoes, spontaneous combustion, friction, accidental focusing of the sun's image, and other means may have introduced primitive beings to fire. A study of savage tribes of the present age combined with a survey of past history of mythology, of material relics, and of the absence of lamps or other lighting utensils leads to the conclusion that the earliest source of light was the wood fire.

Even to-day the savages of remote lands have not advanced further than the wood-fire stage, and they may be found kneeling upon the ground energetically but skilfully rubbing sticks together until the friction kindles a fire. In using these fire-sticks they convert mechanical energy into heat energy. This is a fundamental principle of physics, employed by them as necessity demands, but they are totally ignorant of it as a scientific law. The things which these savages learn are the result of accidental discovery. Until man pondered over such simple facts and cooerdinated them so that he could extend his knowledge by general reasoning, his progress could not be rapid. But the sluggish mind of primitive man is capable of devising improvements, however slowly, and the art of making fire by means of rubbing fire-sticks gradually became more refined. Mechanical improvements resulted from experience, with the consequence that finally one stick was rubbed to and fro in a groove, or was rapidly twirled between the palms of the hands while one end was pressed firmly into a hole in a piece of wood. In the course of a few seconds or a minute, depending upon skill and other conditions, a fire was obtained. It is interesting to note how civilized man is often compelled by necessity to adopt the methods of primitive beings. The rubbing of sticks is an emergency measure of the master of woodcraft at the present time, and the production of fire in this manner is the proud accomplishment or ambition of every Boy Scout.

Where only such crude means of kindling fire were available it became the custom in some cases to maintain a fire burning continuously in a public place. Around this pyrtaneum the various civil, political, and religious affairs were carried on by the light and warmth of the public fire. Many quaint customs evolved, apparently, from this ancient procedure.

The tinder-box of modern centuries doubtless originated in very early times, for it is inconceivable that the earliest beings did not become aware of the production of sparks when certain stones were struck together. In the stone age, when human beings spent much of their time chiseling implements and utensils from stone by means of tools of the same substance, it appears certain that this means of producing fire was ever apparent. Many of their sharp implements, such as knives and arrow-heads, were made of quartz and similar material and it is likely that the use of two pieces of quartz for producing a spark originated in those remote periods. Alaskan and Aleutian tribes are known to have employed two pieces of quartz covered with native sulphur. When these were struck together with skill, excellent sparks were obtained.

Later, when iron and steel became available, the more modern tinder-box was developed. An early application of the flint-and-steel principle was made by certain Esquimo tribes who obtained fire by striking a piece of quartz against a piece of iron pyrites. The latter is a yellow sulphide of iron, of crystalline form, best known as "fool's gold." Doubtless, the more primitive beings used dried grass, leaves, and moss as inflammable material upon which the sparks were showered. In later centuries the tinder-box was filled with charred grass, linen, and paper. There was a long interval between the development of fire-sticks and that of the tinder-box as measured by the progress of civilization. During recent centuries ordinary brown paper soaked in saltpeter and dried was utilized satisfactorily as an inflammable material. Such devices have been employed in past ages in widely separated regions of the earth. Elaborate specimens of tinder-boxes from Jamaica, Japan, China, Europe, and various other countries are now reposing in the collections in the possession of museums and of individuals.

If the radiant energy from the sun is sufficiently concentrated upon inflammable material, the latter will ignite. Such concentration may be achieved by means of a convex lens or a concave mirror. This method of producing fire does not antedate the more primitive methods such as striking quartz or rubbing wooden sticks, because the materials required are not readily found or prepared, but it is of very remote origin. Aristophanes in his comedy "The Clouds," which is a satire aimed at the science and philosophy of his period (488-385 B. C.), mentions the "burning lens." Nearly every one is familiar with an achievement attributed to Archimedes in which he destroyed the ships at Syracuse by focusing the image of the sun upon them by means of a concave mirror. The ancient Egyptians were proficient in the art of glass-making, so it is likely that the "burning-glass" was employed by them. Even a crude lens of glass will focus an image of the sun sufficiently well to cause inflammable material to ignite.

The energy in sunlight varies enormously, even on clear days, because the water-vapor in the atmosphere absorbs some of the radiant energy emitted by the sun. This absorbed radiation is chiefly known as infra-red energy, which does not arouse the sensation of light. When the water-vapor content of the atmosphere is high, the sun, though it may appear as bright to the eye, in reality is not as hot as it would be if the water-vapor were not present. However, a fire may be kindled by concentrating only the visible rays in sunlight because of the enormous intensity of sunlight. A convex lens fashioned from ice by means of a sharp-edged stone and finally shaped by melting the surfaces as they are rubbed in the palms of the hands, will kindle a fire in highly inflammable material if the sun is high and the atmosphere is fairly clear. Burning-glasses are used to a considerable extent at the present time in certain countries and it is reported that British soldiers were supplied with them during the Boer War. Indicative of the predominant use to which the glass lens was applied in the past is the employment of the term "burning-glass" instead of lens in the scientific writings as late as a century or two ago.

As civilization advanced, leading intellects began to inquire into the mysteries of nature and the periods of pure philosophy gave way to an era of methodical research. Alchemy and superstition began to retire before the attacks of those pioneers who had the temerity to believe that the scheme of creation involved a vast network of invariable laws. In this manner the powerful sciences of physics and chemistry were born a few centuries ago. Among other things the production of fire and light received attention and the "dark ages" were doomed to end. The crude, uncertain, and inconvenient methods of making fire were replaced by steadily improving scientific devices.

Matches were at first cumbersome, dangerous, and expensive, but these gradually evolved into the safety matches of the present time. Although they were primarily intended for lighting fires and various kinds of lamps, billions of them are now used yearly as convenient light-sources. Smoldering hemp or other material treated with niter and other substances was an early form of match used especially for discharging firearms. The modern wax-taper is an evolutionary form of this type of light-source.

Phosphorus has long played a dominant role in the preparation of matches. The first attempt at making them in their modern form appears to have occurred about 1680. Small pieces of phosphorus were used in connection with small splints of wood dipped in sulphur. This type of match did not come into general use until after the beginning of the nineteenth century, owing to its danger and expense. White or yellow phosphorus is a deadly poison; therefore the progress of the phosphorus match was inhibited until the discovery of the relatively harmless form known as red phosphorus. The first commercial application of this form was made in about 1850.

An early ingenious device consisted of a piece of phosphorus contained in a tube. A piston fitted snugly into the tube, by means of which the air could be compressed and the phosphorus ignited. Sulphur matches were ignited from the burning tinder, the latter being fired by flint and steel. In 1828 another form of match consisted of a glass tube containing sulphuric acid and surrounded by a mixture of chlorate of potash and sugar. A pair of nippers was supplied with each box of these "matches," by means of which the tip of the glass tube could be broken off. This liberated the acid, which upon mixing with the other ingredients set fire to them. To this contrivance a roll of paper was attached which was ignited by the burning chemicals.

The lucifer or friction matches appeared in about 1827, but successful phosphorus matches were first made in about 1833. The so-called safety match of the present time was invented in the year 1855. To-day, the total daily output of matches reaches millions and perhaps billions. Automatic machinery is employed in preparing the splints of wood and in dipping them into molten paraffin wax and finally into the igniting composition.

During recent years the principle of the tinder-box has been revived in a device in which sparks are produced by rubbing the mineral cerite (a hydrous silicate of cerium and allied metals) against steel. These sparks ignite a gas-jet or a wick soaked in a highly inflammable liquid such as gasolene or alcohol. This device is a tinder-box of the modern scientific age.

Naturally with the advent of electricity, electrical sparks came into use for lighting gas-jets and mantles and in isolated instances they have served as light-sources. Doubtless, every one is familiar with the parlor stunt of igniting a gas-jet from the discharge from the finger-tips of static electricity accumulated by shuffling the feet across the floor-rug.

Although many of these methods and devices have been used primarily for making fire, they have served as emergency or momentary light-sources. In the outskirts of civilization some of them are employed at the present time and various modern light-sources require a method of ignition.



Many are familiar with the light of the firefly or of its larvae, the glow-worm, but few persons realize that a vast number of insects and lower organisms are endowed with the superhuman ability of producing light by physiological processes. Apparently the chief function of these lighting-plants within the living bodies is not to provide light in the sense that the human being uses it predominantly. That is, these wonderful light-sources seem to be utilized more for signaling, for luring prey, and for protection than for strictly illuminating-purposes. Much study has been given to the production of light by animals, because the secrets will be extremely valuable to mankind. As one floats over tide-water on a balmy evening after dark and watches the pulsating spots of phosphorescent light emitted by the lowly jellyfishes, his imaginative mood formulates the question, "Why are these lowly organisms endowed with such a wonderful ability?"

Despite his highly developed mind and body and his boasted superiority, man must go forth and learn the secrets of light-production before he may emancipate himself from darkness. If man could emit light in relative proportion to his size as compared with the firefly, he would need no other torch in the coal-mine. How independent he would be in extreme darkness where his adapted eyes need only a feeble light-source! Primitive man, desiring a light-source and having no means of making fire, imprisoned the glowing insects in a perforated gourd or receptacle of clay, and thus invented the first lantern perhaps before he knew how to make fire. The fireflies of the West Indies emit a continuous glow of considerable luminous intensity and the natives have used these imprisoned insects as light-sources. Thus mankind has exhibited his superiority by adapting the facilities at hand to the growing requirements which his independent nature continuously nourished. His insistent demand for independence in turn has nourished his desire to learn nature's secrets and this desire has increased in intensity throughout the ages.

The act of imprisoning a glowing insect was in itself no greater stride along the highway of progress than the act of picking a tasty fruit from its tree. However, the crude lantern perhaps directed his primitive mind to the possibilities of artificial light. The flaming fagot from the fire was the ancestor of the oil-lamp, the candle, the lantern, and the electric flash-light. It is a matter of conjecture how much time elapsed before his feeble intellect became aware that resinous wood afforded a better light-source than woods which were less inflammable. Nevertheless, pine knots and similar resinous pieces of wood eventually were favored as torches and their use has persisted until the present time. In some instances in ancient times resin was extracted from wood and burned in vessels. This was the forerunner of the grease-and the oil-lamp. In the woods to-day the craftsman of the wilds keeps on the lookout for live trees saturated with highly inflammable ingredients.

Viewed from the present age, these smoking, flickering light-sources appear very crude; nevertheless they represent a wide gulf between their users and those primitive beings who were unacquainted with the art of making fire. Although the wood fire prevailed as a light-source throughout uncounted centuries, it was subjected to more or less improvement as civilization advanced. When the wood fire was brought indoors the day was extended and early man began to develop his crude arts. He thought and planned in the comfort and security of his cave or hut. By the firelight he devised implements and even decorated his stone surroundings with pictures which to-day reveal something of the thoughts and activities of mankind during a civilization which existed many thousand years ago.

When it was too warm to have a roaring fire upon the hearth, man devised other means for obtaining light without undue warmth. He placed glowing embers upon ledges in the walls, upon stone slabs, or even upon suspended devices of non-inflammable material. Later he split long splinters of wood from pieces selected for their straightness of grain. These burning splinters emitting a smoking, feeble light were crude but they were refinements of considerable merit. A testimonial of their satisfactoriness is their use throughout many centuries. Until very recent times the burning splinter has been in use in Scotland and in other countries, and it is probable that at present in remote districts of highly civilized countries this crude device serves the meager needs of those whose requirements have been undisturbed by the progress of civilization. Scott, in "The Legend of Montrose," describes a table scene during a feast. Behind each seat a giant Highlander stood, holding a blazing torch of bog-pine. This was also the method of lighting in the Homeric age.

Crude clay relics representing a human head, from the mouth of which the wood-splinters projected, appear to corroborate the report that the flaming splinter was sometimes held in the mouth in order that both hands of a workman would be free. Splinter-holders of many types have survived, but most of them are of the form of a crude pedestal with a notch or spring clip at its upper end. The splinter was held in this clip and burned for a time depending upon its length and the character of the wood. It was the business of certain individuals to prepare bundles of splinters, which in the later stages of civilization were sold at the market-place or from house to house. Those who have observed the frontiersman even among civilized races will be quite certain that the wood for splinters was selected and split with skill, and that the splinters were burned under conditions which would yield the most satisfactory light. It is a characteristic of those who live close to nature, and are thus limited in facilities, to acquire a surprising efficiency in their primitive activities.

An obvious step in the use of burning wood as a light-source was to place such a fire on a shelf or in a cavity in the wall. Later when metal was available, gratings or baskets were suspended from the ceiling or from brackets and glowing embers or flaming chips were placed upon them. Some of these were equipped with crude chimneys to carry away the smoke, and perhaps to increase the draft. In more recent centuries the first attempt at lighting outdoor public places was by means of metal baskets in which flaming wood emitted light. It was the duty of the watchman to keep these baskets supplied with pine knots. In early centuries street-lighting was not attempted, and no serious efforts worthy of consideration as adequate lighting were made earlier than about a century ago. As a consequence the "link-boy" came into existence. With flaming torch he would escort pedestrians to their homes on dark nights. This practice was in vogue so recently that the "link-boy" is remembered by persons still living. In England the profession appears to have existed until about 1840.

Somewhat akin to the wood-splinter, and a forerunner of the candle, was the rushlight. In burning wood man noticed that a resinous or fatty material increased the inflammability and added greatly to the amount of light emitted. It was a logical step to try to reproduce this condition by artificial means. As a consequence rushes were cut and soaked in water. They were then peeled, leaving lengths of pith partially supported by threads of the skin which were not stripped off. These sticks of pith were placed in the sun to bleach and to dry, and after they were thoroughly dry they were dipped in scalding grease, which was saved from cooking operations or was otherwise acquired for the purpose. A reed two or three feet long held in the splinter-holder would burn for about an hour. Thus it is seen that man was beginning to progress in the development of artificial light. In developing the rushlight he was laying the foundation for the invention of the candle. Pliny has mentioned the burning of reeds soaked in oil as a feature of funeral rites. Many crude forerunners of the candle were developed in various parts of the world by different races. For example, the Malays made a torch by wrapping resinous gum in palm leaves, thus devising a crude candle with the wick on the outside.

Many primitive uses of vegetable and animal fats were forerunners of the oil-lamp. In the East Indies the candleberry, which contains oily seeds, has been burned for light by the natives. In many cases burning fish and birds have served as lamps. In the Orkney Islands the carcass of a stormy petrel with a wick in its mouth has been utilized as a light-source, and in Alaska a fish in a split stick has provided a crude torch for the natives. These primitive methods of obtaining artificial light have been employed for centuries and many are in use at the present time among uncivilized tribes and even by civilized beings in the remote outskirts of civilization. Surely progress is limited where a burning fish serves as a torch, or where, at best, the light-sources are feeble, smoking, flickering, and ill-smelling!

Progress insisted upon a light-source which was free from the defects of the crude devices already described and the next developments were improvements to the extent at least that combustion was more thorough. The early oil-lamps and candles did not emit much smoke, but they were still feeble light-sources and not always without noticeable odors. Nevertheless, they marked a tremendous advance in the production of artificial light. Although they were not scientific developments in the modern sense, the early oil-lamp and the candle represented the great possibilities of utilizing knowledge rather than depending upon the raw products of nature in unmodified forms. The advent of these two light-sources in reality marked the beginning of the civilization which was destined to progress and survive.

Although such primitive light-sources as the flaming splinter and the glowing ember have survived until the present age, lamps consisting of a wick dipped into a receptacle containing animal and vegetable oils have been in use among the more advanced peoples since prehistoric times. Oil-lamps are to be seen in the earliest Roman illustrations. During the height of ancient civilization along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, elaborate lighting was effected by means of the shallow grease-or oil-lamp. It is difficult to estimate the age in which this form of light-source originated, but some lamps in existence in collections at the present time appear to have been made as early as four or five thousand years before the Christian era. It is noteworthy that such lamps did not differ materially in essential details from those in use as late as a few centuries ago.

At first the grease used was the crude fat from animals. Vegetable oils also were burned in the early lamps. The Japanese, for example, extracted oil from nuts. When the demands of civilization increased, extensive efforts were made to obtain the required fats and oils. Amphibious animals of the North and the huge mammals of the sea were slaughtered for their fat, and vegetable sources were cultivated. Later, sperm and colza were the most common oils used by the advanced races. The former is an animal oil obtained from the head cavities of the sperm-whale; the latter is a vegetable oil obtained from rape-seed. Mineral oil was introduced as an illuminant in 1853, and the modern lamp came into use.

The grease-and oil-lamps in general were of such a form that they could be carried with ease and they had flat bottoms so that they would rest securely. The simplest forms had a single wick, but in others many wicks dipped into the same receptacle. The early ones were of stone, but later, lamps were modeled from clay or terra cotta and finally from metals. They were usually covered and the wick projected through a hole in the top near the edge. Large stone vases filled with a hundred pounds of liquid fat are known to have been used in early times. As a part of the setting in the celebration of festivals the ancient nations of Asia and Africa placed along the streets bronze vases filled with liquid fat. The Esquimaux to-day use this form of lamp, in which whale-oil and seal blubber is the fuel. Incidentally, these lamps also supply the only artificial heat for their huts and igloos. The heat from these feeble light-sources and from their bodies keeps these natives of the arctics warm within the icy walls of their abodes.

Very beautiful oil-lamps of brass, bronze, and pewter evolved in such countries as Egypt. Many of these were designed for and used in religious ceremonies. The oil-lamps of China, Scotland, and other countries in later centuries were improved by the addition of a pan beneath the oil-receptacle, to catch drippings from the wick or oil which might run over during the filling. The Chinese lamps were sometimes made of bamboo, but the Scottish lamps were made of metal. A flat metal lamp, called a crusie, was one of the chief products of blacksmiths and was common in Scotland until the middle of the nineteenth century. This type of lamp was used by many nations and has been found in the catacombs of Rome. The crusie was usually suspended by an iron hook and the flow of oil to the wick could be regulated by tilting. The wick in the Scottish lamps consisted of the pith of rushes, cloth, or twisted threads. These early oil-lamps were almost always shallow vessels into which a short wick was dipped, and it was not until the latter part of the eighteenth century that other forms came into general use. The change in form was due chiefly to the introduction of scientific knowledge when mineral oil was introduced. As early as 1781 the burning of naptha obtained by distilling coal at low temperatures was first discussed, but no general applications were made until a later period. This was the beginning of many marked improvements in oil-lamps, and was in reality the birth of the modern science of light-production.

As the activities of man became more complex he met from his growing store of knowledge the increasing requirements of lighting. In consequence, many ingenious devices for lighting were evolved. For example, in England in the seventeenth century man was already burrowing into the earth for coal and of course encountered coal-gases. These inflammable gases were first known for the direful effects which they so often produced rather than for their useful qualities. Although they were known to miners long before they received scientific attention, the earliest account of them in the Transactions of the Royal Society was presented in the year 1667. A description of early gas-lighting has been reserved for a later chapter, but the foregoing is noted at this point to introduce a novel early method of lighting in coal-mines where inflammable gases were encountered. In discussing this coal-gas another early writer stated that "it will not take fire except by flame" and that "sparks do not affect it." One of the early solutions of the problem of artificial lighting under such conditions is summarized as follows:

Before the invention of Sir Humphrey Davy's Safety Lamp, this property of the gas gave rise to a variety of contrivances for affording the miners sufficient light to pursue their operations; and one of the most useful of these inventions was a mill for producing light by sparks elicited by the collision of flint and steel.

Such a stream of sparks may appear a very crude and unsatisfactory solution as judged by present standards, but it was at least an ingenious application of the facilities available at that time. Various other devices were resorted to in the coal-mines before the introduction of a safety lamp.

In discussing the candle it is necessary again to go back to an early period, for it slowly evolved in the course of many centuries. It is the natural descendant of the rushlight, the grease-lamp, and various primitive devices. Until the advent of the more scientific age of artificial lighting, the candle stood preeminent among early light-sources. It did not emit appreciable smoke or odor and it was conveniently portable and less fragile than the oil-lamp. Candles have been used throughout the Christian era and some authorities are inclined to attribute their origin to the Phoenicians. It is known that the Romans used them, especially the wax-candles, in religious ceremonies. The Phoenicians introduced them into Byzantium, but they disappeared under the Turkish rule and did not come into use again until the twelfth century.

The wax-candle was very much more expensive than the tallow-candle until the fifteenth century, when its relative cost was somewhat reduced, bringing it within the means of a greater proportion of the people. Nevertheless it has long been used, chiefly by the wealthy; the departing guest of the early Victorian inn would be likely to find an item on his bill such as this: "For a gentleman who called himself a gentleman, wax-lights, 5/." Poor men used tallow dips or went to bed in the dark. It is interesting to note the importance of the candle in the household budget of early times in various sayings. For example, "The game is not worth the candle," implies that the cost of candle-light was not ignored. In these days little attention is given to the cost of artificial light under similar conditions. If a person "burns a candle at both ends" he is wasteful and oblivious to the consequences of extravagance whether in material goods or in human energy.

With the rise of the Christian church, candles came to be used in religious ceremonies and many of the symbolisms, meanings, and customs survive to the present time. Some of the finest art of past centuries is found in the old candlesticks. Many of these antiques, which ofttimes were gifts to the church, have been preserved to posterity by the church. The influence of these lighting accessories is often noted in modern lighting-fixtures, but unfortunately early art often suffers from adaptation to the requirements of modern light-sources, or the eyesight suffers from a senseless devotion to art which results in the use of modern light-sources, unshaded and glaring, in places where it was unnecessary to shade the feeble candle.

The oldest materials employed for making candles are beeswax and tallow. The beeswax was bleached before use. The tallow was melted and strained and then cotton or flax fibers were dipped into it repeatedly, until the desired thickness was obtained. In early centuries the pith of rushes was used for wicks. Tallow is now used only as a source of stearine. Spermaceti, a fatty substance obtained from the sperm-whale, was introduced into candle-making in about 1750 and great numbers of men searched the sea to fill the growing demands. Paraffin wax, a mixture of solid hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum, came into use in 1854 and stearine is now used with it. The latter increases the rigidity and decreases the brittleness of the candle. Some of the modern candles are made of a mixture of stearine and the hard fat extracted from cocoanut-oil. Modern candles vary in composition, but all are the product of much experience and of the application of scientific knowledge. The wicks are now made chiefly of cotton yarn, braided or plaited by machinery and chemically treated to aid in complete combustion when the candle is burned. Their structure is the result of long experience and they are now made so that they bend and dip into the molten fuel and are wholly consumed. This eliminates the necessity of trimming.

Candles have been made in various ways, including dipping, pouring, drawing, and molding. Wax-candles are made by pouring, because wax cannot be molded satisfactorily. Drawing is somewhat similar to dipping, except that the process is more or less continuous and is carried out by machinery. Molding, as the term implies, involves the use of molds, of the size and shape desired.

The candlestick evolved from the most primitive wooden objects to elaborately designed and decorated works of art. The primitive candlestick was crude and was no more than a holder of some kind for keeping the candle upright. Later a form of cup was attached to the stem of the holder, to catch the dripping wax or fat. The latter improvement has persisted throughout the centuries. The modern candle is by no means an unsatisfactory light-source. Those who have had experience with it in the outskirts of civilization will testify that it possesses several desirable characteristics. Supplies of candles are transported without difficulty; the lighted candle is easily carried about; and the light in a quiescent atmosphere is quite satisfactory, if common sense is used in shading and placing the candle. Although in a sense a primitive light-source, it is a blessing in many cases and, incidentally, it is extensively used to-day in industries, in religious ceremonies, as a decorative element at banquets, and in the outposts of civilization.

This account of the evolution of light-sources has crossed the threshold of what may be termed modern scientific light-production in the case of the candle and the oil-lamp. There is a period of a century or more during which scientific progress was slow, but those years paved the way for the extraordinary developments of the last few decades.



Inasmuch as the symbolisms and ceremonial uses of light originated in the childhood of the human race and were nourished throughout the age of mythology, the early light-sources are associated more with this phase of artificial light than modern ones. For this reason it appears appropriate to present this discussion before entering into the later stages of the development and utilization of artificial light. Furthermore, many of the traditions of lighting at the present time are survivors of the early ages. Lighting-fixtures show the influence of this byway of lighting, and in those cases where the ceremonial use of light has survived to the present time, modern light-sources cannot be employed wisely in replacing more primitive ones without consideration of the origin and existence of the customs. In fact, candles are likely to be used for hundreds of years to come, owing to the sentiment connected with them and to the established customs founded upon centuries of traditional use.

Doubtless, the sun as a source of heat and light and of the blessings which these bring to earth, is responsible largely for the divine significance bestowed upon light. Darkness very deservingly acquired many uncomplimentary attributes, for danger lurked behind its veil and it was the suitable abode of evil spirits. It harbored all that was the antithesis of goodness, happiness, and security. Light naturally became sacred, life-giving, and symbolic of divine presence. Fire was to primitive beings the most impressive phenomenon over which they had any control, and it was sufficiently mysterious in its operation to warrant a connection with the supernatural. Thus it was very natural that these earlier beings worshiped it as representing divine presence. The sun, as Ra, was one of the chief gods of the ancient Egyptians; and the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the ancient Greeks, and many other early peoples gave a high place to this deity. Among simpler races the sun was often the sole object of worship, and those peoples who worship Light as the god of all, in a sense are not far afield. Fire-worshipers generally considered fire as the purest representation of heavenly fire, the origin of everything that lives.

Light was considered such a blessing that lamps were buried with the dead in order that spirits should be able to have it in the next world. This custom has prevailed widely but the fact that the lamps were unlighted indicates that only the material aspect was considered. It is interesting to note that the lamps and other light-sources in pagan temples and religious processions were not symbolical but were offerings to the gods. In later centuries a deeper symbolical meaning became attached to light and burning lamps were placed upon the tombs of important personages. The burying of lamps with the dead appears to have originated in Asia. The Phoenicians and Romans apparently continued the custom, but no traces of it have been found in Greece and Egypt.

Fire and light have been closely associated in various religious creeds and their ceremonies. The Hindu festival in honor of the goddess of prosperity is attended by the burning of many lamps in the temples and homes. The Jewish synagogues have their eternal lamps and in their rituals fire and light have played prominent roles. The devout Brahman maintains a fire on the hearth and worships it as omniscient and divine. He expects a brand from this to be used to light his funeral pyre, whose fire and light will make his spirit fit to enter his heavenly abode. He keeps a fire burning on the altar, worships Agni, the god of fire, and makes fire sacrifices on various occasions such as betrothals and marriages. To the Mohammedans lighted lamps symbolize holy places, and the Kaaba at Mecca, which contains a black stone supposed to have been brought from heaven, is illuminated by thousands of lamps. Many of the uses to which light was put in ancient times indicate its rarity and sacred nature. Doubtless, the increasing use of artificial light at festivals and celebrations of the present time is partly the result of lingering customs of bygone centuries and partly due to a recognition of an innate appeal or attribute of light. Certainly nothing is more generally appropriate in representing joy and prosperity.

Throughout all countries ancient races had woven natural light and fire into their rites and customs, so it became a natural step to utilize artificial light and fire in the same manner. It would be tedious and monotonous to survey the vast field of ancient worship of light, for the underlying ideas are generally similar. The mythology of the Greeks is illustrative of the importance attached to fire and light by the cultivated peoples of ancient times. The myth of Prometheus emphasizes the fact that in those remote periods fire and light were regarded as of prime importance. According to this myth, fire and light were contained in heaven and great cunning and daring were necessary in order to obtain it. Prometheus stole this heavenly fire, for which act he was chained to the mountain and made to suffer. The Greeks mark this event as the beginning of human civilization. All arts are traced to Prometheus, and all earthly woe likewise. As past history is surveyed it appears natural to think of scientific men who have become martyrs to the quest of hidden secrets. They have made great sacrifices for the future benefit of civilization and not a few of them have endured persecution even in recent times. The Greeks recognized that a new era began with the acquisition of artificial light. Its divine nature was recognized and it became a phenomenon for worship and a means for representing divine presence. The origin of fire and light made them holy. The fire on the altar took its place in religious rites and there evolved many ceremonial uses of lamps, candles, and fire.

The Greeks and Romans burned sacred lamps in the temples and utilized light and fire in many ceremonies. The torch-race, in which young men ran with lighted torches, the winner being the one who reached the goal first with his torch still alight, originated in a Grecian ceremony of lighting the sacred fire. There are many references in ancient Roman and Grecian literature to sacred lamps burning day and night in sanctuaries and before statues of gods and heroes. On birthdays and festivals the houses of the Romans were specially ornamented with burning lamps. The Vestal Virgins in Rome maintained the sacred fire which had been brought by fugitives from Troy. In ancient Rome when the fire in the Temple of Vesta became extinguished, it was rekindled by the rubbing of a piece of wood upon another until fire was obtained. This was carried into the temple by the Vestal Virgin and the sacred fire was rekindled. The fire produced in this manner, for some reason, was considered holy.

The early peoples displayed many lamps on feast-days and an example of extravagance in this respect is an occasion when King Constantine commanded that the entire city of Constantinople be illuminated by wax-candles on Christmas Eve. Candelabra, of the form of the branching tree, were commonly in use in the Roman temples.

The ceremonial use of light in the Christian church evolved both from adaptations of pagan customs and of the natural symbolisms of fire and light. However, these acquired a deeper meaning in Christianity than in early times because they were primarily visible representations or manifestations of the divine presence. The Bible contains many references to the importance and symbolisms of light and fire. According to the First Book of Moses, the achievement of the Creator immediately following the creation of "the heavens and the earth" was the creation of light. The word "light" is the forty-sixth word in Genesis. Christ is "the true light" and Christians are "children of light" in war against the evil "powers of darkness." When St. Paul was converted "there shined about him a great light from heaven." The impressiveness and symbolism of fire and light are testified to in many biblical expressions. Christ stands "in the midst of seven candle-sticks" with "his eyes as a flame of fire." When the Holy Ghost appeared before the apostles "there appeared unto them cloven tongues of fire." When St. Paul was preaching the gospel of Christ at Alexandria "there were many lights" suggesting a festive illumination.

According to the Bible, the perpetual fire which came originally from heaven was to be kept burning on the altar. It was holy and those whose duty it was to keep it burning were guilty of a grave offense if they allowed it to be extinguished. If human hands were permitted to kindle it, punishment was meted out. The two sons of Aaron who "offered strange fire before the Lord" were devoured by "fire from the Lord." The seven-branched candlestick was lighted eternally and these burning light-sources were necessary accompaniments of worship.

The countless ceremonial uses of fire and light which had evolved in the past centuries were bound to influence the rites and customs of the Christian church. The festive illumination of pagan temples in honor of gods was carried over into the Christian era. The Christmas tree of to-day is incomplete without its many lights. Its illumination is a homage of light to the source of light. The celebration of Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is a typical example of fire-worship retained from ancient times. At the climax of the services comes the descent of the Holy Fire. The central candelabra suddenly becomes ablaze and the worshipers, each of whom carries a wax taper, light their candles therefrom and rush through the streets. The fire is considered to be of divine origin and is a symbol of resurrection. The custom is similar in meaning to the light which in older times was maintained before gods.

During the first two or three centuries of the Christian era the ceremonial use of light does not appear to have been very extensive. Writings of the period contain statements which appear to ridicule this use to some extent. For example, one writer of the second century states that "On days of rejoicing ... we do not encroach upon daylight with lamps." Another, in the fourth century, refers with sarcasm to the "heathen practice" in this manner: "They kindle lights as though to one who is in darkness. Can he be thought sane who offers the light of lamps and candles to the Author and Giver of all light?"

That candles were lighted in cemeteries is evidenced by an edict which forbade their use during the day. Lamps of the early centuries of the Christian era have been found in the catacombs of Rome which are thought to have been ceremonial lamps, for they were not buried with the dead. They were found only in niches in the walls. During these same centuries elaborate candelabra containing hundreds of candles were kept burning before the tombs of saints. Notwithstanding the doubt that exists as to the extent of ceremonial lighting in the early centuries of the Christian era, it is certain that by the beginning of the fifth century the ceremonial use of light in the Christian church had become very extensive and firmly established. That this is true and that there were still some objections is indicated by many controversies. Some thought that lamps before tombs were ensigns of idolatry and others felt that no harm was done if religious people thus tried to honor martyrs and saints. Some early writings convey the idea that the ritualistic use of lights in the church arose from the retention of lights necessary at nocturnal services after the hours of worship had been changed to daytime.

Passing beyond the early controversial period, the ceremonial use of light is everywhere in evidence at ordinary church services. On special occasions such as funerals, baptisms, and marriages, elaborate altar-lighting was customary. The gorgeous candelabra and the eternal lamp are noted in many writings. Early in the fifth century the pope ordered that candles be blessed and provided rituals for this ceremony. Shortly after this the Feast of Purification of the Virgin was inaugurated and it became known as Candlemas because on this day the candles for the entire year were blessed. However, it appears that the blessing of candles was not carried out in all churches. Altar lights were not generally used until the thirteenth century. They were originally the seven candles carried by church officials and placed near the altar.

The custom of placing lighted lamps before the tombs of martyrs was gradually extended to the placing of such lamps before various objects of a sacred or divine relation. Finally certain light-sources themselves became objects of worship and were surrounded by other lamps, and the symbolisms of light grew apace. A bishop in the sixth century heralded the triple offering to God represented by the burning wax-candle. He pointed out that the rush-wick developed from pure water; that the wax was the product of virgin bees; and that the flame was sent from heaven. Each of these, he was certain, was an offering acceptable to God. Wax-candles became associated chiefly with religious ceremonies. The wax later became symbolic of the Blessed Virgin and of the body of Christ. The wick was symbolical of Christ's soul, the flame represented his divine character, and the burning candle thus became symbolical of his death. The lamp, lantern, and taper are frequently symbols of piety, heavenly wisdom, or spiritual light. Fire and flames are emblems of zeal and fervor or of the sufferings of martyrdom and the flaming heart symbolizes fervent piety and spiritual or divine love.

By the time the Middle Ages were reached the ceremonial uses of light became very complex, but for the Roman Catholic Church they may be divided into three general groups: (1) They were symbolical of God's presence or of the effect of his presence; of Christ or of "the children of light"; or of joy and content at festivals. (2) They may be offered in fulfillment of a religious vow; that is, as an act of worship. (3) They may possess certain divine power because of their being blessed by the church, and therefore may be helpful to soul and body. The three conceptions are indicated in the prayers offered at the blessing of the candles on Candlemas as follows: (1) "O holy Lord ... who ... by thy command didst cause this liquid to come by the labor of bees to the perfection of wax, ... we beseech thee ... to bless and sanctify these candles for the use of men, and the health of bodies and souls...." (2) "...these candles, which we thy servants desire to carry lighted to magnify thy name; that by offering them to thee, being worthily inflamed with the holy fire of thy most sweet charity, we may deserve...." (3) "O Lord Jesus Christ, the true light, ... mercifully grant, that as these lights enkindled with visible fire dispel nocturnal darkness, so our hearts illuminated by visible fire," etc.

In general, the ceremonial uses of lights in this church were originated as a forceful representation of Christ and of salvation. On the eve of Easter a new fire, emblematic of the arisen Christ, is kindled, and all candles throughout the year are lighted from this. During the service of Holy Week thirteen lighted candles are placed before the altar and as the penitential songs are sung they are extinguished one by one. When but one remains burning it is carried behind the altar, thus symbolizing the last days of Christ on earth. It is said that this ceremony has been traced to the eighth century. On Easter Eve, after the new fire is lighted and blessed, certain ceremonies of light symbolize the resurrection of Christ. From this new fire three candles are lighted and from these the Paschal Candle. The origin of the latter is uncertain, but it symbolizes a victorious Christ. From it all the ceremonial lights of the church are lighted and they thereby are emblematic of the presence of the light of Christ.

Many interesting ceremonial uses may be traced out, but space permits a glimpse of only a few. At baptismal services the paschal candle is dipped into the water so that the latter will be effective as a regenerative element. The baptized child is reborn as a child of light. Lighted candles are placed in the hands of the baptized persons or of their god-parents. Those about to take vows carry lights before the church official and the same idea is attached to the custom of carrying or of holding lights on other occasions such as weddings and first communion. Lights are placed around the bodies of the dead and are carried at the funeral. They not only protect the dead from the powers of darkness but they symbolize the dead as still living in the light of Christ. The use of lighted candles around bodies of the dead still survives to some extent among Protestants, but their significance has been lost sight of. Even in the eighteenth century funerals in England were accompanied by lighted tapers, but the carrying of lights in other processions appears to have ceased with the Reformation. In some parts of Scotland it is still the custom to place two lighted candles on a table beside a corpse on the day of the funeral.

With the importance of light in the ritual of the church it is not surprising that the extinction of lights is a part of the ceremony of excommunication. Such a ceremony is described in an early writing thus: "Twelve priests should stand about the bishop, holding in their hands lighted torches, which at the conclusion of the anathema or excommunication they should cast down and trample under foot." When the excommunicant is reinstated, a lighted candle is placed in his hands as a symbol of reconciliation. These and many other ceremonial uses of light have been and are practised, but they are not always mandatory. Furthermore, the customs have varied from time to time, but the few which have been touched upon illustrate the impressive part that light has played in religious services.

During the Reformation the ceremonial use of lights was greatly altered and was abolished in the Protestant churches as a relic of superstition and papal authority. In the Lutheran churches ceremonial lights were largely retained, in the Church of England they have been subjected to many changes largely through the edicts of the rulers. In the latter church many controversies were waged over ceremonial lights and their use has been among the indictments of a number of officials of the church in impeachment cases before the House of Commons. Many uses of light in religious ceremonies were revived in cathedrals after the Restoration and they became wide-spread in England in the nineteenth century. As late as 1889 the Archbishop of Canterbury ruled that certain ceremonial candles were lawful according to the Prayer-Book of Edward VI, but the whole question was left open and unsettled.

These byways of artificial light are complex and fascinating because their study leads into many channels and far into the obscurity of the childhood of the human race. A glimpse of them is important in a survey of the influence of artificial light upon the progress of civilization because in these usages the innate and acquired impressiveness of light is encountered. Although many ceremonial uses of light remain, it is doubtful if their significance and especially their origin are appreciated by most persons. Nevertheless, no more interesting phase of artificial light is encountered than this, which reaches to the foundation of civilization.



It will be noted that the light-sources throughout the early ages were flames, the result of burning material. This principle of light-production has persisted until the present time, but in the latter part of the nineteenth century certain departures revolutionized artificial lighting. However, it is not the intention to enter the modern period in this chapter except in following the progress of the oil-lamp through its period of scientific development. The oil-lamp and the candle were the mainstays of artificial lighting throughout many centuries. The fats and waxes which these light-sources burned were many but in the later centuries they were chiefly tallow, sperm-oil, spermaceti, lard-oil, olive-oil, colza-oil, bees-wax and vegetable waxes. Those fuels which are not liquid are melted to liquid form by the heat of the flame before they are actually consumed. The candle is of the latter type and despite its present lowly place and its primitive character, it is really an ingenious device. Its fuel remains conveniently solid so that it is readily shipped and stored; there is nothing to spill or to break beyond easy repair; but when it is lighted the heat of its flame melts the solid fuel and thus it becomes an "oil-lamp." Animal and vegetable oils were mainly used until the middle of the nineteenth century, when petroleum was produced in sufficient quantities to introduce mineral oils. This marked the beginning of an era of developments in oil-lamps, but these were generally the natural offspring of early developments by Ami Argand.

Before man discovered that nature had stored a tremendous supply of mineral oil in the earth he was obliged to hunt broadcast for fats and waxes to supply him with artificial light. He also was obliged to endure unpleasant odors from the crude fuels and in early experiments with fats and waxes the odor was carefully noted as an important factor. Tallow was a by-product of the kitchen or of the butcher. Stearine, a constituent of tallow, is a compound of glyceryl and stearic acid. It is obtained by breaking up chemically the glycerides of animal fats and separating the fatty acids from glycerin. Fats are glycerides; that is, combinations of oleic, palmetic, and stearic acids. Inasmuch as the former is liquid at ordinary temperatures and the others are solid, it follows that the consistency or solidity of fats depend upon the relative proportions of the three constituents. The sperm-whale, which lives in the warmer parts of all the oceans, has been hunted relentlessly for fuels for artificial lighting. In its head cavities sperm-oil in liquid form is found with the white waxy substance known as spermaceti. Colza-oil is yielded by rape-seed and olive-oil is extracted from ripe olives. The waxes are combinations of allied acids with bases somewhat related to glycerin but of complex composition. Fats and waxes are more or less related, but to distinguish them carefully would lead far afield into the complexities of organic chemistry. All these animal and vegetable products which were used as fuels for light-sources are rich in carbon, which accounts for the light-value of their flames. The brightness of such a flame is due to incandescent carbon particles, but this phase of light-production is discussed in another chapter. These oils, fats, and waxes are composed by weight of about 75 to 80 per cent. carbon; 10 to 15 per cent. hydrogen; and 5 to 10 per cent. oxygen.

Until the middle of the eighteenth century the oil-lamps were shallow vessels filled with animal or vegetable oil and from these reservoirs short wicks projected. The flame was feeble and smoky and the odors were sometimes very repugnant. Viewing such light-sources from the present age in which light is plentiful, convenient, and free from the great disadvantages of these early oil-lamps, it is difficult to imagine the possibility of the present civilization emerging from that period without being accompanied by progress in light-production. The improvements made in the eighteenth century paved the way for greater progress in the following century. This is the case throughout the ages, but there are special reasons for the tremendous impetus which light-production has experienced in the past half-century. These are the acquirement of scientific knowledge from systematic research and the application of this knowledge by organized development.

The first and most notable improvement in the oil-lamp was made by Argand in 1784. Our nation was just organizing after its successful struggle for independence at the time when the production of light as a science was born. Argand produced the tubular wick and contributed the greatest improvement by being the first to perform the apparently simple act of placing a glass chimney upon the lamp. His burner consisted of two concentric metal tubes between which the wick was located. The inner tube was open, so that air could reach the inner surface of the wick as well as the outer surface. The lamp chimney not only protected the flame from drafts but also improved combustion by increasing the supply of air. It rested upon a perforated flange below the burner. If the glass chimney of a modern kerosene lamp be lifted, it will be noted that the flame flickers and smokes and that it becomes steady and smokeless when the chimney is replaced. The advantages of such a chimney are obvious now, but Argand for his achievements is entitled to a place among the great men who have borne the torch of civilization. He took the first step toward adequate artificial light and opened a new era in lighting.

The various improvements of the oil-lamp achieved by Argand combined to effect complete combustion, with the result that a steady, smokeless lamp of considerable luminous intensity was for the first time available. Many developments followed, among which was a combination of reservoir and gravity feed which maintained the oil at a constant level. In later lamps, upon the adoption of mineral oil, this was found unnecessary, perhaps owing to the construction of the wick and to the physical characteristics of the oil which favored capillary action in the wick. However, the height of the oil in the reservoir of modern oil-lamps makes some difference in the amount of light emitted.

The Carcel lamp, which appeared in 1800, consisted of a double piston operated by clockwork. This forced the oil through a tube to the burner. Franchot invented the moderator lamp in 1836, which, because of its simplicity and efficiency soon superseded many other lamps designed for burning animal and vegetable oils. The chief feature of the moderator lamp is a spiral spring which forces the oil upward through a vertical tube to the burner. These are still used to some extent in France, but owing to the fact that "mechanical" lamps eventually were very generally replaced by more simple ones, it does not appear necessary to describe these complex mechanisms in detail.

When coal is distilled at moderate temperatures, volatile liquids are obtained. These hydrocarbons, being inflammable, naturally attracted attention when first known, and in 1781 their use as fuel for lamps was suggested. However, it was not until 1820 that the light oils obtained by distilling coal-tar, a by-product of the coal-gas industry which was then in its early stage of development, were burned to some extent in the Holliday lamp. In this lamp the oil is contained in a reservoir from the bottom of which a fine metal tube carries the oil down to a rose-burner. The oil is heated by the flame and the vaporized mineral oil which escapes through small orifices is burned. This type of lamp has undergone many physical changes, but its principle survives to the present time in the gasolene and kerosene burners hanging on a pole by the side of the street-peddler's stand.

Although petroleum products were not used to any appreciable extent for illuminating-purposes until after the middle of the nineteenth century, mineral oil is mentioned by Herodotus and other early writers. In 1847 petroleum was discovered in a coal-mine in England, but the supply failed in a short time. However, the discoverer, James Young, had found that this oil was valuable as a lubricant and upon the failure of this source he began experiments in distilling oil from shale found in coal deposits. These were destined to form the corner-stone of the oil industry in Scotland. In 1850 he began producing petroleum in this manner, but it was not seriously considered for illuminating-purposes. However, in Germany about this time lamps were developed for burning the lighter distillates and these were introduced into several countries. But the price of these lighter oils was so great that little progress was made until, in 1859, Col. E. L. Drake discovered oil in Pennsylvania. By studying the geological formations and concluding that oil should be obtained by boring, Drake gave to the world a means of obtaining petroleum, and in quantities which were destined to reduce the price of mineral oil to a level undreamed of theretofore. To his imagination, which saw vast reservoirs of oil in the depths of the earth, the world owes a great debt. Lamps were imported from Germany to all parts of the civilized world and the kerosene lamp became the prevailing light-source. Hundreds of American patents were allowed for oil-lamps and their improvements in the next decade.

The crude petroleum, of course, is not fit for illuminating purposes, but it contains components which are satisfactory. The various components are sorted out by fractional distillation and the oil for burning in lamps is selected according to its volatility, viscosity, stability, etc. It must not be so volatile as to have a dangerously low flashing-point, nor so stable as to hinder its burning well. In this fractional distillation a vast variety of products are now obtained. Gasolene is among the lighter products, with a density of about 0.65; kerosene has a density of about 0.80; the lubricating-oils from 0.85 to 0.95; and there are many solids such as vaseline and paraffin which are widely used for many purposes. This process of refining oils is now the source of paraffin for making candles, in which it is usually mixed with substances like stearin in order to raise its melting-point.

Crude petroleum possesses a very repugnant odor; it varies in color from yellow to black; and its specific gravity ranges from about 0.80 to 1.00, but commonly is between 0.80 and 0.90. Its chemical constitution is chiefly of carbon and hydrogen, in the approximate ratio of about six to one respectively. It is a mixture of paraffin hydrocarbons having the general formula of C_{n}H_{2n+2} and the individual members of this series vary from CH_{4} (methane) to C_{15}H_{32} (pentadecane), although the solid hydrocarbons are still more complex. Petroleum is found in many countries and the United States is particularly blessed with great stores of it.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse