Monday, February 16, 2009

Model Solar bicycle lamp

To a country that traveled largely by horse and by foot, the arrival of the bicycle from Europe in the late 1800s touched off a craze in America. The demand for personal modes of transportation fueled a new industry in the United States and paved the way for innovations in manufacturing that eventually resulted in the automotive and aeronautic industries.

From 1897 until 1926, the Badger Brass Manufacturing Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin produced the most popular bicycle light – a model it called the Solar. As many as two million Solar lights were produced. The rear compartment held water which was carried by a cotton wick to the lower compartment filled with calcium carbonate. This produced acetylene gas, which emitted a brilliant white light when lit.

The Solar and its many copycat competitors were noisy, smelly and dirty, but that did little to dampen the spirits of intrepid nighttime travelers. The acetylene lamps were eventually replaced by mass produced battery powered electric lights.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Photographs © 2009 James Jordan.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I have a little lamp similar to this with a handle on top.

This is a cool shot of this old lamp.