How Many Museum Professionals Does it Take…..

 

lightbulb-chris

Chris is perched precariously on the ladder investigating wattage and voltage.

Although I am sure that my life is far more exciting than that of anyone else, I must occasionally reaffirm this notion by partaking in activities such as organizing the plastic grocery bags under my sink or lining the cat pan with clean newspapers, or, bringing the excitement to work by counting and inventorying light bulbs in each of the museum’s lighting devices.  Indeed, the thought of it gives me butterflies: The ladders! The dust! The myriad of moth carcasses in the bottom of fixtures! And we cannot forget the bulbs-or as Mr. Mathis called them, “light globes”.

Just yesterday, Villa Finale’s  Manager of Buildings and Grounds, Chris Roddy, asked me, quite early in the morning, if I had some time to accompany him in the bulb count.  And I said yes.  Armed with a flashlight, a rag, and cotton gloves, we went to work.  We took the ladder around to each room, examined the overhead fixtures and chandeliers first, then looked at free-standing lamps.   We went in the basement, in the tower, on the porches and in the bathrooms.  I had to consider which fixtures might not be aesthetically pleasing with new compact florescent bulbs, and which needed to remain clear or flame-shaped.  We will be able to replace quite a number of the bulbs because there are only a few that are visible from below.  

lightbulb-argand-bulb

The lightbulb from the argand lamp.

lightbulb-argand-lamp

The J. & I. Cox argand lamp.

We counted 207 light bulbs.  Some of them were ridiculously small and unidentifible with regard to wattage, but perfectly suited for the lamp and location in which it was placed.  Like this one in an Argand lamp made by the J. & I.  Cox of New York City.  This type of lamp was patented in 178o and originally fueled by whale oil.  Mr. Mathis’s Argand lamps date from 1810 – and I feel as if he did not want them to have the glow of a modern lamp, therefore he found tiny flame-shaped bulbs to place in these lamps, and several others in the house.  The effect is beautiful and appropriate.

 

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One Response to “How Many Museum Professionals Does it Take…..”

  1. david boysel Says:

    J & I Cox were retailers and not manufacturers.
    The Argand you have is most likely English,
    from one of the Birmingham factories.
    I have several of these lamps. You may be
    a little potimistic about the age also. Some
    original catalogues do survive and are very
    informative.
    The impossibly tiny bulb is 7w possibly by
    Satco, but other brands exist. I use them in
    lamps not oil burning and they simulate the
    correct light nicely.
    Hope this is a help.


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