Lighting Through the Ages
Through the 1700s: candles are main lighting source
Early 1800s: whale oil lamps become common
1814: gas street lights installed in London
1827: invention of friction match
1853: kerosene lamps introduced in Germany
1879: Thomas Edison develops first practical electric light
1880: electric lights on Broadway in New York City
1930: flash bulbs for cameras invented
1937: fluorescent lights introduced at New York World's Fair
1990s: energy-saving lightbulbs available
Take a guess what this is-
This simple invention is a rushlight holder, a device New Englanders used in the 1600s as an alternative to a candle. The holder has "jaws" (like a clothespin) that hold the rush, a stiff grass that grows in a bog or meadow. The rush was stripped of its bark, soaked, dried, and then dipped in animal fat; it was sometimes called the poor man's candle.
Unlike a candle, the rushlight could not stand upright because it would burn too quickly. They had to be used with great care, because the light could easily fall out of the holder and even start a house fire. Candles were more often used by those who could afford them.
Here are some common expressions related to light—
"Can't hold a candle to it"
"In the limelight"
"Burning the midnight oil"
Here are some puzzles about light—
Riddle: A black cat lies sleeping on the kitchen floor. No lights are working because of a power failure. The streetlights are not on and there is no moon. A burglar tiptoes into the room and heads straight toward the cat—but steps over her at the last moment. He is not carrying a flashlight, candle, or even a match. How does he see the cat?
Challenge: Now, here's another challenge. As you look through the Winter/Spring 2005 Historic New England magazine either her online or offline with the actual magazine, try to find all of the images shown in the grid to the left.
Answers: ( to view click here with your mouse button and pull down )