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Edison - Swan British Patent Archive for Incandescent Lights (88810)

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Edison - Swan British Patent Archive for Incandescent Lights  (88810)
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The Thomas Edison- Joseph Swan British Patent Archive, c1880-1883

An incredibly important archive of original British patents. Issued to both Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan and several of their esteemed cohorts as part of the Edison-Swan Company at the onset of the invention, manufacture and production of incandescent light products and all things related. Edison and Swan were two of the most influential and important inventors of their day, who came up with ideas for inventions that changed humanity. This archive was sold by Harrod’s of London to a client in 1971 and has now surfaced. Harrods Certificate of Authenticity is included. It is one of the most important archives related to modern inventions imaginable.

Imagine owning these original British patents! 1879 #4576 to Thomas Alva Edison for "Improvement in electric lamps and in the manufacturing of same" with a great red seal and 2 embossed stamps. 1880 Patent #578-80 to Thomas Alva Edison in Menlo Park, NJ for "Improvement in electric lamps and in the manufacturing of same" with a great red seal and 2 embossed stamps. Some toning. 1881 issued to Joseph Wilson Swan for "Improvements in and relating to incandescent electric lamps". Some foxing. There are many more patents included that are issued to other Edison-Swan inventors.

The Invention of Incandescent lighting!

Incandescent lighting was first done by Sir Humphrey Davey in 1801-1802. Davey was responsible for major advances in artificial lighting devices. Experiments continued around the western world for nearly a century, before two men in separate places at the same time began a series of experiments that led them to the same place- the electric light.
This archive was purchased by a family in London from Harrod’s in 1971. While the papers are interesting, the family never knew what they had.
Approximately 36 documents from the c1880-1883 period here document the invention and advancement of the electric incandescent lamp and related pieces or equipment. The papers are all original patents issued to the inventors, and the list is a virtual “who’s who” of the Edison-Swan Company. While further provenance is unknown, it appears indisputable that these documents are part of, or all of, the patent archive of the original Edison-Swan Company.

The History of the New Lighting

Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan were both active in experiments with electricity and light, but in different parts of the world – Edison in the USA and Swan in England. Swan was the first of the two to receive a patent for electric incandescent lamps in 1879 and Edison got his in 1880.
Edison had first tested his light on October 22, 1879, and received a patent on Nov. 4, 1879. That first light lasted a whopping 13.5 hours. He improved the design and received a second patent Jan 27, 1880. That lamp became the first commercially practical incandescent lamp in the world. Swan had publicly demonstrated an incandescent lamp in London in Feb 1879. With improvements, he received a British patent in November, 1880.
Meanwhile, the US Patent office voided Edison’s patent in 1883, bowing to a counterclaim by William E. Sawyer. After six years of litigation, Edison’s patent was validated and restored in 1889.
In order to avoid more possible litigation, Edison and Swan got together and formed a mutual company in Britain known variably as the Ediswan Company or the Edison and Swan United Electric Company. It is from this company that this archive must originate.


The Patents and Players (with the number of patents in this Archive)

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1941) (2 Patents). Major inventor, genius, considered one of, if not the most important American inventor. He played a major factor in the invention of many, many modern machines and devices that changed industry forever.

Joseph Swan (1828-1914). (4 Patents). Swan began his experiments on light bulbs at least as early as 1850 (when Edison was only 3). His first British patent along these lines was in 1860. In 1875 he rekindled his interest, first publicly displaying a successful light bulb in Feb., 1879, a number of months before Edison and unknown to Edison. He received a patent November, 1880.

Charles Henry Stearn (1844-1919). (2 Patents) Stearn began working for Swan in 1877 and was indispensable as a key inventor within the Swan realm. By 1882 he was managing Director of the Swan United Electric Company.

John Francis Albright (1857-1914). (1 Patent). Albright was a young engineer who began work with Swan in 1880. After the joining with Edison, Albright ran the ship lighting division of the company.

Edward Griffith Brewer (c1847-?). (9 Patents). Brewer received several British patents for improvements to electric lamps in 1880. He may have been working for Edison Swan at that time. He was an inventor of a number of kinds of machinery and apparatus.

Charles Gimingham (1853-1890). (2 Patent). Gimingham and his brother Edward were scientists in London. In 1881 he began work for the Swan Company. After “greatly simplifying and improving” incandescent lamps, Gimingham continued work for Swan and its successor- Edison-Swan, where he managed a factory. Gimingham was also such a well known scientist that he had consulting work for the likes of Charles Darwin on water problems at the Darwin house.

Nelson King Cherrill (1845-?). (1 Patent) Cherrill was an early photographer, and little is known of him during the 1880’s. In all likelihood, Cherrill invented an incandescent lamp for photographic purposes. His British patent was for “Improvements in exhausting the bulbs of incandescent lamps, Nov. 22, 1882. At the time he was a resident of Paris.

Peter Jensen (1847-?). (6 Patents). Jensen was nothing short of a major inventor. A longtime friend of Edison, he had at least dozens of patents from 1877-1880. These patents were for important things such as part of the electro-magnetism systems for railroads; dynamo electric devices; propellers; production of nitrogen and oxygen; improvements in breech-loading cannon; improvements in systems for conductors for the distribution of electricity as a lighting agent, and other electric lighting agents.

Edward Hibbard Johnson (1846-1917). (1 Patent). Edison’s mentor, inventor of the Christmas lights. In 1871, Johnson hired the young Edison “but the whiz kid proved so brilliant and entrepreneurial that in short order their roles reversed”, said one of Johnson’s biographers C. Klein (2014)

Thomas John Handford. (?) (8 Patents). Got a patent (or more) for batteries associated with incandescent lamps. Appears to have worked for the joint company after 1882.

Frederick John Cheesbrough (1842-?). (1 Patent). Cheesbrough received a patent for improvements relating to electric lamps and switches in 1879, and probably worked for Swan.

Alexander Bewicke Blackburn. (1811-1897). (1 Patent). Appears to have orked for the Swan group in the early 1880’s, received patent for improvements to lighting globes. Engineer and inventor, invented the Blackburn steam car about 1877.