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Cooper Hewitt Electric Co.
Hoboken, New Jersey
the Cooper Hewitt 'The Traveler' sunlamp was manufactured by Cooper Hewitt Electric Co., Hoboken, New Jersey
Cooper Hewitt 'The Traveler' sunlamp
the Cooper Hewitt 'The Traveler' sunlamp was manufactured by Cooper Hewitt Electric Co., Hoboken, New Jersey
COOPER-HEWITT-ELECTRIC-CO
Peter Cooper Hewitt (1861-1921)
devoted his adult life to scientific
experimentation and -investigation. One
of his major inventions was the Cooper
Hewitt lamp, a low pressure mercury
vapour arc discharge lamp that produced
an intense, cool, bluish-green light. For
lighting purposes the lack of red in the
spectrum limited its applications but the
bright light made it suitable for industrial
lighting and -applications. Photo studios
made extensive use of Cooper Hewitt
lamps. In an age of black and white film,
the colour of a photographer's light made
little difference and the amount of light
was most important. Together with
George Westinghouse, Peter Cooper
Hewitt founded the Cooper Hewitt Electric
Co. in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1902.
Ultimately, Cooper Hewitt lamps proved
cumbersome to use however. The
necessary electrical ballast was heavy,
each individual lamp had to be ignited
manually and the lamps each contained
as much as a pound of mercury. Newly
developed tungsten filament
incandescent lamps in the 1910s
provided almost as much light as the
mercury tubes but with a much better
colour. General Electric bought the Cooper Hewitt Company in 1919 and in 1933
marketing of a new mercury vapour arc discharge lamp began. Designed in Europe,
this lamp and the fluorescent lamps that followed, used only a fraction of the mercury
Cooper Hewitt lamps did but produced light much more efficiently. The company also
produced sunlamps like the Cooper Hewitt 'The Traveler' on display here, a small
portable sunlamp.
building