The Inventor of the Electric Light.

The Inventor of the Electric Light.

The following letter, written to The Chicago Inter-Ocean by A. C. Fulton of Davenport, Ia., gives some interesting information relative to the development of the electric light:

DAVENPORT, IA., August 10.—To the Editor: The Scienti fic American of July 11, 1891, publishes this:

“ANTIQUITY OF THE ELECTRIC Light.—(From The Scientific American, December 9, 1848.)—New Electrical Light —The inventors of a new elecirical light exhibited at the Western Literary Institute, Leicester, on its recent reopening under the new auspices expect, it is said, to apply it generally to shop and street illumination, and they state that while the conveying will cost no more than gas the expense of illumination will be one-twelfth the price of the latter light.’”

The Scientific American of 1848 names Messrs. Staite and Peterie of England as the inventors of this new light.

This is a great error and can he shown to be such. There is not a shadow of doubt but that the then well known American chemist, I. Milton Sanders, was the inventor of our present electric light. Not in 1848, but in 1844. And sold his discovery to Mr, Staite of England. The merits of Mr. Sanders’ light were thoroughly tested in Newport, Ky., and in Cincinnati in 1844, and the opinions of men of science given.

Editor Charles Crist of Cincinnati, the statistician, published the prediction in 1844 that the Sanders light would become the light of the world at no distant day.

Mr. Sanders’ confidence in his light was unbounded, but his capital at that day was limited. He resolved to go to England and introduce his light. He contracted with his chief workman, John Starr, and on February 17, 1845, set sail for Liverpool in the packet Oxford.

He exhibited his light in London on a magnificent scale and proposed to light that city. The authorities declined to abandon their gas for the new light. Mr. Sanders’ cherished hopes being blighted, he sold his dynamos, machinery and invention and turned his artist, Mr. Starr, over to a Mr. Staite.

In the latter part of 1848 word arrived in America that a Mr. Staite was exhibiting a wonderful light which he had invented.

This statement was published in The Scientific American and other journals.

Upon which Mr. Sanders, in April, 1849, wrote to The Cairo Dalta as follows :

“The light is of my own invention and belongs to no other person. I invented it in Newport, Ky., in the fall of 1844. This Mr, Staite, who is now exhibiting the light and lecturing about it, is the very man to whom the light was sold.”

The above published facts are now before me. (Cairo was then the competitor of Chicago for the ascendancy.)

John Starr died in England in February, 1849, and with him died the English end of the electric light.

Mr. Staite was not an electrician, but the showman, the Barnum. I ask The Inter-Ocean to do justice to America, to genius and the dead.

CURIOUS FREAKS OF Razors.—The finest grades of razors are so delicate that even the famous Damascus sword blades cannot equal them in texture. It is not generally known that the grain of a Swedish razor is so sensitive that its general direction is so changed after a short service. When you buy a fine razor the grain runs from the upper end to the outer point in a diagonal direction toward the handle. Constant strapping will twist the steel until the grain appears to be straight up and down. Subsequent use will drag the grain outward to the edge, so that after steady use for several months the fibre of the steel occupies a position exactly the reverse of that which it did on the day of purchase. The process also affects the temper of the blade, and when the grain sets from the lower outer point toward the back, you have a razor which cannot be kept in condition, even by the most conscientious barber. But here’s another curious freak that will take place in the same tool: Leave the razor alone for a month or two, and when you take it up you will find that the grain has assumed its first position. The operation can be repeated until the steel is worn through to the back.—Mechanical News.


—Charles E. Emery gives the following table of the water supply required per head for cities with populations of from 60,000 to 300,000 in the United States:

Regarding these figures Engineering remarks: “No doubt the summers in the States are much drier and the heat greater than in this country, but the figures given above would be considered very extravagant in English cities, where many towns are content with from twenty to twenty-two gallons per head per day London gets about thirty, and Glasgow, which appears extravagant in this commodity, about fifty. For domestic purposes it is certain that on an average not more than about fifteen gallons per head are required, any greater supply being either used for manufacturing or municipal purposes, or very fr.quently wasted through defective pipes and fittings.”

TAXING INSURANCE COMPANIES FOR FIRE DEPARTMENTS. —Following what has been done very largely in America, a proposal has been made in France to establish a fund for the provision of pensions for firemen, out of money raised by a tax of one per cent upon insurance premiums. At least we suppose this is the idea, though the paragraph before us states that the tax is to be one per cent upon the amount of the policies, which would certainly yield an ample revenue the first year, and then, we fear, extinguish fire insurance in France until the law was repealed. Whether the commission of the budget will deal in this generous manner with the money of the premium-paying public we do not know, but there is very little doubt that if they do there will be a great outcry. It is to be hoped they will not. The justice of providing against the contingencies of death and injury, which cannot be avoided by firemen in the execution of their duties, is so obvious and so generally acknowledged that there is no difficulty in doing it in a manner which will create no soreness. The firemen do not desire to be looked upon as wrenching what is due to them out of the hand of a section of the community which is “unwilling to part.” The firemen should have their pensions, but the whole body of the people who own property ought to provide the funds, and not merely one portion of the public, and that the most careful, which would be the case if insured property only is taxed in the manner proposed.— The Fireman, Lotidon.

“ SHAGGLES ” OF Victoria.—Visitors at No. 2 fire hall on Yates street, Victoria, B. C., make it a point to ask for “Shaggles,” the pet dog belonging to the firemen. At every alarm the dog runs ahead of the engine horses, and his peculiar bark can be heard for some distance, according to The Chronicle. His name is on the roll and “ Shaggles ” has never missed a fire. On one occasion the dog was taken home by one of the boys and was locked up in a room during the night. An alarm of fire was heard by the occupants of the house, followed by a crash of breaking glass. When a search was instituted it was discovered that “ Shaggles ” was missing, and in a short time his bark was heard in his old position at the front of the engine. He can recognize the Tiger fire bell in an instant and will take no notice of the city hall or church bells. “Shaggles” usually sleeps at the door of the fire hall and is considered one of the ugliest dogs in the city.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BUFFALO’S Reservoir,—The Buffalo (N. Y.) News of September 12 says : “ The reports of the two engineering experts, Fteley of New York and General Smith of Chicago, on the question whether any additional precautions are needed to make the Dodge Farm reservoir perfect, were handed to the water commissioners this morning. The experts recommend a number of changes in the plans, to prevent percolation and to increase the safety of the reservoir. They find that the east side has an impervious clay bottom, but the west and south sides have a gravel bottom and should be covered with a puddle of clay three feet thick. The whole bottom should then receive a thin coat of eement, which will give it a smooth, hard surface and render it easier to clean. The method of constructing the embankment should be discontinued. At the foot of the interior slopes a wall of rubble masonry should be built. The slopes should be lined with a clay puddle and paved with stone firmly laid in six inches of cement. To further increase the safety of the reservoir a partition wall dividing it into two parts should be built. The experts finally dwell on the importance of firstclass material and workmanship. If their recommendations are carried out, they say they have no fear that the reservoir will be safe and serviceable for many years.”

WATER RIGHTS IN Arizona.—The following is proposed as the article in the constitution of Arizona upon the subject of water rights :


Of the public waters and rights of the people to the use thereof.

SECTION I. All waters of every natural stream and lake within the State are declared public property, subject to use by the people under such rules and restrictions as may be hereafter prescribed by law.

SEC. 2. No person or number of persons can gain or exercise a right to any special quantity of the public waters. The right to use the same shall in all cases be governed and measured by the necessities of the users, the circumstances, conditions, season and main supply, the oldest users always having the first right of use.

SEC. 3. All accrued rights under the laws of the Territory of Arizona are hereby declared inviolate.

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