The Lighting Pioneers



It may not be possible to discover let alone identify the men and women who invented, designed and developed oil-burning lighting devices, but some of the better known individuals will eventually listed here.

Name Photo Date Detail
George Alcock   1806 UK Patent in 1806 for lamp design
Ami Argand  Ami Argand 1755-1803 Swiss inventor, born in Geneva. Invented the circular wick which allowed better combustion and brighter light. Solved the problem of glass composition to cope with greater temperatures. Received the patent in England in 1874.
Houghton   1836 One of the first to use pressure
Charles-Louis Franchot  franchot 1809-1881 French inventor used pressure to overcome the limitations of gravity fed lamps. Franchot's moderator lamp employed a clockwork-driven (spiral) spring operated piston to feed oil under pressure to the burner through a control valve (which he called "the moderator") thus ensuring more or less constant pressure driving fuel to the burner.
Carl Aur-Welsbach  welsbach  1858-1929 Austrian Scientist known for his pioneering work on the rare earth elements. Most significant work involved developing the gas mantle, the flint as used in lighters, and filaments of platinum and osmium for electric light bulbs. From 1878 onwards he studied at the University of Vienna, specializing in chemistry, mathematics, thermodynamics and physics. He received his doctorate mentored by Robert Bunsen at Heidelberg University in 1882, then continued his work at Vienna. His proportion of 99% thorium dioxide and 1% cerium oxide proved to be the enduring optimum for gas mantles for very many years.
Jöns Jacob Berzelius  berzelius  1779-1848 Swedish chemist born in Väversunda in Östergötland, famous for specialising in atomic weights of elements. He discovered several new elements including cerium and thorium, both of which were so vital in the eventual formulation of gas mantles. He is known in Sweden as "the Father of Swedish Chemistry". Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August.
William Henry Fox Talbot  talbot  1800-1877 Educated at Rottingdean, Harrow, and Cambridge, Talbot submitted many papers to the Royal Society, usually involving mathematics. Known as Henry, his main work centered upon photographic chemistry, but along the way he found that blotting paper impregnated with calcium chloride left a peculiar glowing ash when burnt.
Abraham Gesner  gesner  1797-1864 Canadian geologist, born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. Although in his early years he was a mariner, he gave up that occupation after being shipwrecked. He then studied in London, qualifying as a physician before returning to Canada. His alternative interest in minerals led in 1846 to discovery that a liquid could be obtained from coal and shale. He created the "Kerosene Gaslight Co" in 1850, and his new fuel, kerosene, began to replace whale oil as a fuel because it burned better and cleaner. He ended his career as Professor of Natural History at Dalhousie University.
Charles Clamond     French inventor who produced the "Clamond Basket" Patented in Europe from his addres in Boulevard de Strasborg, Paris and later in North America, this was the first economically practical gas mantle. He also patented various devices concerned with telephony. Active between 1880 and 1900.
Albert Meyenberg      German Inverntor, Frankfurt am Main
Maximillian Wendorf      German Inverntor, Frankfurt am Main
Siegmund Henlein      German Inverntor, Frankfurt am Main