Electrical arc lamp, circa 1900. Said to have been from Her Majesty's Theatre in Exhibition Street. With auto-feeding carbon rod mechanism and pulley for access by lowering lamp to replace the rods. A bright 'arc' of light is produced between the carbon rods fitted inside.

Physical Description

Green painted metal with opalescent white pear shaped glass surround and diffuser of the arc. Arc light. Made from three main components; a heavy central component, cylindrical cover and conical shade. The central component is made from a cast iron top plate featuring text. This plate has been coated with green paint. There are various components attached to the top and bottom of the plate; these components are constructed from metals, ceramic, mica; and some parts move. In the centre of the top of the plate there is a wire bound in woven textile and an additional wire which has been twisted into position. The central component has a slightly tapered cylindrical cover constructed from copper alloy. The cover is slightly decorative in shape and has two wide bands of metal coated with green paint, leaving two thinner bands of unpainted copper alloy. Near the top of the cover is a small metal plaque (silver coloured, possibly aluminium or tin) riveted to the cover and featuring the numerals '159 380'. The conical shade is constructed from iron alloy sheet metal pressed into a wide shallow conical shape with a large hole in the centre. The metal has been enamelled on the interior with white and on the exterior with green. The cylindrical cover attaches to the central component through two holes and the conical shade attaches to the cylindrical cover via three screws on the base of the cylinder.


Statement of Significance:
The introduction of public lighting into Melbourne in the 1890s was a major historical event. First streets, then public buildings such as theatres were lit by the wondrous new power of electricity. The introduction of auto-feeding and adjustment of the carbon rods in large arc lights (such as this one) not only made arc lighting feasible but also allowed the later development of cinematography (until recently, theatre projectors used the same system).

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