Goebel Original and Reproduced Lamps
During the early 1890s there was much litigation in the courts regarding the incandescent lamp. The Edison Electric Light Company (General Electric Company) brought infringement suits against many manufacturers and in 1893 some lamp companies defended their position by claiming a "Goebel Defence." Lamps that were purported to have been made by Henry Goebel much earlier than 1872 appeared in the court cases and were identified by numbers. Reproduced lamps made for use in the court litigations were given letter identifications. Labels on the lettered lamps have the notation "U. S. Circuit Court, Eastern District of Missouri." Pictures of both numbered and lettered lamps are presented below.

In 1988 a boxed collection of Goebel lamps was donated to The Henry Ford (the Edison Institute, a Michigan nonprofit corporation that provides educational services) in Dearborn, Michigan by the General Electric Company; the box and its contents (accession 88.56.12) are currently in storage. Through the courtesy of Marc Greuther, Curator of Industry, the writer was given the opportunity to photograph these artifacts, which had been gathered, identified and labelled in the year 1893. Each picture was taken with a hand-held camera so the magnification is probably different for each photograph. The vertical height of the trimmed image was made the same in most cases for the purpose of presentation.

In many cases there are three labels on the lamps. However, identification was difficult because the ink markings on the labels had faded. However, after careful study it was concluded that the lamps are correctly identified in this write-up.

The first court case that used the "Goebel Defence" was in Boston in January and February of 1893 when the Edison Electric Light Company brought suit against the Beacon Vacuum Pump and Electrical Company. Then, in April of 1893 suit was brought against the Columbia Incandescent Lamp Company of St. Louis, Missouri. In July of 1893 suit was brought against the Electric Manufacturing Company of Oconto, Wisconsin. The box of Goebel lamps originated from St. Louis. Columbia eventually became part of the National Electric Lamp Association, which, in 1912, became part of the General Electric Company. The close relationship between Thomas Edison and Henry Ford probably helped to direct the lamp collection to the Ford Museum. Dodd, who wrote a book about the founders of National, used a picture of some of these lamps in his book7.

It should be noted that the date commonly given on the largest lamp label (December 16, 1893) doesn't correspond to any date of known significance. The court litigation in St. Louis occurred in April of 1893. Henry Goebel passed away on December 4th, 1893 and the basic Edison patent expired in November of 1894.

Wooden box with a total of 19 Goebel original and reproduced lamps
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Stamped on the bottom of this box is "Witter & Kenyon, 38 Park Row, New York City." Witter and Kenyon were the attorneys for the defense at all three "Goebel defense" cases. Witter was W. C. Witter and Kenyon was William Houston Kenyon. A biographical sketch of Kenyon (1856 - 1933) can be found in Who Was Who In America, Volume 1, pg 669. Witter and Kenyon were partners in law during the years 1883 - 1899.

Top layer of lamps
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Second layer of lamps from top
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Third layer of lamps from top
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Bottom layer of lamps
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

From left to right, Lamps: A, B, E, F, G
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

From left to right, Lamps: H, I, K, L, M
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

From left to right, Lamps: N, O, P
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Unidentified "original" Goebel lamps
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Lamp No. 2. From a write-up of the Oconto case6:

"The lamps which Goebel produced at Boston, as original lamps, made in the early years, were four, called Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4... The first three had copper and iron leading-in wires, were what Goebel calls "meat saw" pattern, and show no vacuum now, and if fully proved would not constitute anticipation of Edison. No. 4, called the "hairpin" pattern, has the requisites, including a vacuum, although probably not the high vacuum."
From another article3:

"It appears from the affidavit of Mr. Bull, an attorney at law that Henry Goebel, Jr., delivered lamp No. 1 to him at his office in New York, October 18, and lamp No. 2, November 28, 1892, and that when received both the carbons were detached from the leading-in wires... Henry Goebel, Jr., states that he delivered lamp No. 3 to Mr. Bull at the same time with No. 2, and that he broke the carbons in lamps 1 and 2 on the way to Mr. Bull's office."

Bulb and filament mount of Lamp No. 2
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Lamp No. 4. The lamp shown to the left is one that was labelled "No. 4" in the Beacon litigation. Pictures of lamp No. 4 can be found in the literature1, 3. Indeed, if one looks at an upside-down version of the image shown, one can read "No. 4."

In one article Goebel is quoted as saying2:

"One of these lamps with platinum leading-in wires I sent to the counsel connected with this case at about the same time I gave them the lamps 1, 2 and 3, and told them at that time that this lamp had been in my possession from before 1872, and that it, with others like it, was made prior to 1872. This lamp is marked Goebel No. 4. The lamp "Goebel No. 4" I have had in my possession ever since before moving from Monroe street to Grand street in 1872. I made it and burned it a good many times both before and after I left Monroe street, and it burned well and gave good light. I took especial pains with the glass part of this particular lamp and it was because of this and because the glass part was so well done, giving the lamp a very beautiful and finished appearance, that I always kept it, bringing it out from time to time to light as an exhibit. I kept it in my possession until I sent it to defendant's counsel in this case. The lamp and all the parts are the same they were when I made it prior to 1872, in material and all other respects, except such changes as may have occurred from my use of it, handling and mere lapse of time. When I made it prior to 1872 I made it with a bamboo carbonized burner, with platinum leading-in wires, copper connecting wires; the modes of connection and the glass tube were just as they were as they here appear except as above stated..."

It might be mentioned that the first form of lamp Goebel is purported to have made utilized a filament in the form of a fiddle-bow. These lamps are referred to as "fiddle-bow" or "meat-saw". The next lamp designs utilized the "hairpin" shape, which is shown here.

(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Lamp No. 9 The writer believes this lamp to be No. 9. Quoting from an article5:

"No. 9 is very similar in almost all respects to No. 4 and has platinum leading-in wires, a carbon filament and a junction formed of stove polish in the coiled ends of the leading-in wires.The filament is now broken, but the lamp in question was burned for six weeks in the establishment of the Bigelow Manufacturing Company. Of these there were three.

"The J. C. Goebel lamp No. 9 was found by J. C. Goebel, the son of Henry Goebel, a few days before Judge Colt's decision, in J. C. Goebel's house in Wallingford, Conn. It was one of three lamps given to him by his mother when he was expected to make a trip to Germany, which was previous to May 1, 1879. Two of these lamps he gave to George K. Clark about 1886 or '87. Lamp No. 9 was kept by him in a trunk until about the end of 1891. The trunk being required for use at that time the lamp was removed and found again about the middle of February in a bureau drawer. He claims that it has never been out of his possession since he first received it about June 1, 1878."

In another article the following was written4:
"The affidavit of John C. Goebel says that lamp marked "J. C. Goebel Lamp No. 9" was given him by his mother, with at least two others, before May 2, 1879, and has been in his possession ever since.The others are lost. No. 9 was always where he could put his hand upon it until a year and a half ago when his daughter took to her home the trunk in which they were kept. He had frequently showed them to friends and explained that his father had made them before Mr. Edison had invented his lamp. At one time - in 1881, he thought - he put one of these lamps on the first dynamo set up at the New Haven Wire Mills. The lamp gave a very bright light and did not break, but burned satisfactorily. No. 9 is now, he said, in precisely the same condition as when his mother gave it to him."
(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Lamp No. 11. This lamp first surfaced in the Columbia case. It was stated4:

"Dr. William Mayer, a dentist, of 1024 Chapel street, New Haven, Conn., said he had known Henry Goebel eight or nine years and had often visited him at his store on Grand street, New York City. About 1885, Goebel had given him one of his old incandescent lamps and had talked of his work. Deponent understood from his conversation that the lamp given him, and also many others, were made years before, and prior to the making of incandescent lamps by anyone else. This lamp is marked, No. 11."
The writer is not aware of any picture of Lamp No. 11 that appears in the literature with which a comparison can be made. However, of all the lamps labelled, this particular lamp was well described on its label, including Mayer's name. Also, there is an artist's sketch of Lamp No. 11 in The Electrical World5.

In the same write-up the following was said:

"Dr. Wm. J. Mayer Lamp No. 11 - This was given to Dr. Mayer by Henry Goebel in 1885, who states that in that year he called upon Mr. Goebel at his store in Grand street, when he received this lamp from him, and states that this lamp has been continuously in his possession ever since. It will be noticed that this lamp has a different base from either 4 or 9, being re-entrant or concave instead of convex. The leading-in wires are platinum and the filament is of carbon. The tip or boss where the lamp was sealed off is now broken."

(From the collections of The Henry Ford)

For write-ups of the litigation cases, go to "A Review of the Henry Goebel Defense of 1893", Section 11 (Lamp Patents), on this website.

It is of interest to comment on the existence of other Goebel lamps. One lamp exists in the William J. Hammer Historical Collection of Incandescent Electric Lamps at the Henry Ford Museum and is labelled 1893-953; a mention of it can be found on this website in Section 12 (Lamp Collections and Exhibits). In addition, one Goebel lamp exists enclosed in the corner stone of Building 308 at Nela Park, the headquarters of the General Electric Company's Lighting Business Group8. A history of the Goebel lamp also exists there. The corner stone was laid in 1912.

The writer is most appreciative of the opportunity to photograph these lamps in the Ford Museum. It was Marc Greuther, Curator of Industry, who informed the writer of this find and devoted time as well, during the photography session, to help with the reading of labels.

The writer requests that any viewer of this write-up who uses the presented images on the web or in publication form, acknowledge the Goebel lamp source as the Henry Ford Museum (20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Michigan 48124).

1) "Goebel's Incandescent Lamp and Filament Planer," The Electrical Engineer, Vol 15, No 249, Feb 8, 1893, pg 148.
2) "The Edison Lamp Patent - Additional Affidavits," The Electrical World, Vol 21, No 6, Feb 11, 1893, pp 102-104.
3) Incandescent Lamp Litigation, "An Injunction Granted Against the Beacon Vacuum Pump and Electrical Co. - The Goebel Claims Rejected," The Electrical Engineer, Vol 15, No 251, Feb 22, 1893, pp 188-192.
4) "The Goebel Case Revived As A Defence in St. Louis," The Electrical Engineer, Vol 15, No 259, Apr 19, 1893, pp 391-393.
5) "The Columbia Incandescent Lamp Company Case," The Electrical World, Vol 21, No 16, Apr 22, 1893, pp 291-296.
6) "Decision in the Oconto Incandescent Lamp Case," The Electrical World, Vol 22, No 5, Jul 29, 1893, pp 86-87.
7) Philip S. Dodd, Developing An Industry, The Curtis Press (Detroit), Cleveland, 1910.
8) Hollis L. Townsend, A History of Nela Park, 1911-1957, 1957, pg 58.