Detail of King-Starr patent and US Patent to Heinrich Goebel
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Non-copyrighted comments that I have added will appear in blue font, and some certain numbered reference notes may be omitted. However, they do form a part of the overall verification of this report, and may be made available upon request.
The Following items were extracted from the Research Efforts of :
Edward J. Covington
17279 Hooper Ridge Road
Millfield, Ohio 45761-9645
U. S. A.
This first section of specific data which pertains to the inventor John Worthington Starr, is followed by a detailed explanation of "dating" of early United Kingdom patents. Section 3 represents an internet summarization of the work and displays of Mr William J. Hammer who established a small ACTUAL museum (in contrast to an actual museum and gigantic VIRTUAL museum and History of the world of radio being developed by Mr Ernest Erb). Mr Hammer, through his exceedingly large collection of early lamps amassed during a 34-year period, from 1879 until 1913, was also a colleague of Mr Thomas Alva Edison.
John Wellington Starr
The casual reader of technical literature which deals with the early history of lighting by electricity will occasionally come across the name of J. W. Starr. Not much is usually mentioned about him except that he obtained an English patent in 1845, in the name of Edward Augustin King, for "lamps" that had either platinum or carbon as resistively heated elements. Historians have concluded that Starr's patent was the first significant step toward the final development of a commercially practical lamp by Thomas Edison in 1879. It seems to this writer, then, that we should try to learn more about this man. (My interest in Mr. Starr was aroused by several email communications with Mr. Larry Grannis of Orange, CA.)
It appears that the knowledge about Starr that has been mentioned by authors is essentially the same information being repeated. A limited effort to increase this knowledge quickly told this writer that there wasn't much information readily available without some research. Some effort was therefore expended to try to learn more. Perhaps the new information that follows will help a serious biographer.
Articles and books state that: J. W. Starr, was from Cincinnati, Ohio, invented a light source that was powered by electricity, was financed by the philanthropist, George Peabody, traveled to England and was granted English Patent No 10,919 in the year 1845, under the name of King, who was reported to be his attorney. Starr was said to have died in 1847, at age 25, on board ship while returning to the United States. One author (Edwin W. Hammer) believed that Starr died prior to King's application for the English patent.
Although some new information will be added, it is also true that some of the information appears to differ from what was reported above.
A one-day visit was made to The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County where death notices were sought for a J. W. Starr in the paper indexes that exist for that time (about 1847). A promising entry was found in the index for the Cincinnati Daily Gazette and the following obituary (No 6030, Volume XX, pg 2, Dec 29, 1846) was read in hard copy.
"Messrs Editors: - It is with sorrow we are obliged, through respect to the memory of the honored dead, to announce to the public, through the medium of your columns, the decease of John W. Starr, Esq., a young and talented Gentleman, a native of our beloved Cincinnati, and the discoverer of the Electro Magnetic Light. After securing his right to his discovery in the United States, his native land, he visited Europe, secured Patents from the British Government, and also in France, but alas! death has stopped his earthly career, and God hath said unto him, 'come up higher.' - He died in Birmingham, Eng. on 21st November, at his lodgings, at Mrs. Mellons. He is interred in Key Hill Cemetery, near the Cemetery Chapel. He has left an aged father and two sisters to mourn his loss; but their loss is his eternal gain. Requiescat in pace."
A visit to the web site http://www.groundwork.org.uk/birmingham/jewellery/walk.htm informs one that the Key Hill Cemetery was Birmingham's first public cemetery. It opened in 1836 and closed for burials in 1982.
A search of the Cincinnati City Directory indicated that no persons with the name Starr were listed for 1819, 1825 or 1829. Two Starr's were listed for 1831, one in 1834, two in 1836, four in 1840, one in 1842, five in 1843 and seven in 1846. The obituary above indicates that John W. Starr was a native of Cincinnati but the City Directory does not seem to indicate that. It's of interest that the listings for 1840 appear to indicate the person's previous residence. In 1840 three Starr's apparently came from Maryland and one came from Connecticut.
As it regards the philanthropist, George Peabody, a message was sent to Dr. Franklin Parker, author of a biography of Mr. Peabody. He responded that he had no references to the name of Starr. He suggested that I contact the Peabody Essex Museum as they had indexed the Peabody papers. The response from the Museum was that they found no reference to J. W. Starr.
A copy of the King patent, No 10,919 (1845) was obtained. There is no mention of Starr's name in the patent. It does say:"...the Invention of 'Improvements in Obtaining Light by Electricity,' communicated to me by a certain Foreigner residing abroad;..."
Bob Rosenberg of Rutgers University informed me of a web site that led to two articles that deal with Starr. The web site is http://edison.rutgers.edu/Names search/DocDetImage.php3. This site consists of images of notebooks of Francis Robbins Upton, Edison's mathematician. Two references were given by Upton on images 46 and 47 of the second notebook. These will be given in the bibliography below.
A lucky break occurred for the writer while he was browsing through an early edition of the Electrical World and Engineer. A letter to the editor appeared in response to the article by Edwin W. Hammer (referenced below). As the contents of the letter bear directly on the present subject matter it is repeated here verbatim:
"To the Editors of Electrical World and Engineer:
Sirs:--In common doubtless with others I have read with much interest the narrative of Mr. Edwin W. Hammer concerning "Incandescent Lamp Development to the Year 1880," which recently appeared in your columns.
"He begins, rightly, as I believe, by giving some consideration to the early incandescent lamp work of J. W. Starr, best known by the British Starr-King patent of the year 1845, but seems to have little more information about Starr than can be gleaned or inferred from that patent.
"There is, however, further information at hand, and while some of it may be legendary, there can be no doubt that in a general way Starr's story is told with substantial correctness by articles or communications appearing severally in Nature, Sept. 7, 1877, pp 459-460; the Telegraphic Journal, London, Jan 1, 1879, pg 15, and the Scientific American, Jan 18, 1879, pp. 40-41.
"The Nature reference is a communication from Mr. Mathieu Williams, who says that he assisted Starr in his experiments on the light; that the results of the said experiments with batteries were such as to convince Mr. Starr that a magneto-electric arrangement should be used as the source of power in electric illumination, and further that Starr died suddenly in Birmingham in 1846, while constructing a magneto machine.
"The Telegraphic Journal and Scientific American articles are more full in their details, especially the latter, and refer to a caveat filed by Starr for his light in the United States, reciting the claim thereof; speaking also of capitalists, including George Peabody, who were ready to assist him; of a kind of electric candelabrum whereon electric lamps were to be mounted of number corresponding to the States of the American Union, as they were at that time, saying that the system was exhibited to Faraday, who pronounced it a perfect success, and that Starr died suddenly during the night following the exhibition, the supposed cause of his death being "excitement and overwork of the brain."
Thomas Lockwood, Boston, Mass."
The contents of the article that appeared in the Jan 18, 1879 issue of the Scientific American magazine follows:
Early History of the Electric Light
"A telegram from Washington, to the effect that Edison's application for a patent upon a divisible electric light had been rejected at the Patent Office, was published in the daily papers of November 21. The ground alleged for the refusal of the patent, says the Operator, was that Edison's invention was an infringement upon that of John W. Starr, of Cincinnati, who filed a caveat for a divisible light in 1845. [Edison's patent has since been allowed.]
"Starr was a maker of philosophical instruments, and resided at Cincinnati. Had he lived he might have proved as much of a genius as Edison. He experimented on his invention, and went to England to complete it, Mr. King going as his agent, and two gentlemen, Judge J. W. McCorkle, late member of Congress from California, and Mr. P.P. Love, of Dayton, Ohio, furnished the money, about $3,000. Each was to have a fourth interest in the invention. Letters of introduction were given to King and Starr to the American banker in London, George Peabody, who, when the subject was fully explained to him, agreed to furnish all the capital that would be required to promote the project to a successful and practical use, provided that the same was approved and sanctioned by the best and most celebrated electricians in Europe. Professor Faraday was chosen.
"In the meantime Starr and King returned to Manchester, where Starr built what he termed a tree, called "The United States." He had on it twenty-six branches or limbs, which he called by the names of the then twenty-six States of the Union. At the end of each limb he had an electric light, covered by a glass globe, on each of which was painted or inscribed the name of each State. Having thus completed his invention, he and King took it to London and exhibited it to the electricians at the Electrical Society, Professor Faraday being present. So perfect was his invention that the Professor pronounced it a perfect success.
"After the exhibition was over King and Starr went home perfectly elated with the success, and after partaking of a very frugal meal they retired to bed. The next morning Starr, not making his appearance at the morning meal, was allowed to remain in bed, but as the day advanced and he did not make his appearance, King and the landlord went to his room, and not being able to awaken him, they burst open the door, and there found poor Starr dead in his bed. The excitement and overwork of the brain are supposed to have caused his death. From that day to this nothing further has been done with the Starr invention.
"Starr filed a caveat in this country in 1845. His claim may be interesting enough to quote here:
'I claim the application of continuous metallic and carbon conductors intensely heated by the passage of a current of electricity to the purpose of illumination. I do not claim the method of lighting wires by electricity, which is well known, as I have already stated, but I claim the method of heating conductors so as to apply them to illumination, the current being regulated so as to obtain the highest degree of heat without fusing the conductor. I claim the method of obtaining an intermittent light for the use of lighthouse, in the manner set forth, and for signals. I claim the mode of submarine lighting by enclosing the apparatus in a suitable glass vessel, hermetically sealed, and also the mode of lighting places containing combustible or explosive compounds or materials, as set forth.'
"His application for a patent was rejected, however, in 1846, on the ground that the invention was not new, and that there was too much expense in producing the electric light. Mr. Edison says his invention is different from Starr's. He says he cannot patent the divisibility of the electric light, but he can patent the means that allows it. In other words, he can patent a lamp, or any device that will make this division. His application for a patent for a lamp is already before the Commissioner, and is taking its regular course. According to the rules of the Patent Office nothing concerning it can be divulged. It is understood, however, that it is progressing favorably. Mr. Edison has already received seven patents bearing on the electric light, and has filed three caveats. Five more similar applications are now under way. He has had a man in the Astor Library searching the French and English patent records and scientific journals, from the earliest dates down to the past fortnight, and says nothing like his arrangements has been revealed.
"Mr. Edison is making elaborate preparations to introduce and experiment with the electric light. He proposes to commence at Menlo Park with 2,000 lights, using telegraph poles with 15 lights on each arm. This experiment, including the cost of the buildings, engine, generating machines and everything, is estimated at from $100,000 to $125,000."
The Edison Electric Light Company was formed in 1878 by Thomas Edison and twelve other individuals. $50,000 was put at Mr. Edison's disposal immediately. A year later the money had been spent without success. A meeting of the incorporators was held and one of them, Robert L. Cutting, Jr., 'pointed out that Mr. Edison seemed to have come to the same place as J. W. Starr, who had experimented earlier with various kinds of incandescent lamps and had published his researches as a scientific contribution, to show that such a lamp was not practicable.' (New York Times, Oct 19, 1931, pg 23, "Light Bulb Balked Edison for Months").
"I have read Mr. Starr's book," said Mr. Cutting, "and it seems to me that it would have been better to spend a few dollars for a copy of it and to begin where he left off, rather than to spend $50,000 coming independently to the same stopping point."
"No," said Edison, "I don't think the incandescent light will ever be found that way. It's not a matter of beginning where Starr left off, because I believe the incandescent light lies somewhere between his beginning and his stopping point -- that he passed over it. So have I. That is why I want to go back after it again."
William Mattieu Williams wrote at least two letters to the editor regarding Starr. One appeared in Mechanics' Magazine, Vol 44, 1846, pg 348. A second appeared in Nature, Vol 16, Sep 27, 1877, pp 459-460. This second letter will be printed here verbatim:
"Under the above title Mr. Munro describes, in Nature, vol. xvi, p. 422, M. Lodighin's device for an electric light. This is no novelty but a simple repetition of an invention made by Mr. Starr, a young American, and patented in this country under the title of 'King's Patent Electric Light,' specification enrolled March 25, 1846. An account of it, with drawings, may be found in the Mechanics' Magazine, April 25, 1846, p.312. To this are appended some editorial remarks in which the novelty of the invention was at that date disputed. Those who care to follow the subject further may find a letter of mine replying to this editorial criticism in the Mechanics' Magazine of May 9, 1846, p. 348.
"I constructed a large battery and otherwise assisted Mr. Starr in his experiments on this light. The "wick," as Mr. Munro aptly calls it, was a stick of gas retort carbon, like that pictured (Nature, p. 423), excepting that it was affixed to supports of porcelain in order to remedy the fracture which occurred to our first apparatus in which the carbon stick was rigidly held in metallic forceps. Thus the improvement of M. Kosloff was also anticipated.
"The lamp-glass was a thick barometer tube about thirty-six inches long, with its upper end blown out to form a large bulb or expanded chamber. The carbon and its connections were mounted in this with a platinum wire passing through and sealed into the upper closed and expanded end of the tube.
"The whole of the tube was then filled with mercury and inverted in a reservoir, and thus the carbon stick, &c., were left in a Torricellian vacuum. The current was passed by connecting the electrodes of the battery with the mercury (into which a wire from the lower end of the carbon dipped) and with the upper platinum wire respectively. A beautiful steady light was produced accompanied with a very curious result which at the time we could not explain, viz., a fall of the mercury to about half its barometrical height and the formation within the tube of an atmosphere containing carbonic acid.
"I have now little doubt that this was due to the combustion of some of the carbon by means of the oxygen occluded within itself.
"In pointing out this anticipation of M. Lodighin's invention I do not assume or suppose that any piracy has been perpetrated. It is one of those repetitions of the same idea which are of such common occurrence and which cost the re-inventor and his friends a vast amount of trouble and expense that might be saved if they knew what had been done before.
"I may add that the result of our battery experiments was to convince Mr. Starr that a magneto-electric arrangement should be used as the source of power in electric illumination; and that he died suddenly in Birmingham in 1846, while constructing a magnetic battery with a new armature which, theoretically, appeared a great improvement on those used at that date. Of its practical merits I am unable to speak.
Twickenham, September 18 W. Mattieu Williams"
In the article above, the early inventor, J. W. Starr, was given brief consideration. Little information on Starr appears to be available in the articles and books that deal with incandescent lamps. A few days after this topic was added to my old website the writer was rummaging through some boxes that contained papers that dealt with incandescent lamps. These had been collected over the last 44 years or so. I ran across copies of some articles that had been forgotten about for some 38 years. The articles had, as their subject, J. W. Starr.
In the early 1960s a few lamp collectors decided to start up a "bulletin" in which one could write on any subject dealing with incandescent lamps. Dr. Hugh F. Hicks, of Baltimore, was instrumental in starting the bulletin and it was Dr. Hicks' sister who created the beautiful cover that adorned each report. One of the contributors was Dr. Charles D. Wrege, of Rutgers University. Along with his report on "James Billings Fuller: An Incandescent Lamp Mystery," he sent along an article that was published in the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin on another experimenter of the incandescent lamp, Dr. Isaac Adams, Jr. The article was entitled: "Rx for a Light: The Story of Dr. Isaac Adams, Jr." Accompanying the Adams article were two that dealt with J. W. Starr. Both were entitled:" The Mystery of Grave P-403." The older of the two articles was published as a newspaper item in the Birmingham (England) Post on Oct 18, 1962. The other article was a somewhat abbreviated version of it and it appeared in the publication American Cemetery in Apr 1963.
An attempt to locate Dr. Wrege was made-and fortune was with me-as he now resides in coastal New Jersey as a semi-retired gentleman. A pleasant telephone conversation was had with Dr. Wrege and he informed me that the Birmingham Post article had been expanded and a more complete accounting of Starr had been published. That article, "J. W. Starr: Cincinnati's Forgotten Genius," appears in The Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, Vol 34, Summer 1976, No 2, pp 102-120. The article is the result of painstaking efforts and is a scholarly work of the first order.
The student of early lamp experimenters is urged to read this work. Although everything that is desirable to know could not be ascertained, the degree of penetration into the mystery of J. W. Starr is remarkable. Some minor information of peripheral interest has been uncovered recently and perhaps it will be added at a later date.
Dates on Very Early British Patents
When recently issued U.S. patents are examined, one finds two dates that tell when the application was filed and when the patent was granted or issued. The situation is somewhat different when early British patents are examined. The following briefly explains the meaning of the dates in that case.
Three dates appear on early British patents. As an example, the patent granted to Edward Augustin King (or J.W. Starr) for two lamp designs will be considered. This patent has "A.D. 1845.......No. 10,919." at the top of the pages. Within the document the three dates, in the order in which they appear, are: 4 Nov (1845), 2 May 1846, 4 May 1846. It can be seen then that the patent number is identified with the first date.
The first date is the date of application, the second is when full patent specifications were submitted and the third date was called the date of enrollment; it was the date on which the patent was granted. It follows, therefore, that King's patent was applied for in 1845 but issued in 1846.
Apparently "Patents between 1617 and 1852 were not officially published until a gentleman named Bennett Woodcroft, who was the Superintendent of Specifications and Indexes in 1852, implemented many changes including an extensive programme of publishing. All patents between 1617 and September 1852 were numbered and printed along with those from October 1852 onwards.
"Patents pre 1852 were applied for in theory only with the actual specification being presented within six months of this date and then 'enrolled' a few days later at one of the three Chancery Offices of the applicants choice."
As it regarded the King (or Starr) patent-
"Prior to the Patent Law Reform Act of 1852 the grant of a single patent did not apply to the whole of the United Kingdom. Separate grants were required for each of England, Ireland and Scotland.
"In Scotland application for a patent was made to the Home Secretary. A warrant was issued and 'Sealed', the specification itself was to be lodged with the Chancery Office within four months. Once all this was done the granted patent lasted for (normally) fourteen years. Today (2001) the specifications are held in the care of the Scottish Record Office at Edinburgh.
"Something the British Library does hold...is a volume titled 'Scotland, Alphabetical Index of Patentees 1767 to 1855.' There is an entry under the year 1846 - no exact date is given - for Edward Augustin KING, the title of the invention is listed as 'Light by Electricity.'"
As an aside, the second patent granted to Edward Augustin King (for Magneto-Electric Machines) carries the following three dates: application, 30 Apr (1846); date of full specifications, 30 Oct 1846; enrollment, 30 Oct 1846.
The writer is indebted to Maria Lampert of the British Library for much of this valuable information.
After a lengthy telephone conversation on 21 Jan 2005 with Mr Edward J Covington, this Radiomuseum.org member received the researcher's permission to reprint the above items, and to display his photocopies of the original patent enrolled to Mr Edward A King. The patent itself includes an "application portion, a specification portion, and the enrollment portion" which constitute the complete patent granted to Edward Augustin King for the first of two (2) patents. A following patent which was enrolled to Mr King, and granted on 30 Oct 1846, is not included with this treatise.
Digital photocopies of this first patent granted to Edward Augustin King of Warwick Street, in the County of Middlesex, by Her Majesty's Royal Letters Patent, under the Great Seal of Great Britain - A.D. 1845. . . . . . . .No. 10,919, are included with the above narrative. The actual patent document includes the application and specification (Illustration of Specification); the 2 May 1846 acknowledgement of the aforesaid specification (Enrollment of Patent); and the official enrollment - the date upon which the patent was granted by the Royal Letters Patent Office (King Patent.
Additional digital photos of a patent issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 266,358 issued to Mr Heinrich Goebel (Goebel Patent Sht 1 and Goebel Patent Sht 2) , are also submitted as part of this post to support the "Truth and Certification" statements previously written in a prior forum discussion.
There are also some controversial data (from differing sources) which, nevertheless, supports the experiments carried out by Mr Heinrich Goebel who was granted a US patent, No. 266,358 in 1882. The term controversial is used herein to explain inconsistencies which relate to the date of the patent . Mr Goebel was an inventor and early developer of a functional incandescent lamp. Born 20 April 1818, in Germany, he emigrated to the US in 1849 where he continued his extensive research to produce a longer burning and practical incandescent lamp. Inconsistencies appear with reference to factual occurrences and conflicting patent dating as early as 1854 by some authorities.
All of the preceding recorded information is offered to substantiate and support an assertion that the invention and development of the first commercially viable and practical incandescent lamp was, in essence, a lengthy series of processes. These efforts which involved men of great vision and varying backgrounds within at least several nations, each contributing in varying degrees, culminated in the creation of one of man's most important undertakings in many centuries, if not millenia.
Please note also that in the William J. Hammer Historical Collection below (since he was a colleague of Thomas Edison), there is NO reference to Mr Heinrich Goebel's efforts in the listing of individuals (see the text in blue font) who made noteworthy or significant contributions.
The following information is extracted from the web site BulbCollector.com, produced by Mr Tim _________, of Fruitport,Michigan, and presented in its entirety. The reader should also note that the source material he uses is actually derived from the book and materials produced by Mr. William J. Hammer in 1913, and who was also, coincidentally, a colleague of Thomas Edison.
This article was edited 04.Feb.05 05:04 by Robert Sarbell .