Album containing 52 black and white photographs documenting various aspects of the production process at the Welsbach Gas Light Company site located along the Delaware River in Gloucester City, New Jersey. From 1888 to 1940, the Welsbach Gas Light Company held exclusive manufacturing and sales rights to the Welsbach gas mantle, a device made of fibers impregnated with oxides of thorium and cerium that produced bright white light when heated with a gas flame. Invented in 1880's by Austrian scientist Carl Auer Von Welsbach (1858-1929), these gas mantles were used extensively in street lighting and in gas-powered appliances. The Welsbach gas mantle also was the first industrial product to make use of rare earth elements. At peak production, the Welsbach factory employed 2,000 people, including a large number of women skilled at the sewing and other precision handwork involved in the manufacturing process. The album, digitized here in its entirety, provides a valuable visual record of all aspects of the production process, showing a wide range of machinery, and male and female employees working at various tasks including chemical production, machining metal parts, sewing, assembly, testing, packaging, and shipping.
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Welsbach Gas Light Company. “Welsbach Gas Light Company Photograph Album,” 1920–1929. Critical Metals: The Chemistry of Light. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/yq3n8qo.
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