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S-1 Sun Lamp

This is the first General Electric Sunlamp light bulb and the first lamp designed primarily for the purpose of “sun-tanning” the skin of the human body.  It was invented by lighting engineer Royal F. Strickland (1883 – 1947) of GE’s National Electric Lamp Association.  The silver colored drop of liquid is actually a “pool” of liquid mercury [see A58], sometimes called quicksilver. (Please read the cautionary notes on quicksilver below.)  When operated, the heating of the tungsten filament temporarily vaporizes the mercury and in the process gives off mainly ultra-violet (UV) rays, the same rays delivered by the sun, which tan the skin of a sunbather, while the bulb employed a specially designed bulb to filter out the more harmful rays.  This light bulb made its debut in 1929 and it was marked as a significant breakthrough in both the lighting industry and the health field as it was believed that UV rays in copious amounts were beneficial for people’s health and would even cure certain diseases.  Advertised as artificial sunlight, the operation of the GE Sunlamp in a stand [see A59] specifically designed for the proper voltage and current allowed the bulb to mimic the mid-day sun at the height of summer.  The use of eye goggles were even said to be unnecessary (wrongly as it turned out) while sitting in the light of this lamp.  GE predicted that these lamps would be a common fixture throughout both the workplace as well as people’s homes to provide artificial sunlight every day, all year round.  That prediction only proved to be wide off the mark.  Although sunbathing and tanning salons are widely popular today as it was even back then, it is now known by the medical profession that excessive exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer in the long term.  For further dating, if the MAZDA trademark along with GE monogram and other information appear etched on top of bulb, then the bulb was made between 1929 and 1945.  If the word MAZDA does not appear, then bulb was made after 1945 until it was discontinued.  The S-1 was also made with inside frosting

“Similar looking Sunlamps were manufactured by General Electric including the S-2 [see A60] and S-4.  The S-4, cited by General Electric to be “more potent” than its older models, was introduced in 1939.  Later sunlamps, such as the GE Type RS Sunlamp with its flat end bowl, were manufactured in shapes other than the conventional pear shape.

CAUTION No. 1: UV rays have been proven to cause skin cancer when skin is over-exposed.   It is not recommended that these bulbs be used.

CAUTION No 2: Mercury is harmful to one’s health when exposed.  PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN HANDLING THIS BULB, AS BREAKAGE OF THE BULB WILL RELEASE HARMFUL MERCURY VAPORS INTO THE AIR.  CONTACT YOUR TOWN OR STATE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY FOR PROPER STORAGE AND/OR DISPOSAL OF THIS BULB.  DO NOT TOSS THIS BULB INTO YOUR TRASH OR DUMP THE MERCURY IN THE DRAINAGE OF YOUR SINK.


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