It must have seemed very strange indeed. After centuries of having to light candles, and then having to turn on the gas to ensure you can see your way around during the hours of darkness, to suddenly find yourself confronted by a new means of illumination, the electric light bulb.
For the first time in living memory, you no longer had to strike a match and suffer the frustration of it blowing out before you actually got that bright light blazing away so that you could see to walk around and read.
Of course, old habits, as they say, die hard and, if the poster that I recently found is to be believed – and it’s on display in University College London, so I can’t see that it can’t be believed – the light bulb manufacturers had to offer a little guidance in operating these newfangled gimmicks.
After all, as can be seen from this particularity fine specimen, they were somewhat on the large side.
Imagine lugging that one up a ladder in order to change it once it had blown.
But the Edison Company, who manufactured the above example, also proffered advice lest you felt tempted to attempt to light the bulb in the traditional manner by which people had grown used to lighting candles and gas lamps. “Do not attempt to light with match.” It advised the reader entering the darkened room who might, at that very moment, be reaching for a match to light the room. “Simply turn key on wall by the door.” There you go. I’d always wondered why we “turn” the lights on.
And, of course, whenever new technology comes along – be it light bulbs or mobile phones – there are always those who worry that the latest advancement might be injurious to health. Not so, as far as the light bulb goes because they are happy to put you straight on that point. “The use of Electricity (notice the capital E) for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep.”
So there you go. No health risks, and instant illumination that even comes with its own instructional poster lest you encounter any confusion about how to use it.
Except, and I hate to be pedantic about this, how can you read the instructions if you haven’t yet “turned on” the light?
Just a thought!