Emergency Signaling Mirror (ESM1), 1940s

Emergency Signaling Mirror (ESM/1), 1940s

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Julia Child kept this signaling mirror in her kitchen junk drawer as a reminder of her service in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. Such mirrors were issued to members of the military, merchant seamen, and others, like OSS personnel, serving abroad. Julia’s OSS duties took her to India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and China in 1944-45.
This mirror is model 40653, manufactured by General Electric. Small and compact, it could be used to signal for assistance over a 10-mile distance. Instructions for using the mirror are provided on the device, which also includes a braided lanyard for wearing around the neck.
General Electric Company
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
black (back color)
overall: 13 cm x 10 cm x 1 cm; 5 1/8 in x 3 15/16 in x 13/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Julia Child
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Occupations
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


My Father, Wentworth M. Potter, invented this Emergency Signaling Mirror while working as an Illumination Engineer at the Engineering Division, Lamp Department, General Electric Company, Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio. He wrote a paper on it that was published in Illuminating Engineering, Volume XXXIX, No. 4, April, 1944. The title of the paper is "An Emergency Signaling Mirror Incorporating High Efficiency with Precision Aiming".

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