"My doctor said...."
|Blotter number 178; image number: LAR_B178.
Text on blotter reads:
"My doctor said,
'Don't read in bed.
You'll waste the night,
and spoil your sight.'
But he's not quite
For the light just right
Is Electric Light,
With the EDISON MAZDA lamp."
The convenience and (eventually) the economy of electric
light led to far-reaching changes in American homes. People gained more
control over their time and over the use of interior spaces. Rather than
sleeping, one could stay awake and "waste the night" by reading in bed,
as in this blotter for Edison Mazda
lamps. Though some modern researchers studying sleep-deprivation might
argue that the gentleman's doctor gave good advice.
"13500 / 100M"
Electricity solved some problems of lighting a bedroom
and also raised a few concerns. Light sources that used an open flame such
as candles and gas lamps were a fire hazard. No-one needed to fumble with
matches to light an electric lamp in the middle of the night. Electric
lamp makers printed lists of deaths attributed to gas light (often,
it was suggested, due to the victim's failure to turn off the gas
valve after blowing out the flame) in their advertising.
The new technology made some people nervous.
Unused to electricity, they wondered about the safety of sleeping
in an electrified room. Salespeople reported receiving questions
asking if the electricity could leak out like gas. If one went to
sleep with the lights on, would the room catch fire? Hotel owners
were especially concerned in the late 19th century about operational
safety issues for guests using electric lights for the first time.
The handwritten notation "13500 / 100M" on this
blotter is a counting mark, not a museum marking. Apparently 100,000
blotters of this type were ordered. As the blotters were packed
for shipment, this blotter happened to be on top of one stack and
became number 13,500 in the print-run.
For additional information about adoption
of electric lighting in the home see:
Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Electric-Lamp
Industry: Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947
(New York: MacMillan Co., 1949)
Edison Illuminating Company "Hotel Lighting"
Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Disenchanted
Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century, trans.,
Angela Davies (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1988).