Original Thomas Edison "light bulb" patent archive sells for $75,000
Thomas Edison’s original patents surrounding the light bulb and an archive of 37 original British Patent Letters related to the incandescent lamp have been sold at auction for US$75,000. Though Thomas Edison would eventually hold more than a thousand patents, a number of the patents in this archive were unquestionably his most valuable, being among the most valuable patents ever granted.
This important collection also includes four patents held by Joseph Swan and appears to have been the European patent archive of the original Edison-Swan Company, the company formed by Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan that successfully commercialized the electric light.
Edison and Swan had been competitors in the quest to produce a universal domestic lighting system and had both developed the electric light separately. Swan had publicly demonstrated an incandescent lamp in London in February 1879 and received his first patent for electric incandescent lamps later in the year. Edison received his important patents related to the electric light even later in 1879 and early 1880, but commercialization was impossible without both patents and the competitors combined.
The road to global domination was not a smooth one however, as Edison’s patent was voided by the United States Patent office in 1883 due to a counterclaim by William E. Sawyer. Six years of costly litigation ensued before Edison’s patent was validated and restored in 1889. The story of the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over which electric power delivery system would be used in the United States is the subject of a 2017 movie entitled The Current War.
Thomas Edison was one of the most important and prolific inventors of all time. The diversity of his inventions included the Universal Stock Ticker, the Quadruplex telegraph, the phonograph, the carbon microphone, the first practical fluoroscope and he set up the first industrial research laboratory. Beyond individual inventions, he was instrumental in creating the telephony, broadcasting, recording and motion picture industries.
Edison was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (1928), the highest civilian award in the United States. Time magazine listed Edison as one of the “20 most influential Americans of all time” while Life magazine ranked him in first place in its 1997 list of the “100 most important people in the last 1000 Years.”
Source: Oak Auctions