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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bulbs: 1925

Bulbs: 1925

March 12, 1925. "C.W. Mitman of Smithsonian Institution with giant and midget bulbs." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

On Shorpy:
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I see a tiny man holding a normal size bulb.

40,000 watt bulb!

Washington Post, Mar 12, 1925

Giant Electric Lamp and Midget Bulb Here

The largest and smallest electric light bulbs ever seen in Washington were received at the Smithsonian institution yesterday by Carl W. Mitman, curator of the department of engineering.

The bulbs arrived by special messenger from the Edison Electric Light Company, of New Jersey. One came in a packing case, which was so large the messenger was forced to obtain a section on the train for its disposal. The tiny glass bulb was wrapped in tissue paper and carried in a sealed envelope in the messenger's pocket.

While the big bulb represents 40,000 watts of electricity, the small bulb is known as the "grain of wheat" on account of its size. It is extremely fragile and corresponds to a miniature incandescent lamp. When the proper electrical equipment has been installed the two bulbs will be placed on exhibition in the museum, special cases having been provided for them.

Happy Giant

The filaments in the giant bulb do sorta suggest a face, don't they?

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America


It took me a minute to spot the midget bulb. The photographer helped Mr. Mitman by loaning him the dark slide out of the film holder from his camera to function as a backdrop for the tiny bulb.


It seems to me the photographer may have been having some fun with the shapes of the giant bulb and Mr. Mitman's head...

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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