Updated 08-XII-2018

Prof. Adolphe A. Chaillet

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Adolphe A. Chaillet

In the latter part of July, 1896 John Cooper Whiteside mentioned to John Chamberlin Fish, a resident of Shelby, Ohio, the claims Adolphe A. Chaillet made about his idea for an improved incandescent lamp. This aroused the interest of Mr. Fish as it sounded like it would be a good business venture to manufacture such a lamp. John C. Fish was an enthusiastic individual who was always looking for a new outlet for his energy. John Whiteside had been the superintendent at the Cooper Engine Works in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. On 7 August 1896 a newspaper article announced1 that a contract had been negotiated with Chaillet (of Columbus, Ohio) and Whiteside and some Shelby venture capitalists. These individuals were: W. W. Skiles, G. M. Skiles, M. H. Davis, Jonas Feighner and John Fish. Chaillet and Whiteside were hired as permanent employees of the new firm, The Shelby Electric Company.
"A. A. Chaillet, the technical manager of the company, and upon whom it chiefly depends for its advice regarding all points pertaining to the manufacturing of its product, was engaged in the factory operated by his father near Paris, France, when the incandescent lamp was made by them in Europe. The professor has been engaged as a manufacturer of incandescent lamps since 1878, having had charge of the laboratory of the largest factory in Germany. Mr. Chaillet came to this country in 1892 to manufacture lamps at Marlboro, Mass. He had been engaged in Germany by the Schaefer company to assist it in making filaments and remodeling its plant. This factory was closed by the Edison company shortly after Professor Chaillet had completed his work of remodeling. The professor was then engaged in the designing department of the General Electric company at Lynn, Mass., and has recently completed the design of an electric locomotive for the Jeffreys Manufacturing company of Columbus, Ohio. Professor Chaillet is not only an electrician of extensive experience and knowledge, but is a thorough chemist and mineralogist."
Of special interest, as it regards lamps manufactured by The Shelby Electric Company, is A. A. Chaillet. It appears little has been written about him and what has appeared should be put in proper perspective. The reason why Chaillet was brought to Shelby was mentioned above1. In the following some additional information is presented.

A. A. Chaillet was living in Shelby in the year 1900 when the U. S. Census was taken. It follows, therefore, that some new information could be obtained by looking at those records. That was done. The census information regarding Chaillet was taken on 18 June 190022. It is stated that Adolphe Chaillet was 32 years of age at that time, having been born in France in November of 1867. In 1900 he lived on Grand Boulevard, Shelby, Sharon Township, Richland County. The place of birth of Adolphe's mother was in Russia and his father's place of birth was in Sweden. It is stated that he had been married for five years.

The wife of Adolphe was listed as Maud L., who, at that time, was 23 years of age, having been born in April of 1877. Her birthplace was in Massachusetts. Maud's mother and father also were born in Massachusetts. The Chaillet's three children were: Alexander B., born in November of 1896; Arnold, born in August of 1898; and, Catherine, five months old and born in January of 1899. The three children were born in Ohio. In actuality a check at the Richland County Vital Records Office in Mansfield, Ohio indicated that Catharine M. was born on 28 December 189920,21; her mother's maiden name was given as Maud Bickmore.

If one refers to the article in Western Electrician13 it can be seen that Chaillet's early lamp experience in Europe is in some doubt. For example, it's difficult to conclude that Adolphe Chaillet was involved in lamp manufacture in the year 1878 when he was only eleven years of age.

It is of interest to note that Adolphe Chaillet was granted only two U. S. Patents during the time period from 1896 through 1922; both19,26 were applied for while he was associated with Shelby Electric.

The activities of A. A. Chaillet after about 1902 are not known to this writer. A look was taken at "The American Family Immigration History Center" website50 and the name of Chaillet did appear. If one simply inserts the surname "Chaillet" without a first name initial, nineteen matches appear. One can then determine that Maud Chaillet and her daughter, Catharine, arrived at Ellis Island on 15 July 1904 aboard the ship "Monterey", the port of departure being Veracruz Llave, Veracruz, Mexico. On that same list one finds that A. A. Chaillet arrived at Ellis Island on 5 July 1914 on the ship "Antonio Lopez", the port of departure being Puerto Mexico, Veracruz, Mexico. It was stated that A. A. Chaillet's place of residence was Mexico City. It might be tentatively assumed, therefore, that Chaillet worked in Mexico City from about 1904 to 1914. Corroboration of that conclusion follows from the text card that accompanies one of William J. Hammer's lamps that is now stored in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Lamp No. 1905-798 is a Chaillet lamp that was manufactured in Mexico53

This writer finds some mystery in Chaillet's actual role at Shelby Electric. The Company was started based on ideas Chaillet had regarding an improved incandescent lamp. The details of Chaillet's new lamp were never completely revealed however, apparently being considered proprietary in nature. The Chaillet lamp, with a new filament, was tested with others in January of 18975,6. Manufacturing of the lamp started about 1 February 1897. The lamp was put on the market in March of 1897.

Adolphe Chaillet was named technical Manager of the Company and was also on the Board of Directors until their annual meeting on 29 August 1902 when he was not re-elected28.

Chaillet's Improved Lamp
The original Chaillet lamp, shown below, appeared in Electrical World on 6 February 18977. The complete details of the lamp design were not revealed in that article. It was a tipless lamp with a carbon filament that was manufactured using a secret process. Quoting directly from the article:
"The lamp possesses a number of peculiar features which it is claimed give to it certain elements of superiority above all others. The filament is square cut by means of automatic machinery from sheets of material produced by a secret chemical process. The cut filament, after being formed, is attached to platinum terminals which are sealed into the sides at the lower end of the lamp bulb. The filament is of such high resistance that in the Shelby lamps it is shorter than that of most other commercial lamps of equal rating. The bulb is not exhausted from the top, which in connection with the exceedingly small filament used makes the completed lamp one of the smallest, also one of the neatest, lamps on the market."

Chaillet's original lamp7

Chaillet had as assistants, Joseph Hardwick, who had worked in the lamp department of the Thomson-Houston Electric Company and Charles F. Stilwell, the younger brother of Thomas Alva Edison's first wife, Mary Stilwell. Hardwick also worked for the Universal Electric Company in Cleveland, Ohio, which dissolved in 189649.

In reality it would have been difficult to prove conclusively that a new lamp design would perform in a superior manner to a competitive lamp that had a different filament configuration. The reason for making such a statement here is that while power input into a lamp could be easily measured, the light output had to have been measured in a spherical photometer. In the 1880s and 1890s light output measurements were usually measured with a horizontal photometer. A horizontal measurement determines light output in only one direction rather than a total integrated value. Thus, while the Chaillet design might have been a better one relative to the competitive lamps it is not easy to conclude that now.

Chaillet's Downward-Light Lamp
The design that was perhaps most recognized to be a "Shelby" lamp was patented by Chaillet on 2 June 190226. The application for that patent (No. 701,295) was filed on 22 October 1900. The basic idea behind the filament and lamp design was to radiate a large portion of the light in a downward direction when the lamp was burned base-up. A part of the first page of the patent follows.

Chaillet's Downward Light Lamp, US Patent 701,295, Fig.3

Shelby Downward Light Lamps

References & Bibliography
  1. US 625,321 - Lamp Socket
  2. US 701,295 - Downward Light Lamp (filed 22 Oct 1900)

  1. "A New Factory", The Shelby News (Shelby, Ohio), 7 Aug 1896.
  2. "The Electric Company", The Shelby News, 21 Aug 1896.
  3. "Note", The Shelby News, 28 Aug 1896.
  4. "The Shelby Electric Works", The Shelby News, 18 Dec 1896.
  5. "The Shelby Electric Company", The Shelby News, 22 Jan 1897.
  6. "The New Incandescent Lamp of the Shelby Electric Company", The Shelby News, 29 Jan 1897.
  7. "The Shelby Incandescent Lamp," The Electrical World, Vol.XXIX, No.6, 6 Feb 1897, p.215.
  8. "A Big Shelby Incandescent Lamp Deal Closed in the West", The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXIII, No 461, 3 Mar 1897, p.254.
  9. "Voltage, Amperes, Watts, Ohms, &c.", Joseph Hardwick, The Shelby News, 12 Mar 1897.
  10. "On the Inconsistency of the Evolution Theory", A.A.Chaillet, The Shelby News, 26 Mar 1897
  11. "The Shelby Electric Co. 'Make the Best Incandescent Lamp in the World,' Interview With One of the Oldest Lamp Dealers in the United States Mr. William Wilson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Shelby News, 9 Apr 1897.
  12. "The Shelby Electric Company", The Shelby Republican, Industrial Edition, 20 May 1897.
  13. "Shelby Electric Company", Western Electrician, Vol.XX, No.24, 12 Jun 1897, p.338.
  14. "The Shelby Electric Co., The Personnel of the Company, The Portraits of the Management", The Shelby News, 25 Jun 1897.
  15. "Incandescent Electric Lamp and Process of Making Same", J. C. Fish, U.S. Patent No. 598,726, Feb 8, 1898, Application filed 3 Aug 1897.
  16. "The 220 Volt Lamp in Practice", J. C. Fish, The Electrical Engineer, Vol XXV, No 526, 2 Jun 1898, p.604.
  17. "Incandescent Lamps as Manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company, Shelby, O.", The Electrical Engineer, Vol.XXVI, No.545, 13 Oct 1898, p.358.
  18. "Incandescent Lamps - Detailed Description of Their Manufacture", American Electrician, Vol.XI, No.5, May 1899, p.241.
  19. "Socket for Incandescent Lamps", A.A.Chaillet, U.S. Patent No. 625,321, 23 May 1899, Application filed 28 Feb 1898.
  20. "Birth of Catharine M. Chaillet, 28 Dec 1899", Richland County Vital Records Office, Probate Court, 50 Park Ave., East, Mansfield, OH, Vol 3, p.54.
  21. "Birth Announcement", The Shelby News, 5 Jan 1900, p.5, col.1.
  22. "1900 Soundex, Chaillet=C430"; 1900 Census, Vol.130, E. D.=136, Sheet 14, Line 96.
  23. "1900 Soundex, Fish=F200".
  24. "Gain in Effective Illumination from Incandescent Lamps", American Electrician, Vol.XII, No.7, Jul 1900, p.362.
  25. "Globe Works", The Shelby News, 28 Feb 1902.
  26. "Incandescent Electric Lamp", A.A.Chaillet, U.S. Patent No 701,295, 3 Jun 1902, Application filed 22 Oct 1900.
  27. "Improved Incandescent Electric Lamp", Electrical Review, Vol.41, No.4, 26 Jul 1902, p.119.
  28. "Shelby Elec. Co., Holds Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Directors", The Daily Globe, 29 Aug 1902.
  29. "Photometer Attachment", Electrical World and Engineer, Vol.XLI, No.16, 18 Apr 1903, p.670.
  30. "Obituary, W.W. Skiles", American Electrician, Vol.XVI, No.2, Feb 1904, p.110.
  31. "Equality", Trade-Mark No. 59975, Registered 22 Jan 1907.
  32. "Shelbright", Trade-Mark No. 60,569, Registered 12 Feb 1907.
  33. "History of Richland County, Ohio, from 1808 to 1908 Vol.2", A.J.Baughman, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1908, p.1163.
  34. "Burial of the Late John C. Fish...", The Daily Globe, 20 Apr 1909.
  35. "History of the National Electric Lamp Company and Its Subsidiary Companies", F. S. Terry, 28 Nov 1910.
  36. "Federal Suit Against Incandescent Lamp Companies", Electrical World, Vol 57, No 10, 9 Mar 1911, pg 594.
  37. "Final Decree, United States Circuit Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, United States of America vs. General Electric Company et al", Entered 12 October 1911.
  38. "Catalog of Shelby Lamps", Published by The Shelby Electric Co., Shelby, Ohio, U.S.A., ca 1910 - 1911.
  39. "What's What in Shelby, Ohio, The Biggest Little City in the United States", 1921.
  40. "How the National Lamp Works of General Electric Company is Organized", The National-ite, Apr 1922, p.8.
  41. "The History of the Incandescent Lamp", John W. Howell and Henry Schroeder, The Maqua Company, Schenectady, NY, 1927.
  42. "A History of Nela Park, 1911-1957", Hollis L. Townsend, General Electric Co., 1957.
  43. "The Life-Voltage Exponent for Tungsten Lamps", E.J.Covington, Journal of IES, Vol 2, Jan 1973, pg 83.
  44. "Richland Co., Ohio Cemetery Records", The Richland Co. Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, 1981.
  45. "Ohio - a Giant in Electric Lamp History", Country Living, Feb 1989.
  46. "Franklin Silas Terry, 1862-1926, Industrialist, Paragon of Organization, Harmony and Generosity", E.J.Covington, 1994.
  47. "Makers of National - The Spirit and People of an Industrial Organization", E.J.Covington, 1997.
  48. "The Electric Incandescent Lamp, 1880-1925", E.J.Covington, 1998.
  49. "Incandescent Lamp Manufacturers in Cleveland, 1884-1905", E.J.Covington, 1999.
  50. "The American Family Immigration History Center", http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/sign/index.asp. (Surname = Chaillet. No first name initial).
  51. http://www.centennialbulb.org/facts.htm
  52. http://www.centennialbulb.org/ then click "video".
  53. http://www.frognet.net/~ejcov/hammer.html