Updated 22-XII-2018

Dr. Otto Feuerlein

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.

Dr. Otto Feuerlein, about 1885

St. Gallen, Switzerland was the birthplace of Otto Feuerlein. He was born on 11 December 1863 and was one of seven children. By way of education and work experience he was a physicist, electrical engineer and one who was involved in incandescent lamp production. His lamp work followed the development accomplished by Werner von Bolton.

The results obtained by Dr. W. Bolton and Dr. O. Feuerlein regarding the tantalum lamp can be found in an English translation of an article that was read before the Elektrotechnischer Verein of Berlin on 17 January 19051. The first part of the paper is by Bolton and the second part by Feuerlein.

The life of the tantalum lamp, as well as the osmium lamp, was short lived as a product due to the appearance of the superior tungsten filament lamp. The tantalum lamp was successful in the United States whereas the osmium lamp was used mainly in Europe.

The name of Franklin Silas Terry is associated with many "firsts," and the idea of managers gathering from across the United States for a week of fun and fellowship was one of those important firsts. They met at different locations for a few years but then settled permanently for Association Island. The island is located in Lake Ontario, about three miles off the mainland of New York State. The first year of meeting there was in 1907. That year an invitation was sent to Otto Feuerlein to attend. A facsimile of the invitation is shown below.

In an unpublished manuscript titled Association Island, written by William Merrick, the following remarks were made:
"The most distinguished guest of the 1907 camp was Dr. O. Feuerlein of Berlin, Germany, the chief exponent of the 'tantalum' lamp. The good doctor, one of the finest minds in the lighting industry in the entire world proved to be an exceptionally amiable guest. He was a good story teller and a good sport, an excellent fisherman and an accomplished trencherman. During the infrequent business sessions - informal affairs that 2,3 or a dozen lamp men might hold whenever the mood struck them - Dr. Feuerlein proved a fascinating conversationalist who was eminently qualified to speak authoritatively on many of the most difficult problems in the lampmaking industry. The 1907 committee in charge of arrangements struck off on a glowing testimonial in honor of Dr. Feuerlein signed by J. C. Fish, the President of N.E.L.A. and H. B. Vanzwoll, Secretary of N.E.L.A."
The reading of the invitation is as follows:
"This-is-to-certify: that we have found Dr. O. Feuerlein of Berlin, Germany, a most estimable gentleman, possessing in a marked degree those rare endowments of geniality and adaptability which signify good-fellowship; and on account of these exceptional qualifications has been unanimously elected an Honorary Member of the National Electric Lamp Association. Dr. Feuerlein is hereby extended a cordial invitation to attend the Annual Summer Outings of the Association which are held at Camp National on Association Island, Lake Ontario, United States of America. In testimony of our sincere regard and lasting friendship we herewith cause the Great National Seal to be affixed and attach hereto the signatures of our Worthy Officials."
J. C. Fish, President - H. B. Vanzwoll, Secretary
Otto Feuerlein passed away in Berlin on 19 May 1930.

References & Bibliography
  1. "The Tantalum Lamp", Dr. W. von Bolton & Dr. O. Feuerlein, Electrician, London, No.1393, Vol.LIV No.15, 27 Jan 1905.
    This article is a translation, courtesy of Mr. Alexander Siemens, of a paper read before the Elektrotechnischer Verein of Berlin on 17 Jan 1905.
  2. "Electric Incandescent Lamp", Otto Feurlein, US Patent 819,009, 24 Apr 1906.
  3. "The Tantalum Lamp", F. W. Willcox, General Electric Review, Vol.10, 1908, pp.331-335.
  4. "Process of Mounting Metallic Filaments on Filament-Carriers of Incandescent Lamps", Otto Feuerlein & Marcello von Pirani, US Patent 1,144,114, 22 Jun 1915.
  5. "Association Island", William Merrick, unpublished first draft manuscript. Text written about 1953.
  6. Wikipedia Page on Otto Feuerlein