Updated 10-I-2018

William Joseph Hammer

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.

William Hammer shown with part of his scientific apparatus collection, c.1900

As one of Thomas Edison's early workers, W.J. Hammer <1858-1934) was in a unique position to accumulat a history of an art - the development of the incandescent lamp. This he did with untiring zeal until his collection consisted of about 1500 lamps at the end of 1911

The Hammer Collection of Incandescent Lamps was first displayed at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. In 1913 it was displayed again in five cases on the 10th floor of the headquarters of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, in the Engineering Societies building, at 29 West 39th Street, New York City.

The collection was then owned by the Edison Association of Illuminating Companies (EAIC); a part of the collection had been purchased by the General Electric Company and presented to the EAIC. Later it was split up with a part of the collection going to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn MI, USA, and part going to IBM.

  1. "William Joseph Hammer", in The Electric Incandescent Lamp 1880-1925, E.J. Covington, GE Lighting NELA Press, Cleveland OH, 1998, p.136.