Lights Out!

On Monday I mentioned that AK and I had a particularly successful weekend of vintage picking. Well today I got around to poking through the plunder and came across a find that he picked out. During the estate sale he picked it up and asked me if we should buy it. Having no idea what it was—and being in the midst of estate-sale-frenzy—I put it in our basket and figured we'd buy now and ask questions later. Hey, that should be our new slogan: Buy now, Ask later.

So here it is. And before reading on, do you think you know what it is and what it was used for?

It appears to be some sort of light bulb, based on the threaded end. The label on the bulb reads "Wabash Blackout Unit For Blackout Lighting". Must be something for photography darkrooms, right?

Imagine my surprise when I did some research and determined that it's a light bulb from World War II! During the war, in vulnerable cities, households were advised to turn off their lights in evenings so they wouldn't be detected by the enemy. In order to provide a small amount of light in homes during these times, several light bulb manufacturers produced blackout lights. The bulbs are coated in black, except for a small circle of diffused light emitting from the tip. It was just enough light for households to complete small tasks.

Today, with fingers crossed, I screwed the bulb into a socket and hoped I wasn't about to burn my house down. Incredibly, after 70 years, the bulb still emits an orange glow! Even though I sell most of our vintage finds, this is one piece we'll hang on to and are happy to share its history.