Vintage Patents and Ads


Site Minion
Platinum Supporter
STAFF EDIT: This is now the official Patent and Ad section. Catalogs and manuals should go in those stickies.

Skulldigger (Kelly) and I have been working on locating patents for some of our favorite vintages lights. He has found quite a few and I have began printing some on parchment style cardstock. They turn out pretty neat and add a unique touch to my light room. Pictured below are the results and some of my vintage ads that I have displayed. The ads are originals taken from old magazines; purchased from eBay member "gunfixer".

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Just Another Faceless Member
Silver Supporter
How about the thousands of patent rejection letters on JDI products submitted?


Site Veteran
I think they look great and it does add a nice touch to any collection... now where are the aerodynic and code3 sd sheets..


Site Minion
Platinum Supporter
Site is apparently having a technical issue and we lost a lot of great posts here... :(

Here is an ad I'm after... AD_Akro-Lite_FE_jun1946_LR.jpg.565461bd297898dde6bbc6287a229334.jpg
The first revolving light that I have found in patents is from Aug 28, 1917. Designed by Edward J. Thurber, this light was intended to "Provide means whereby light may be spread or distributed in the form of a revolving field or light may be radiated in any desired direction from the illuminating device point or axis. Ingenious for it's time, this light used a conical reflector and a fast rotator to distribute magnified light in 360 degrees. Although not patented, inferred or intended for emergency use, it likely has a basis in designs to follow.
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Our next innovation isn't until 27 March 1927 and it is for the first patent that I can locate specifically designed as a "Warning signal for use on public vehicles such as fire engines, ambulances, police patrols and other public and emergency vehicles. Designed by Edward C. Rumsey for Buckeye Iron and Brass Works of Dayton, Ohio, we still see variations of this light in use today. "It is the object of my invention to provide a signal which will be distinguished by reason of its peculiar rays, both as to their position, movement, and color cor combination of colors." "It is further object to provide a signal which will project its rays and beams in a plurality of directions and to so move the lamp or lamps which project these rays or beams that they will attract attention of pedestrians and motorists".

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Filed 29 Sept. 1937 patent by Robert Duncan of Chicago, Illinois for the Federal Electric Company, Inc, is the first Federal design of a Siren/Light combination. It was an innovation to enclose the siren in a housing to prevent freezing and then to add a warning light to the front. The patent wasn't finalized until 05 Nov 1940 and references a siren patent by William W. Scott on 12 Sept 1939 for the siren design. The original siren design emits the sound in all direction where this new design projects the sound frontward. The light is described as a "uni-direcional flasher lamp" mounted to the front. The intake for the siren was underneath to prevent rain and dirt from getting in easily.

Duncan 1.JPG
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Filed 11 Aug 1939 is a variation of the Federal Siren/Light combination by John C. Shellin for the Akron Brass Manufacturing Company in Wooster, Ohio. This is the first design I have found using an oscillating light. It's uniqueness for the patent was based on it's "ornamental design". I reminds one of a Buck Rogers spacecraft. I believe Tsquale is a proud owner of one of these.

Akron 1.JPG
Not to be out done, Robert Duncan for Federal Electric Company introduced and patented his Siren/Light, 04 Dec 1939, recorded 30 Dec 1941. It was an improvement of the first light above (by Duncan) by installing an oscillating light in the front with it's own motor.

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This light is seen in a 1941 Ad for Federal Electric Co.

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1946 was a big year for innovations in emergency lighting. Starting it off is a very special light and our introductory patent by Earl W. Gosswiller for Federal Enterprises (note name change). In our first free-standing light since the 1917 spinner, we find "a signal light construction wherein an entire light assembly, comprising a reflector, light source and prismatic lens, is rotated to project attractive, attention-arresting rotating beams of light". The entire lighting unit including the lens is rotated and the prismatic lenses refract the light in various directions creating a light show. The design of this light would be problematic for the collector as the light assembly was one piece like a sealed beam light. This was so the entire assembly could be rotated and not allow dust, dirt and water in to deteriorate it. I wonder if any of these exist today with a working bulb assembly.

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Our next innovation of 1946 comes from Harry O. Ricci of Dungan Hills, NY. He appears to be an independent inventor. He designed a warning light that "project a moving beam of light in such a way that a unique attention-arresting effect is produced. It was described as creating an illusion of a single stationary light with a second light source rotating around it using a single light source. He used a forward facing reflector to achieve this feat while the light itself oscillated within the housing. The lens was separate. He points out in his description that a light should be discernible form other lights such as stop lights and "the like". Most lights before his time "have fallen short" because of they merely blinked. This light projected a unique design to insure the viewer knew it was an approaching emergency vehicle.

I believe this is the original Mars 888!

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Another 1946 patent that probably is missed by most is a little invention by Lawrence B. Martin, Harold W. Eberle and George H. Fengel for Eberle and Fengel. This light was intended to replace kerosene lanterns and road flares when someone had to stop along the roadside due to trouble. Portable and battery driven, this light has a unique feature that has not shown in any other patent to this day that I have found. This light has two lamps that spin on a shaft. This appears to be the first horizontal rotating light comprised of two reflectors and two bulbs on an axis. Hand held, it was never intended or thought of, to be attached to an emergency vehicle. One must respect it's place in history, however and wonder what impact it had on the coming designs of emergency lights.

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August 1946 Federal Electric Company Ad for the Federal Model C-5 Coaster Siren. This is a low resolution copy and I can not read the details on the light, but suspect that is just a blinker.

Fed Elect Ad 1946.jpg
1947 and 1948 Federal Electric Company Ad for the Federal C-5 Coaster.

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1948 Sireno Catalog
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1949 can go down in history as the year that revolutionized emergency lighting. Thanks to Earl W. Gosswiller inventor and designer for Federal Enterprises. He filed a patent for the light that would set the standard for emergency lights. The Federal Model 17. The design of which is still used today on emergency vehicles of all kinds. The patent would not be published until 30 May 1950. The simple patent states "Figure 1 is a side elevation view of a signal light, showing my new design".

Gosswiller Mod 14 1.JPG
1949 also brought an innovation by John S. McRea of New York. His application of 16 Nov 1949 appears to be a remake of a Akron Brass Siren/ Light. This one bragged that it's new unique innovation is a movable spotlight atop the Siren/Light combination. I believe this light was actually manufactured by Sireno.

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Next we jump to 09 Apr 1951 and the patent application of Donal D. Ritchey. His application discusses the problems with current sirens that are either constantly running at a single pitch or requires the manual attention of the operator. Acknowledging the single pitch of a siren is often confused with the gears of large trucks and presents a problem for the driver of an emergency vehicle from hearing another approaching with the same siren is a dangerous problem. His invention attaches to current sirens and works off of the mechanic of the siren to regulate the inflow of air to change the pitch and to silence the siren at short intervals to allow a differentiation on sounds and approaching vehicles. What he is doing here is inventing the Wail, Yelp and HI-Lo of his time and doing it with a Federal Q type siren. Although this application was in 1951 it was not patented until 1955.

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11 Dec 1951 is the finalization of the Federal Model 17 by Earl W. Gosswiller. Improvements on the final design include "one or more continuously rotating signal lamps and means for supporting and rotating said lamp or lamps, all contained as a unit in a weatherproof housing. This is the first light with a written intention of being roof mounted rather than fender or hood.

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1952 starts with the Pyle-National Company of Chicago, Illinois and their designer Arthur C. Heehler. Reading the description of this light is definitely more complicated that it is. You would think it was the patent for the replicator on the Enterprise. From what I gather it uses a parabolic reflector and lenses that are motorized and projects multiple beams of light from a single light source. The light "produces a frustum in the light pattern having a substantial finite area which is traversed a plurality of times by the beam in the direction of the second conjugate upon each single generation of the conical surface." And that is the sentence that makes sense.. Lol..

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A September 1952 Add for Federal Lights and Siren. The Scatter Ray is an unexpected light in this ad.
Fed Elect Ad 1952.jpg

August 1952 ad for the McDermott Circle Beam. I recently saw a post on ELB where someone purchased one of these.

McDermott Ad 1952.JPG
Filed 11 Sept 1953 is some original designs of the Model 27 by Earl W. Gosswiller for Federal Sign and Signal (note name change). Uses a single light source with a spinning parabolic mirror.

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This first ad was marked 1954, for Federal Enterprises, I don't have the exact date for it. The second ad is June 1955 and is for Federal Sign and Signal. This pins down our name change to likely early 1955. SStands may have the exact date.

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Our first patent of 1955 was filed on 29 April 1955 but was not official until 1958. I post by the file date since the design existed at that time regardless of the publishing date. Invented by Eugene f. McDonald of Chicago, Ill. This light was suggested for "traffic-control vehicles such as police squad cars and the like." It was to be inconspicuous until needed. The retractable warning signal was invented.
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A newspaper article from 1960 showing this slight in service.

Ghost Light 1960.jpg
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The next big thing of 1955 was applied for on 02 June 1955 by Arthur C. Heehler and Albert E. Ganzert of Chicago for the Pyle-National Company. Very little description is given but it appears similar to the mechanism of a Federal 27.

Pyle 1.JPG Pyle 2.JPG

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