The Magic Introduction Company
Elias B. Koopman's Pocket Lamp,
Pat. no. 414,058, October 29, 1889
is an obscure company that has a connection to lighting that recently caught my eye. While there is not much information on The Magic Introduction Company per se, there is considerable documentation about the later incarnations of that company: the American Mutoscope Company, formed on December 27th 1895, which later became American Mutoscope & Biograph Company. While I will not go to much detail on the company, it is clear that this firm was one of the forerunners in American cinematography, pioneering camera equipment, lighting techniques and creative expression.
According to an advertisement dated 1894, The Magic Introduction Company was located at 321 Broadway, New York, New York. They manufactured magical toys, still banks and optical novelties, including subminiature "spy" cameras. The Photoret Watch Camera depicted in the left margin bears the patent dates July 25 and November 28, 1893. It took a six exposure disc film and sold for $2.50 in 1894.
One of the principals of The Magic Introduction Company, Elias Bernard Koopman, (b. 1860, d. 1929) was granted patent number 414,058 on October 29, 1889 (see photo above). His invention for a "pocket lamp" is in effect an early incarnation of the cigarette lighter. This patent was not assigned. A little more than one year later, on November 11, 1890, Elias B. Koopman and William W. McKenney were granted patent number 440,265, for a similar pocket lamp. This patent was assigned to The Magic Introduction Company. In the patent document they write:
This invention relates to that class
of lamps or lighting devices which are
designed to be carried in the pocket,
and may be used for lighting cigars,
lamps, gas-burners, and many other
For additional patent information, and to view the actual patents, see the patent table
Kerosene Burner Lighter or Igniter by
The Magic Introduction Company, New York
Pictured at right is an interesting item, the Magic Lighter
, made by The Magic Introduction Company. It is a lighting device or igniter for a kerosene lamp burner. Patents for devices like these were plentiful, dating back to the late 1860's - ingeniously conceived from the very beginning of the kerosene era. Unfortunately, few examples exist today and it would be quite rare to find one in the marketplace. This lighter bears the following seven patent dates:
- November 27, 1877
- August 6, 1878
- November 12, 1878
- May 25, 1880
- September 10, 1882
- May 31, 1881
- October 10, 1882
This lighter is precisely pictured and described in a patent granted to William W. McKenney on August 2, 1892, almost a full ten years after the above patent dates. This is U.S. Patent number 480,207 and was assigned to The Magic Introduction Company. The patent diagram shows that this lighter can be used with both gas lamps, with an adapter that attaches to the burner tip, as well as be fitted to a kerosene lamp burner, as seen in the image below.
HB&H VOLUNTEER Burner fitted with
W.W. McKenney's patent igniter,
Pat. No. 480,207 - August 2, 1892
The burner pictured is a Holmes, Booth & Haydens
VOLUNTEER model, adapted for use with the lighter.
This particular one used a roll of fulminate of mercury caps for ignition.
The caps were placed on a pin in the enlarged end, threaded around a roller on the tip, then back to the large end where they were attached to a slot in the pin of the thumb turn. To light a lamp, the user would advance the strip of fulminate caps with the winder which would cause sparks and ignite the fuel.
The May 31, 1881 patent corresponds to patent number 242,373 which was granted to Israel M. Rose
for a similar lighting device. Rose is a patent holder for a number patents, including at least five for lighting devices. A lamp burner incorporating another of Rose's patents, number 536,446, dated March 26, 1895 is depicted below. This burner was manufactured by The Manhattan Brass Company
Manhattam Brass Burner w/ I.M. Rose patent igniter, 536,446, March 26, 1895
Photo: Hugh Pribell
Additional research is needed to locate the other patents and determine their relevance to the igniter. The patent list below lists Elias B. Koopman's patents and those of Israel M. Rose. I have included John H. Farrel's patent number, 439,578 , relating to the Reliable Pocket Lamp
, dated October 28, 1890. On the interior is stamped Manufactured by the Consolidated Fruit Jar Co. While this bears no connection to The Magic Introduction Company, it will give the reader another example of the products manufactured during this time period. This lighter still has some if its original caps intact. This type of roll or strip caps is similar to what The Magic Introduction Company igniter shown above would have used. There is a significant number of lighting device patents not listed. Should the reader be interested in additional patent information, here's a great place to begin your research
To view the complete patent, select the patent you wish to view, then click Query USPTO Database. This will take you to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Database. You are then just two mouse clicks away from viewing the actual patent. Learn more about the USPTO here.
- International Cinematographers Guild, http://www.cameraguild.com
- Who's Who of Victorian Cinema, http://www.victorian-cinema.net
- Cinetext.net, http://www.cinetext.net/timeline/1895.htm