Cream and amber celluloid lamp, 1938.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A lamp of High Art Deco design, complete with fluorescent tube and modelled on the beacon on top of the Empire State Building, New York City. Celluloid, like Parkesine, is based on cellulose nitrate and includes camphor as a plasticiser, making moulding easier. It was patented in the United States in 1870. Early applications included billiard balls and small decorative items, which often imitated ivory or tortoiseshell. Once produced in thin film form, celluloid made the development of cinema posible. Made by the All-Lite Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois.