Menu Close

Lippmann Photograph of an Arc Lamp Spectrum

Unidentified · Physics

A photograph of the spectrum of an arc lamp. The item is enclosed in a green-brown snakeskin effect padded case with purple velvet lining. The photograph is set in a glass case that is taped with black tape around the rim. Within the case is a small plate with black around the rim and a rectangular section in the centre which shows a rainbow effect at one end when viewed under white light.

Accession Number:

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Glass, Paper


On the reverse of the glass it reads, “Lippmann Photograph of the spectrum of the arc light. Photograph at the Battersea Polytechnical, London, by Edgar Senior, November 1906”, and is signed by Senior.

Dimensions (cm):

Slide Height = 1; Width = 8.5, Length = 6.5


Demonstrating the recorded spectrum of an arc lamp.


Good: The exterior of the case is very worn and split in a few places; the worst split is directly across the top of the lid, and there is a small split in the cover just above the latch mechanism. The top of the case is very faded, the bottom less so. The latch is still functional.

The velvet lining of the case is in good condition, neither faded nor worn. The glass case and paper tape holding it closed is in very good condition with little sign of wear or use. The plate inside is crackling, particularly across the black surround; however, the top half of the spectrum section is also beginning to crackle.

Associated Instruments:


Edgar Senior at the Battersea Polytechnic Institute, London

Date of Manufacture: Nov. 1906


Additional Information and References:

“Lippmann photographs” were an early colour photography method developed by Gabriel Lippman in 1891; Lippman was awarded the 1908 Physics Nobel Prize for his invention.

Edgar Senior, with Alexander Tallent and Thomas Bolas was the author of a 1900 photography book entitled “A Handbook of Photography in Colours”, suggesting he was an expert in early colour photography. Battersea Polytechnic was the forerunner of the University of Sussex, in England; possibly, Senior was a faculty member.

Historical Notes: