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Artificial Sunshine: A Social History of Domestic Lighting (National Trust) Hardcover – 1 Jan 1999

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1999
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: National Trust (1 Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0707802881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0707802886
  • Product Dimensions: 25.3 x 19.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 806,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Why artificial sunshine? Today we can light our homes at the flick of a switch, turning night into day. Only when things go wrong, like a power cut, can we appreciate the experience of our ancestors, who after sunset, had to shut down their working lives. For the poor, the source of light was from the hearth, supplemented by rushlight, tallow dip and oil lamps. The rich could light their homes with candles of wax, but contemporary accounts make clear that sumptuous lighting was only used on special occasions. All this changed with the arrival in the early nineteenth century of gas lighting. It was the industrial revolution that provided the incentive to make radical improvements to lighting: cottage industries and manufactories had to continue production beyond nightfall. Gas lighting was installed in factories, shops and on the streets, permitting a social life after dark for citizens and town dwellers. Gas lighting was also installed in homes, though the highest echelons of society regarded it as rather common. They put away their oil lamps and candlesticks with the development of electric lighting.

Maureen Dillon traces the fascinating history of domestic lighting, explaining the technological developments, providing, providing the social context, and detailing the changes in style and design of fittings. She draws upon the remarkable range of light fittings offered by the National Trust's collection of historic houses, from rushlights at Moseley Old Hall to exquisite chandeliers at Saltram, from dark lanterns and lace enhancers at Toenend to electric jewellery at Cragside. At the end of the nineteenth century, it would have been possible for a visitor to Britain to see all the lighting technologies described above. At the start of the twenty-first century, we can only wonder at the lifestyle of our forefathers, vividly described by Joseph Swan, the developer of the electric light bulb, as the 'dark ages'.

Owners of historic houses, big and small, old and not so old, will find the survey of light fittings and their attachments and accoutrements invaluable The social context of lighting will be of great interest even to the non-technological reader For visitors to National Trust houses, this book will provide the means to recognise and understand domestic lighting in all its various forms

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the history of domestic lighting. It was informative but easy to read and full of lovely photographs. I found it an invaluable tool for a presentation I was preparing for an interview with the National Trust.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A very surprising book 30 April 2009
By Christopher Diglio - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The only reason I purchased this book was because I needed to do some research on artificial lighting for my literature term paper. However, once I started to read it I could not put it down. I never thought of artificial lighting the way I do now because this book goes into detail about how different types of light have throughtout history have helped make the world as we know it today. Give it a try it is well worth the money.
Nice and interesting book 14 Nov. 2013
By Svein Solhjell - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting book. The author has a bit to many references to National Trust houses. She could have Limited these references to when she also has a picture to show.
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