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Before Dual Filament Headlights

During the early years of automotive history, the invention of the dual filament light bulb had not emerged.  Therefore, there was no high and low beam headlight bulb on cars and trucks.  Only one beam existed for night driving.

This created a problem with the headlight beam from an on-coming vehicle on the narrow roads in town and country driving.  It was not until the late 1920’s that the two filament headlight bulbs came from the factory on new vehicles.

The attached photos show a great example of American Ingenuity sold in some vehicle parts stores during the 1920’s.  It is an electrical rheostat that allowed the driver to lessen the amount of light from the headlight.  This accessory was mounted on the steering column.  By moving the long lever with a finger, the driver could regulate bulb lighting.  How ingenious!  This very attractive assembly was recently found in an old trunk.   The unit is nickel plated as chrome was not yet available during these early years.  It is a very high quality part.

The price was $7.50, very expensive considering most workers made less than $1.00 per hour.   The sales company is shown to be the Universal Distributing Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

No doubt, the sales were limited due to the price but also because of a human trait.  Yes, the vehicle owner could lessen his light on the road but chances are good, the on-coming vehicle did not have one of these inventions.  The person that had spent the money on this accessory still received just as much light in his eyes from on-coming vehicles while he suddenly had less lighting from his vehicle!

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