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Adolphe A. Chaillet


Proffessor Chaillet

If you could say the Bulb had a father, it would have to be Professor Adolphe A. Chaillet, the inventor of the improved filament that has allowed this little bulb to burn on into the future. I'm sure beyond what even he could imagine.

Little is known of his early years other than he was born in 1867 in France. He was working in his fathers factory in Paris, France making incandescent lamps prior to 1878. Then he was in charge of the largest laboratory in Germany, the Schaefer Co., where he assisted in making filaments and remodelling the factory.

When he came to the USA, in 1892, he worked for a few companies in Mass. He was known as not only an electrician of extensive experience and knowledge, but was a thorough chemist and mineralogist.

In 1896 Prof. A.A.Chaillet was convinced, by several businessmen, that he could run his own factory in Shelby, Ohio. He turned around and demonstrated to them, and some electrical consultants, how he would use an entirely new method to produce an incandescent lamp superior to anything on the market. The factory was built, and he was made Technical Manager.

Adolphe Chaillet at the factory

An amazing test was conducted to verify the claims of his bulbs life, and efficiency. The new Shelby lamp and its competitors were burned at a gradually increased voltage constituting what is known as a forced life test. 'Lamp after lamp of various makes burned out and exploded until the laboratory was lighted alone by the Shelby lamp, not one of the Shelby lamps having been visibly injured by the extreme severity of this conclusive test.'

He was on their Board of Directors until August, 1902, when he was not re-elected. Also in 1902 Prof. Chaillet received a patent on the bulb most recognised as the "Shelby" bulb. The idea behind the design was to radiate a large portion of light in a downward direction when the lamp was burned base-up.

Little is known of what happened to him and his family after that. There is some indication he went to Mexico City and produced some Chaillet lamps from 1904-1914.

Of his family, he was married to Maud L. Bickmore of Massachusetts shortly after coming to America. His first son, Alexander B., was born Nov 1896; Arnold, August, 1898; and Catherine, Jan. 1899.

Catherine & Alexander Chaillet

Surviving Chaillet Family

His Grandson, Alexander B. Chaillet Jr., and Great-Grandson Alex are proud to keep the memory of his achievements alive.

According to Alex Jr., his father became separated from his family and was lost at an early age. They searched for information on Adolphe for years, and it wasn't until 2001 he found the connection.

A year later he followed a link from this website and found his Grandfather! It was like he left a light burning for them, so they could find him. Amazing!

Later they were contacted by Ed Covington who did a biography on their Grandfather, and gave them a Shelby Bulb!

After that, they visited the Shelby Museum in Shelby, Ohio, and met Ms. Sally Maier who showed them around town, and the Chaillet house.

If anyone else has information as to the where the rest of the Chaillet family ended up, they would be greatful for the information.

What an amazing legacy!


As a final note a special thanks to Edward Covington for making this Tribute page possible.

No wonder these lights keep burning!

click to enlarge

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