Dr C H Williams' Lantern for testing Color Sense

Catalogue Number: 3664
Dr C H Williams' Lantern for testing Color Sense
Category: Equipment
Sub-Category: Colour Vision Test
Designer/inventor: Charles H Williams
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: c1911
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Boston, Mass. USA
Publisher/Manufacturer: Peter Gray & Sons
Description Of Item: Instrument for testing colour vision in the form of a railway lantern. Steel rectangular body with a rotating disc of 18 glass colour samples including reds, greens, blues, purple and clear. A diaphragm control operates by lifting a button on the top of the casing. A shutter can rotate to allow one or two coloured light samples to be viewed at a time. The internal surface of the disc of colours is marked 'O.K./ C.H.W./ Jan 11/ 1911', that is, the device was checked by its inventor, Charles H Williams in 1911. A brass plaque on the front is impressed 'DR C H WILLIAMS'/ LANTERN/ FOR TESTING COLOR SENSE'. Internal plate from rear door is detached but labelled 'PETER GRAY AND SONS/ MANUFACTURERS/ BOSTON, MASS.' Internal illumination was provided by 2 kerosene lanterns, now lost.
Historical Significance: The Williams Lantern was widely used in the United States to test the colour vision of railway workers. It was used in New South Wales in the first half of the 20th Century whilst the Victorian and Queensland railways used the Edridge-Green Lantern. Ref; Dain, Stephen et al, Color Vision and the Railways: Part 1. The Railway LED Lantern Test. Optometry and Vision Science, Vol 92, No 2, February 2015.
How Acquired: Purchased by Kett Museum
Date Acquired: August 2018
Condition: Complete but much surface corrosion, one internal panel loose
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 1 Overhead display

Search the archive:

Author or Inventor:
Catalogue #
Name of Donor