Antique L E Smith Violet-Ray Lenses - $100 (White Springs, FL)

Antique L E Smith Violet-Ray Lenses 1 thumbnailAntique L E Smith Violet-Ray Lenses 2 thumbnailAntique L E Smith Violet-Ray Lenses 3 thumbnailAntique L E Smith Violet-Ray Lenses 4 thumbnail
condition: new
make / manufacturer: L. E. Smith Glass Company
model name / number: Violet-Ray Lenses
Mt Pleasant, Pennsylvania, a few miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is situated in the heart of the coal and coke industry region and replete with additional natural resources. It was an ideal location for the energy intensive glass industry. Founded in the 1850’s, and originally located in central Pennsylvania, the Bryce Brothers Glass Company, a premiere crystal glass producer, relocated to Mt Pleasant in 1896. In October 1905, the Anchor Glass Company was incorporated and located in Mt Pleasant.

Original partners of the Bryce brothers, Frederick and James McKee, broke away and started their own glass company, the F&J McKee Company about 1854. In 1888, they moved to Jeannette (near Mt Pleasant) Pennsylvania. At first they merged with National Glass and then about 1903 broke apart and incorporated under the name McKee Jeannette Glass Company. Louis E. Smith became its manager. The ‘Panic of 1907’ caused the disruption of many banks and businesses. In August 1907, Smith with several associates incorporated L. E. Smith Glass Company to lease the McKee Jeannette factory. They began producing glass products immediately.

Also in 1907, The Anchor Glass Company, impacted by the ‘Panic’ went bankrupt. Smith acquired the Anchor Glass Mt Pleasant property and assets on 30 October 1909 for $8,400. Shortly thereafter, Smith sold the McKee Jeannette properties and relocated to Mt Pleasant. L. E. Smith Glass Company became a major innovator and producer of a wide variety glass products. On or about 1916 or 1917, Henry Ford retained L. E. Smith to produce at least 50 percent of the headlight lenses for his vehicles.

Ever since the incorporation of incandescence lights on vehicles, the bright light became an issue for oncoming drivers. Numerous inventors developed a variety of solutions. One of the earliest entrepreneurs, Emil Johanson, obtained a patent in September 1916 for a complex cut lens to redistribute the light better, thereby reducing the bright lights to the driver. McKee Glass Company received a patent for a simpler and improved design lenses in July 1918. This was followed shortly thereafter with a patent by L. E. Smith Glass Company for its Violet-Ray lens. Similar to others, the Smith lens employed a design that used the refractive index of glass to ‘bend’ the light down and to the sides. These were the lenses used by Henry Ford and many other vehicles until WW II.

I have 14 pairs of Violet-Ray lenses, all over 100 years old each in its original packaging (which varies from pair to pair). Specifically, I have 2 at 8 in., 1 at 8 & 1/8 in., 1 at 8 & ¼ in., 1 at 8 & ½ in., 7 at 8 & ¾ in., 1 at 9 in., and 1 at 9 & ¼ in. All lenses are from the earliest production, prior to Smith modifying the molds to include the patent number. The black coating on the upper inside has been and is flaking off of the lenses. You will need to re-coat them. They are sold as is. You can have any pair of lenses for $ 100 or all 14 pairs for $860. OBO

post id: 7754721028


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