It was a slow-but-steady progression to the public’s general use of gas for illumination. It was first introduced in London in 1814, made and appearance in Paris (1820) and New York (1827). Whereas the process was fairly simple, mechanics needed to be invented to make the process safe. Although gas lighting had been used for hundreds of years in various applications, and its commercial use allowed for factories to stay open later, the end result was always for gas lighting to be used in the homes.
It was in 1854 with John Shelton Mitchell (1817-1875) opened Mitchell, Bailey, and Company in his home state of Connecticut. Samuel B. H. Vance (1814-1890) had been involved with several gas fixture firms including with Mitchell Bailey. In 1860 he became co-partner and the Mitchell, Vance, and Company was created. The first official World Fair held in the United States was Centennial Exposition (May 10 to November 10, 1876) celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Mitchell, Vance and Company was stationed at the Main Exhibition Building, Bldg. #1, with exhibit #501:
The company extended beyond gas fixtures to clocks, bronzes, and lamps that are easily considered architecture. Their style is noted for extreme details, pointed features, detailed gas cocks with extensive use of fleur-de-lis, and matching finials. Most of their shades are globes with opened tops that completely encased the gas flame - different than bell or cone shaped featured heavily in movies like Gaslight (1944).
Their factory and foundry was situated between 24th and 25th Streets on Tenth Avenue in New York City.
Mitchell, Vance and Company closed shop in 1933. From the 1860s until their closing, they established themselves as a premiere source of the New York aesthetic during and after the Victorian Era. You could find them fat the Astor House, Grand Central Station, in retail establishments like Lord and Taylor, and throughout Broadway. Over 20 hotels and 10 theaters featured Mitchell, Vance and Co. fixtures.
Click HERE for PDF of Mitchell, Vance and Co's 1870-1885 Catalog PART 1 (Plates 170-244)
Click HERE for PDF of Mitchell, Vance and Co's 1870-1885 Catalog PART 2 (Church Fixtures)
Click HERE for PDF of Mitchell, Vance and Co's 1870-1885 Catalog PART 3 (Plates 419 and above)
Click HERE for PDF of Mitchell, Vance and Co's 1872 Special Catalog
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