Friday, April 09, 2010

Ives Difraction Spectroscope

Chrispy found on-line an old 1906 factory catalog for a similar items as HPL used in 1906-7.

"On Dec. 24, 1906 ... procured a diffraction spectroscope by Ives. The object was to observe the condition of the atmosphere with respect to aquous vapor. It is well known that atmospheric moisture causes a dark shaded band, called the "Rain Band", in the solar spectrum nead the "D" line. This band, with respect to intensity, is observed daily, and is an index to coming rain, far superior to the hygrometer ...", H P Lovecraft in his 1906 "Third Annual Report of the Prov. Meteorological Station"

The C-137 model was the Ives Innovative Spectrocope (pictured) No. 1, was $45.00. In addition, one might need extra eyepieces at $2.00, or cross line eye piece for $6.00.

Version 2 was the same as No. 1 with the addition of an extra front, circular screen, and tripod focusing glass. Cost $10.50.

These were staggering sums of money. Except for some meager money that MIGHT have come from writing newspaper articles, he had only his $2500.00 inheritance money (from 1904), and some (?) incidental incomes.

The timing of Christmas Eve is probably not a coincidence, but did he buy it, did Susan buy it, did Dr. Clark, or Professor Upton, or some other agency purchase this new and expensive device? Alas, we shall not know except to agree that this was not only expensive, but high grade equipment Lovecraft was using. It was not to be trifled with, and HPL knew what he was doing.

While this brochure is from Chicago, one suspects that the one out of Boston or elsewhere would have read with similar information. Lovecraft would have been eying for some time, one suspects.

As a comparison, here are some 1906 statistics on wages and costs.
The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour.
The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

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