THE ELECTRIC LIGHT, SO FAVOURABLE TO FURNITURE, WALL PAPERS, PICTURES, SCREENS, &c. IS NOT ALWAYS BECOMING TO THE FEMALE COMPLEXION. LIGHT JAPANESE SUNSHADES WILL BE FOUND INVALUABLE.
Punch, July 20, 1889
... it seems worthwhile to point out with
greater fulness the nature and extent of the dangers which may arise from these
inventions. These advertisements are often lighted by powerful electric lights,
and during the 10 or 20 seconds in which the lights are turned on they
brilliantly illuminate the part of the street in which they are placed. Suddenly
this brilliant light is turned off, and the streets are left in that condition
of semi-darkness which the nearest gas-lamp is wont to produce. The result of
this sudden transition is obvious. If we suddenly pass from brilliant sunshine
into a dimly-lighted room it is a matter of common knowledge that for the first
half minute or more we are quite unable to see anything. The eye takes an
appreciable time to accommodate itself to the altered conditions. So it is with
these most dangerous advertisements. For a few seconds everything is as bright
as day. Then in a moment we plunge into what appears to be complete darkness. If
we are so unfortunate as to find ourselves in the middle of the roadway when the
light is turned off we have an excellent chance of never reaching the pavement
except on a stretcher. The foot-passengers cannot see; the drivers cannot see;
the horses cannot see, and, moreover, they are often rendered nervous by the
sudden change from light to darkness ...
We should like to have the opinion of the policeman on duty at some point where a flash-light advertisement is in operation as to the additional difficulties which it causes him. A constable on duty, say, at the top of Sloane Street has none too easy a task in regulating the traffic even when all the conditions are favourable and he has a steady light to see by. But place him at intervals of 20 seconds in the full glare of a powerful electric light and then in what appears by contrast to be total darkness and he is practically helpless. A man cannot regulate the traffic when he cannot see it. And yet this very point, the top of Sloane Street, a narrow and very crowded thoroughfare where several lines of traffic converge, has been selected for one of these electrically-lighted advertisements. It seems to us astounding that such a state of things should be permitted. It should be possible to find methods of advertising a tobacco, a beef tea, or a patent medicine which are not actually dangerous to the safety of the community ...
The Lancet, 1898