Trove Tuesday – High Fire Danger

This week’s Trove Tuesday post began as a story about Magic Lanterns, the early version of the film projector, and the problems they were causing in Portland in 1914.  But a reference in the article to “celluloid collars” changed the post slightly to include another unexpected fire risk to mostly men and boys of the early 20th century.

The first article comes from the Portland Guardian of October 14, 1914.  A cheap toy Magic Lantern, or more precisely the lens of the lantern, was the curse of the mother’s of Portland boys.  The lenses, probably removed for the purpose of mischief by the boys, were burning holes in their pockets.  The whistle-blower on the events, warned that if one were placed in a celluloid collar, disaster would prevail.

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1914, October 14). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63970668

First Issue, August 20, 1842. (1914, October 14). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63970668

That got me thinking, why were celluloid collars such a risk.  While I assumed that being made from the same material as film, they would be flammable (thanks to a recent episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for that realisation), but was the danger really that great?  A Trove search found that yes they were a danger, and sometimes in the most innocent ways.  One  headline I found was “Killed by Collar of Fire” , another “Dangers of Celluloid”.  I’ve read many accounts of the risks to ladies wearing full skirts around open fires and even sparks from buggy wheels catching an overhanging skirt, but celluloid collars, it seems, were the male equivalent.

Some Horsham children were lucky that the celluloid collar they were playing with didn’t cause more damage.

A FIRE AVERTED. (1915, June 22). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72974894

A FIRE AVERTED. (1915, June 22). The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved November 25, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72974894

The photo below is of a Magic Lantern, but not a toy that the Portland boys had.  For the purpose of the demonstration, the photo of the Magic Lantern was taken in daylight, but darkness was necessary to view the projected images.

A Magic Lantern (1909).  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H2009.29/120 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/159294

A Magic Lantern (1909). Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H2009.29/120 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/159294


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers

%d bloggers like this: