The shelves on the remainder of the upper gallery and part of those on the first gallery are filled with
countless thousands of specimens of ores and minerals of every conceivable kind gathered from all parts of the world, and all tagged and numbered. The remaining shelves of the first gallery are filled with current numbers (and some back numbers) of the numerous periodicals to which Edison subscribes. Here may be found the popular magazines, together with those of a technical nature relating to electricity, chemistry, engineering, mechanics, building, cement, building materials, drugs, water and gas, power, automobiles, railroads, aeronautics, philosophy, hygiene, physics, telegraphy, mining, metallurgy, metals, music, and others; also theatrical weeklies, as well as the proceedings and transactions of various learned and technical societies.
The first impression received as one enters on the main floor of the library and looks around is that of noble proportions and symmetry as a whole. The open central space of liberal dimensions and height, flanked by the galleries and relieved by four handsome electric-lighting fixtures suspended from the ceiling by long chains, conveys an idea of lofty spaciousness; while the huge open fireplace, surmounted by a great clock built into the wall, at one end of the room, the large rugs, the arm-chairs scattered around, the tables and chairs in the alcoves, give a general air of comfort combined with utility. In one of the larger alcoves, at the sunny end of the main hall, is Edison's own desk, where he may usually be seen for a while in the early morning hours looking over his mail or otherwise busily working on matters requiring his attention.
At the opposite end of the room, not far from the open fireplace, is a long table surrounded by swivel desk-chairs. It is here that directors' meetings are sometimes held, and also where weighty matters are often discussed by Edison at conference with his closer associates. It has been the privilege of the writers to be present at some of these conferences, not only as participants, but in some cases as lookers- on while awaiting their turn. On such occasions an interesting opportunity is offered to study Edison in his intense and constructive moods. Apparently oblivious to everything else, he will listen with concentrated mind and close attention, and then pour forth a perfect torrent of ideas and plans, and, if the occasion calls for it, will turn around to the table, seize a writing-pad and make sketch after sketch with lightning-like rapidity, tearing off each sheet as filled and tossing it aside to the floor. It is an ordinary indication that there has been an interesting meeting when the caretaker about fills a waste-basket with these discarded sketches.
Directly opposite the main door is a beautiful marble statue purchased by Edison at the Paris Exposition in 1889, on the occasion of his visit there. The statue, mounted on a base three feet high, is an allegorical representation of the supremacy of electric light over all other forms of illumination, carried out by the life-size figure of a youth with half-spread wings seated upon the ruins of a street gas-lamp, holding triumphantly high above his head an electric incandescent lamp. Grouped about his feet are a gear-wheel, voltaic pile, telegraph key, and telephone. This work of art was executed by A. Bordiga, of Rome, held a prominent place in the department devoted to Italian art at the Paris Exposition, and naturally appealed to Edison as soon as he saw it.
In the middle distance, between the entrance door and this statue, has long stood a magnificent palm, but at the present writing it has been set aside to give place to a fine model of the first type of the Edison poured cement house, which stands in a miniature artificial lawn upon a special table prepared for it; while on the floor at the foot of the table are specimens of the full-size molds in which the house will be cast.
The balustrades of the galleries and all other available places are filled with portraits of great scientists and men of achievement, as well as with pictures of historic and scientific interest. Over the fireplace hangs a large photograph showing the Edison cement plant in its entire length, flanked on one end of the mantel by a bust of Humboldt, and on the other by a statuette of Sandow, the latter having been presented to Edison by the celebrated athlete after the visit he made to Orange to pose for the motion pictures in the earliest days of their development. On looking up under the second gallery at this end is seen a great roll resting in sockets placed on each side of the room. This is a huge screen or curtain which may be drawn down to the floor to provide a means of projection for lantern slides or motion pictures, for the entertainment or instruction of Edison and his guests. In one of the larger alcoves is a large terrestrial globe pivoted in its special stand, together with a relief map of the United States; and here and there are handsomely mounted specimens of underground conductors and electric welds that were made at the Edison Machine Works at Schenectady before it was merged into the General Electric Company. On two pedestals stand, respectively, two other mementoes of the works, one a fifteen-light dynamo of the Edison type, and the other an elaborate electric fan--both of them gifts from associates or employees.
In noting these various objects of interest one must not lose sight of the fact that this part of the building is primarily a library, if indeed that fact did not at once impress itself by a glance at the well- filled unglazed book-shelves in the alcoves of the main floor. Here Edison's catholic taste in reading becomes apparent as one scans the titles of thousands of volumes ranged upon the shelves, for they include astronomy, botany, chemistry, dynamics, electricity, engineering, forestry, geology, geography, mechanics, mining, medicine, metallurgy, magnetism, philosophy, psychology, physics, steam, steam-engines, telegraphy, telephony, and many others. Besides these there are the journals and proceedings of numerous technical societies; encyclopaedias of various kinds; bound series of important technical magazines; a collection of United States and foreign patents, embracing some hundreds of volumes, together with an extensive assortment of miscellaneous books of special and general interest. There is another big library up in the house on the hill--in fact, there are books upon books all over the home. And wherever they are, those books are read.
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