To be filed under “How Did This Ever Survive?” is a box containing 23 glass light bulbs used by Thomas Edison in a 1890 court battle to defend his patent on them. They will be auctioned this month, with expected bids being around $600,000!
The case which Edison was fighting (Edison Electric Light Company vs. United States Electric Light Company) is considered one of the most important technology infringment cases in history. After the case, famous rich guy J.P Morgan helped formulate General Electric Company out of a merger of Edison’s company and a rival firm. However, the bulbs are surrounded by an intrigue that surpasses being merely owned by Edison. They are fabled to have disappeared during the patent trial (perhaps stolen by the defense?) and miraculously re-appeared in someone’s attic in 2002, complete with the original case and key. What happened during all that time, and how they ended up in a random attic, nobody knows.