a website collaboration between Science Service and the Smithsonian Institution

1958 - largest bust ever made of Thomas Alva Edison


CD 2478021 E&MP11.007

Edison, Thomas A.

APR 22 1958

The largest bust ever made of Thomas Alva Edison, the nation's most prolific inventor, is currently on view at the Franklin Institute as part of the U.S. Patent Office exhibit devoted to chemicals and synthetics.

The head was created by Italian-born Guido Rebechini of Chicago whose family were artisans dating back to the time of Michelangelo.

In the photo above, Mr. Rebechini explains detail in his work to O. Dee Harrison, an official of the McGraw-Edison Company, the concern which in part was founded by the great inventor.

Display of the Edison bust in the exhibit is particularly significant because Mr. Edison was granted 1,093 patents during his 60 years of scientific achievement --- the greatest number of patents "by far" ever issued to any individual.

His inventions include major developments like the electric light bulb, the phonograph, the nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery, the electric distribution system and even waxed paper. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of his battery.

The Edison head is more than six feet high and originally weighed over 4,000 pounds when made in clay. Later, Rebechini cast the current bust in plaster and it weighs a mere 400 pounds despite its tremendous size.

The bust was initially ordered by the McGraw-Edison Company for an exhibit at the Chicagoland Fair and is currently on loan to the Patent Office by the company.  

Original Caption by Science Service
Science Service through Marjorie Van de Water

National Museum of American History


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