Mercury lamps give off UV light, which causes tanning, which causes skin cancer. Despite this, some people choose to expose their skin to UV artificially, so people will think they are wealthy enough to spend the winter in Barbados or something. But I digress. This old (50-60s?) lamp make by Sun-Kraft contains a huge amount of mercury, about a cubic centimeter, which is way more than typical mercury bulbs. I have no idea why, and the lamp doesn't work so I can't say whether it makes a difference.
Here is a close-up of the mercury in the bottom of the tube:
Reader Keith McIver sent me the following two links to downloadable archives of a hilarious and informative promotional film made in 1946 by the manufacturer of this lamp. It comes in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Ah, things were so simple, so optimistic back then. These days we worry about subtle issues, like the difference between when UV light is beneficial and when it's harmful. I suppose they probably worried about it back then too, just not in promotional films by the makers of UV lamps.
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 6 November, 2004
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Sample Group: Medical