Edison's breath in the Henry Ford Musem

Ford and Edison had been pals for years

Henry asked Tom’s son to collect the sample when it seemed that Edison’s bulb was about to burn out.
  • Henry asked Tom’s son to collect the sample when it seemed that Edison’s bulb was about to burn out.
  • Image by Rick Geary

Matthew: I’ve heard from some semi-reliable friends that Edison’s breath is in a container in some museum. Does this qualify for your Famous Body Parts file? What information do you have on this? Why would anyone want Edison’s breath? A million more questions come to mind. — Breathless, on the Internet

Mixed in with a lunar rover, Ming vases, a locomotive engine, and other exotica, the gargantuan Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, displays a test tube that supposedly contains the breath of Thomas Edison, exhaled as he lay on his deathbed. As the museum tells it, Henry asked Tom’s son to collect the sample when it seemed that Edison’s bulb was about to burn out. Ford and Edison had been pals for years, and Henry was fascinated by Tom’s genius. But no one seems to know the real motivation for the odd request. Don’t know that anyone’s figured out how to authenticate the item, but the museum seems satisfied.

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