Marine History Collection - Sambro Lighthouse Lens

The Art of Lighthouse Optics

Modern navigational beacons function extremely well. But artistically, they can’t hold a candle to their predecessors. This beautiful First Order Fresnel lens was rescued from the scrap heap by Niels Jannasch, founding director of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. It comes from the Sambro Island lighthouse at the entrance to Halifax Harbour – the oldest surviving lighthouse in the New World. Installed in 1906, its ingenious system of crystal prisms, designed by French optical scientist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, could send a sweeping beam of light up to 17 nautical miles out to sea. The lens was replaced by a more efficient airport-style electric beacon in 1967.

Object type: 
Lens - Lighthouse
Object #: 
Collection name: 
Date (age/made): 
Paris, France
Type of Construction: Crystal glass prisms set in bronze frames
2.8 metres high 1.76 metres wide