Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

I've been contacted by someone who found what they believed was a pre-Lava Wave device, possibly a product made by the patent owners. Having seen the patent and the photos, I think they're correct: this may be one of the, if not THE, earliest produced Wave displays!

The patent is no. 3,613,264, filed Oct. 63, 1969 and granted Oct. 19, 1971, to Mssrs. Joseph A. Vitka and James D. Murphy, assignors to Motionetics, Inc. of Endicott, NY. The patent details the Wave cell with which we're familiar, and places it in a long rectangular base. The motion is created in a different way that we're used to: there's the usual offset pivot, but a motor drives a rotaing wedge, and the alternating high and low of its edge raises and lowers the vessel. I suspect this was a friction-heavy arrangement that put a lot of wear on the motor, hence the produced version using the revolving eccentric cam we're used to seeing. The patent also includes the bubble trap in one end cap, and says that this is some sort of safe-expansion device for changes in pressure.

The actual unit seems to have been produced by Motionetics, it carries that label. The base is a rectangular routed piece of wood, open straight through top-to-bottom, with a chunk removed where the motor mounts with a bent segment of steel plate. There is also a metal crossbar which acts as the pivot, and the vessel has a rider to rest on this, which is glued to the bottom surface. The Wave vessel's caps are larger and more square than later versions, and the wave liquid is nearly clear, probably from age and/or sun exposure. One cap has a notch which fits around the fill plug. The 8-RPM motor is dated 1969 and the label says, "Patent Pending," so I suspect this was manufactured before 1971. Who knows how long these were produced, or how and when Lava ended up taking over.

Some photos would probably help. Here is the complete "The Wave" by Motionetics, Inc.

Base from the top. This side has a U-shaped cross-section, since the ends of the Wave vessel dip below its upper edge. The pivot rod has plastic washers at either end to keep the vessel centered so it doesn't rub the wood sides and derail itself.

Base from the bottom. Quite the complex piece of woodwork, but with a really simple exterior.

Here's a close-up of the cover on the back of the motor.

And a shot of the plastic pivot rider.

This is the fill plug, with the cap notched to fit around it, presumably to hide it from view when seen from the front, very clever.

Aaand, last but not least, that wonderful vintage label! Dare you to find another of these.

In my opinion, this device is one of the coolest recent finds; an item so rare, no one even knew they existed!

The owner found this at an estate sale. They're interested in selling it, but I don't believe they're thinking "gold mine"; they're interested in seeing it go to someone who understands what it is and who values it as a rare historical beginning to a much-loved Lava Brand product. They'll be creating an account very soon and adding their comments here.

I hope you enjoy the eye candy as much as I did. If I could pay a good price, I'd love to own this thing, but I think there are several people here on OG who probably deserve it more and can give it the place of honor it deserves.

~ Jonas

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Thanks for the added exposure. It is greatly appreciated.

HughesWaveMachines said:

TRC, I added your video to my YouTube channel and linked to the auction. I have a good size database of people, so maybe it will get some traffic to your auction..

Link for the video for this "wave":

Pre lava wave

If this doesn't go starting at $499, it might be better to start it low first. I see that a lot in live auctions: they'll start an item at $200, get no bids, drop to $100 and get nothing, drop to $20 and people start bidding... and it ends at well over $200.

True Jones but for a item like this I don't think its worth taking the gamble and starting it at $20 as what if it does go for 20 - 70 dollars. There might not be much interest in this item as its so different from the LW waves so that's why I don't think you should drop the price really low.

Its a bit like putting a imperial on Ebay for a $10 starting bid and knowing what it is really worth.

Jonas Clark-Elliott said:

If this doesn't go starting at $499, it might be better to start it low first. I see that a lot in live auctions: they'll start an item at $200, get no bids, drop to $100 and get nothing, drop to $20 and people start bidding... and it ends at well over $200.

I would start it at a penny with a reserve price if you are concerned about what it will sell for.  Just say what the reserve price is in the description.  Reserve auctions aren't the greatest, but it does offer some protection and you still get the attention from all the bids due to the low starting price. 


I'm starting to think I may have something to do with the cost of waves being driven up.  I have a large database (700+) of pre production customers that are notified when I sell a Lava machine, so supply vs demand drive the price and I have sold a LOT of waves in the last few years.  When I started out in 09, $150 for an Adriatic was SOMETHING.  Now they sell for $375 all the way up to a NIB for $720.  I see a lot of sellers posting waves after mine sell with a high starting price or BIN and the unit does not sell because the demand is no longer there.  Your best bet would be to start out lower and make it a 10 day auction with a reserve.

It didn't sell - did the seller then drop off the face of the earth?

Sorry, been busy and waiting for transaction to finalize. Yup, it sold.

How much did you sell it for TRC and do you know if it was to somone on hear or another collector etc.

Sold it on eBay for the starting bid. They didn't mention seeing it here or being a collector.

I am selling one similar to this here is the link. http://www.ebay.com/itm/300843020111?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_...

I have one like this and I am selling it on ebay.  It is an antique.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/300843020111?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_...

Sorry, NOT similar. Still uncommon.

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