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Star Wars snafu? Turns out, Luke’s lightsaber was really made in… New York

By Josh Weiss
Luke Skywalker Return of the Jedi

For the longest time, we thought lightsabers in Star Wars originated in the Kyber crystal mines on Jedha when we really should have been focusing on Rochester, New York.

According to Pablo Hidalgo, an eagle-eyed member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, you can divine that Graflex (a famous camera maker) is the true manufacturer of Luke Skywalker's lightsaber during the wampa cave scene in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back.

"I've noted this before, but every time I watch a Star Wars movie, there's something new to notice," wrote Hidalgo in a Twitter post earlier this week. "Especially if I'm fortunate to catch it on the big screen. This latest discovery? that 'NEW YORK' is visible on the bottom of Luke's lightsaber in EMPIRE."

Using this information, SYFY WIRE looked through its own copy of the film and confirmed that the observation is, in fact, true—clear as day, even! It's a little surprising (albeit exciting) that this little goof, which director Irvin Kershner and his crew may have overlooked or ignored, has remained undiscovered for so long.

Founded in the late 1800s by William F. Folmer and William E. Schwing, Graflex was most well-known for developing several models of cameras, particularly of the bulky, flashbulb variety used by old-timey reporters you see in period movies. In the early 1900s, the company came under the ownership of George Eastman's Kodak.

By the late 1970s, flashbulb cameras were pretty much obsolete, but that didn't mean they couldn't be used in other ways. Case in point: The silver lightsaber handle prop in A New Hope was simply a repurposed flashgun used to house the disposable lightbulb for a Graflex Speed Graphic. The movie's set decorator, Roger Christian, is credited with the idea.

Check out what a flashgun looks like in its original state on the left in the photo below:

Graflex camera

Today, replicas of that original Graflex design are made by places like Maker Prop Studio Ltd. and sell for nearly $200 a pop. Newer editions, one of which is a "Sequel Trilogy Edition," are on the way and will cost around $248 each.

The next big-screen adventure in the galaxy far, far away will take place on Dec. 20, when J.J. Abrams' Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters everywhere.