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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Golden Glow

Before electricity and after, a home could be seen with a warm glow from their windows.      The Golden Glow of Oil Lamps. 

This is an Aladdin "Washington Drape" Oil Lamp and has been converted for electricity.

You may find this information as a surprise, even until the 1940's many rural or remote areas still used oil lamps for their lighting needs, and of course today Amish communities still use oil lamps.

These antiques, oil lamps, are still very useful today, just experience a blackout for a period of time and you will agree.

Even when not actually needed they provide a wonderful soft glowing light, especially on a cold winters night. Cozy up, turn off the lights and light up an oil lamp or two, maybe even put a log in the fireplace, you will be amazed how warm, cozy, and soothing it can be.

Since so many continued using oil lamps past the availability of electricity in their home many have survived and thankfully so. Some people loved their old oil lamps so much they converted them into electric lamps, plus many found this as practical and did not desire to throw useful items away. You see recycling or repurposing as they call it today, has always been around.

Oil lamps were made using just about any material you can think of, glass, metals, cast iron, animal bone, yes even wood, and many improvements were made in the types of oil used. Originally whale oil was used and even a dangerous and potentially explosive mixture of turpentine and alcohol.


In England in 1850 and the United States in 1852 a Scotsman, James Young, obtained a patent for a fuel which he called Paraffin Oil. It was essentially the same product patented again in 1854 but called Kerosene. Kerosene became the means to a bright, portable and less expensive light which could be available to every home, and which would bring about a dramatic change in the habits and lives to all.

Just take a moment and reflect upon those changes in the pattern of family life as they acquired lights, thus enabling them to continue their tasks, or enjoy reading or writing and playing games after dark.

At first the availability was limited until the development of the first dug well in Ontario in 1858, and the first drilled well in Pennsylvania in 1859 which produced the quanities needed for widespread use. Among the first advertisements for coal oil was the Parson Bros.,Coal Oil and Lamp Agency in 1858    

The Cheapest and most Brillant Light ever intoduced
       ***GAS NOT EXCEPTED***

Thankfully today the oil available for these have improved to the point of being available as smokeless and some are even scented for our pleasure. Many oil lamps were designed to be a work of beauty and remain that way today, even miniatures were made and could be used. 

All of the photos included in this post are of original and converted oil lamps that we have available.  Let us help illuminate your home and share the history.

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