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When early man first learned to use and make fire, he found a way to warm his surroundings, cook his food and light the darkness. A burning branch or torch was man’s first “lamp.” The first true lamps were made of hollowed-out stone, wood, bone or shell. They used fat drippings for fuel and floating wicks of grass or moss. A 20,000 year old sandstone lamp, with hardened grease and fiber still inside, was found in a cave in France. The Eskimo or Inuit culture were the only ancient North American people to make lamps of stone or bone. (17)

Sun-dried or baked clay lamps developed in the Mediterranean area and the Near East as early as 950 B.C. (21, 22, 23, 24) Wick channels, spouts, handles, hanging devices, stands and covered reservoirs were all added improvements. Inexpensive splints of resinous pine or candlewood were held in splint holders and individual rushes soaked in tallow were held in rush light holders. Both these types of holders were brought to America by the Pilgrims. (16, 25, 1, 2)

Olive oil, vegetable, fish and whale oil were a welcome improvement over grease or lard. The soft, greasy tallow candle became hardened with the addition of stearine and stearic acid. Burning fluids made from alcohol and turpentine competed for a short time with whale oil during the 1700s. Gas made from the distillation of coal was used in the early 1800s up to the invention of the electric light. Kerosene replaced the heavier oils in the 1860s. The greatest improvements in the lamp occurred with the inventions of Miles and Argand in the late 1780s. Miles developed a non-spillable lamp with a vertical wick-tube and Argand developed an improved burner with an increased air supply that gave better combustion and a brighter light.

   Betty

   Camphene

   Candle

   Incense

   Kerosene

   Lantern

   Lighting Accessories

   Miniature Lamp

   Peg Lamp

   Rare Antique Lamps and Lanterns

   Rushlight

   Sconce

   Splint Holder

   Spout lamp

   Whale Oil

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