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Beginning about 1680 and continuing for over a hundred years whaling was an important industry for many towns along the New England coast. Sperm and right whales yielded great quantities of oil that made an excellent and relatively clean and odorless illuminant. A whale oil lamp is one with a whale oil burner. There are specific names for some such as peg, petticoat, sparking, chamber and lens lamps. The lamps have metal or glass fonts of different shapes and designs, some for very specific uses. The whale oil burner has one or more vertical round wick tubes, slightly tapered, extending below the burner plate with slots above the plate for adjusting the wick. The earliest lamps had a simple hole for an all metal drop burner and later a short neck for a cork burner. A threaded metal collar was needed to accommodate the Miles patented burner of 1787.





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