Antique Oil Lamps
Each of our antique oil lamps is lovingly and carefully restored before being passed to a new home.
We ship internationally and take great pride in the way in which we package our lamps to ensure safe delivery.
We have grouped our antique oil lamps into general categories. Simply click on the title to see lamps from within that category.
As the name suggests, banquet oil lamps are generally quite grand, both in size and style.
The tall stands mean that the light source is elevated well above the surface upon which the lamp is sitting. As a result, it illuminates a wide area.
The majority of the banquet kerosene lamps produced in North America utilised removable slip fonts. This allowed great flexibility in the choice of materials, form and design and resulted in a widely diverse range being produced.
From the traditional English and European styles to multi-sectioned glass banquet lamps and the more rustic wrought iron range, all tastes were catered for.
Glass oil lamps enjoyed continuous popularity throughout the kerosene lighting era. From the 1850s through into the 1900s, they were made by many glass companies and in many sizes and designs. It has been estimated that up to 3,000 different designs were made but many of these had a limited production run. Even taking this into consideration, it would be fairly safe to say that at least 1,000 different patterned glass kerosene lamps were produced in significant numbers during this period.
They were manufactured in many different sizes. From miniatures to finger lamps, small and large hand lamps, massive sewing lamps and even banquet lamps.
Predominantly, they were made in clear glass. Amber, blue, cranberry and emerald green glass were also popular but produced in fewer numbers. Other types of glass such as opalescent, opaque and carnival were also used to make oil lamps but again, in far fewer numbers than the clear glass.
Composite oil lamps were popular between the 1880s and the early 1900s. They came in a wide variety of “mix and match” bases, stems and fonts. As a result, a huge number of combinations were made.
Some bases are slate or soapstone but commonly they are cast iron and come in a variety of mouldings. Most fonts are clear glass, though coloured glass is also seen. Again, there are many different designs available. The greatest diversity of materials and form is exhibited in the stems. They are made from redware (pottery), reverse painted glass, hand painted milk glass and metals ranging from cast spelter to tin.
The pictured antique oil lamps (from left to right) show a milk glass stem with an amber glass font; a reverse painted stem with a clear glass font; a hand painted milk glass stem with a clear glass font and finally a redware stem with a roughened (frosted) glass font.
Popular during the 1860s – 1880s, figural stem oil lamps were produced in a range of sizes up to banquet lamp size. Most commonly, they depict classical and historical figures but animals and more whimsical and occasionally risque forms are also found.
Generally the figures are cast spelter or occasionally cast iron. The original finishes would have been bronze, gilt or black. The bases are predominately soapstone or cast iron though occasionally marble bases were used.
A characteristic of the earlier fonts used with figural oil lamps is the extended shoulder style collars which cover much of the top of the font. These early fonts also tended to have simple patterns which were then roughened on a lathe to produce a frosted effect on the high points.
Lamps of this style were used extensively as props in the movie “Gone with the Wind” but this is not historically correct. The movie was set during the Civil War but production of these lamps did not start until at least a decade later. However, the term is so widely used these days that it has become an accepted description.
Gone with the Wind (GWTW) lamps have matching glass shades and bases and generally also have matching hand painted motifs on both. Most commonly, the shades on these kerosene lamps are globes but dome or half shades are also found.
The base section of some lamps is the actual oil font but the majority of these antique oil lamps have a removable “slip” font. They are usually brass and sit inside the glass “vase” base. In practical terms, this made it much easier to fill the lamp, maintain the burner and reduced the likelihood of damage and breakage. Aesthetically though, it introduced an entirely new element in design and decor.
This category of antique oil lamps covers many of the metal lamps and some glass ones as well.
As the name would suggest, they were designed to sit on the table to brightly illuminate the immediate work area. At the same time they did quite a good job of lighting the surrounding area too, especially if the shade was removed.
The metal table kerosene lamps had the added advantage of strength and durability making them a popular choice for many.
Hanging kerosene lamps came in many sizes and shapes and were used in different situations according to their form.
“Mammoth” or “Store” lamps with “Chinaman’s hat” tin shades or plain opal glass dome shades were used in shops, churches and saloons. The large font holds a gallon of kerosene which will burn for 12 hours at 300 Candle power.
Domestic centre draft lighting was around 60 Candle power and just as efficient though more decorative. With ornate brass work, hand painted shades and fonts and dangling prisms to catch and reflect the light, they made a very impressive display.
Lamps such as the one pictured would have graced many fine parlors whilst flat wick hanging oil lamps were used in hallways, kitchens and the like.
There is an extensive range of “Aladdin” oil lamps available. They range from the earliest metal lamps to glass ones and those that are unique to the country of manufacture.
Since 1908 when the first mantle lamps were introduced in North America, “Aladdin” (in the company’s various guises) have produced more than 15 different models of metal table lamps worldwide. In addition, hanging, wall bracket and floor lamps were also available in most models.
Starting in 1932 “Aladdin” also produced over 20 models of glass lamps with at least three colour options for most. The Corinthian (1935-1936) was offered in fifteen different colour combinations. Production of “Aladdin” glass mantle lamps continued into this century.
“Aladdin” operated manufacturing plants in England, Australia, Brazil and Hong Kong with most plants producing lamps that were unique to that country.
There are many more styles of antique oil lamps that can’t be readily placed in the categories above. They range from small medicinal lamps designed to help alleviate the symptoms of illnesses such whooping cough, through to large double burner student lamps.
There is also a vast array of railway, carriage and ships lamps to be found.
Another group of lamps that has become very collectable is pressure lamps. Coleman, Tilley and Primus being well known makers. Not all brands used kerosene for fuel – some used petrol instead.
Allied to this group are the kerosene stoves and heaters. Some were pressurised but many were not. On the whole they worked efficiently and were cost effective to run.