People often ask what defines an item as an antique but the answer is neither simple nor straightforward.

Many people say an item has to be at least 100 years old to be called antique. These days though, there seems to be a growing number of people who now consider 50 years to be the cut off point.

In truth, there are many contributing factors apart from age. Things such as the type of item, the quality of the piece, the maker, its rarity and any historical significance attributed to it all have a bearing.

Prior to the development of kerosene lighting, candles, whale oil and burning fluid (a volatile and dangerous mix of turpentine and alcohol) were the primary sources of lighting.

The introduction of kerosene offered a superior, efficient, cost effective lighting source which was also much safer to use.

Along with the new fuel came new designs of lamps. The adaptation of existing whale oil lamps was not very successful and they were soon replaced with specifically designed lamps, burners and chimneys.

In North America, this period also saw many companies flourish as they offered the public a wide range of lamps in many styles, sizes and designs.