Antique Kerosene Lamp
Information On Antique Kerosene Lamps & Lanterns
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Antique Kerosene Lamp

Kerosene lamps are one of the few items used centuries ago that are still in widespread use today. In parts of the world where electricity is scarce, these lighting systems are of utilitarian design and cheaply made.

There was a time when this form of lighting was the only kind available in the now-developed countries and in those days, these lamps adorned rich and poor homes alike. Some were quite ornate and made to be decorative and others were plain but they were all usually made to last with good workmanship, using materials like glass, brass and iron. The antique kerosene lamp is now sought after as a desirable collectible and can still be found in online auctions, antique shops, flea markets and garage sales. Reproductions are also available from some companies and these can be a practical way to go if you don't find the true antique you are looking for or would like a functional piece you would like to use regularly.

The first mention of kerosene lamps was in relation to 9th century Baghdad which is in modern-day Iraq. The more modern lamp as we know it was created in Poland in 1853. A kerosene lamp uses kerosene oil or paraffin oil (and is called the paraffin lamp in England for this reason) and it comes mainly in two types: wick kerosene lamp or pressure kerosene lamp. The wick lamp produces a cozy, warm glow that is very comforting as it envelopes you in the relative darkness of your surroundings--a unique feeling in today's brightly lit spaces. It is also noiseless as compared to the pressure lamp which produces the sound of air being forced into the burner.

The wick kerosene lamp is the simpler of the two and works like a candle. It has a small fuel tank and a lamp burner on top with a wick which feeds off the fuel. When the wick is set alight, the kerosene that is absorbed in it burns to produce a clear, bright flame and as the wick burns, capillary action draws more kerosene up from the tank. The flame is protected by a glass chimney which prevents it from being blown out and which also has a constriction near the top to create a draft that aids burning by providing more oxygen to the flame. The size of the flame is usually controlled with a knob that turns a sprocket-like toothed wheel which pulls more wick up into the burner to enlarge the flame or pushes it down to reduce the flame.

The pressure kerosene lamp is the more sophisticated type and produces a much brighter light. To use it, one has to work a pump that forces air into the tank. This forces the kerosene to come out of the burner in vaporized form which burns much hotter than liquid kerosene. The burning, vaporized kerosene is directed through a burner and directly into a mantle, a fabric bag coated with chemicals which glow brightly when heated enough by the burning kerosene. This type of lamp is popular with campers but it has always been the more difficult type to handle and is more dangerous to use. It has been replaced by gas-fueled lamps nowadays.

Antique kerosene lamps can add a unique and attractive touch to your home while possibly also being a back-up source of lighting if you ever have power down. There are a myriad types and styles available to choose from and range from incomplete pieces that can you can restore to near-mint examples.

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