M967.51.1 | Lamp

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Creative Commons License
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1875, 19th century
54.6 x 29.3 x 18.4 cm
Gift of Mrs. H. C. Roberts
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Lamp (57)
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Keys to History

This student lamp has the oil or kerosene reserve separated from the wick tube to increase the draft and thereby create a brighter flame - to benefit late-night readers. The lamp was popular in the late 1800s because it claimed to cast little to no shadow beneath the lampshade onto the reading table.

The invention of kerosene revolutionized lighting in Canada. In 1846, Abraham Gesner (1797-1864), a physician and geologist, gave the first public demonstration in Prince Edward Island of a lighting fuel he called kerosene. Obtained initially from coal and later from petroleum, kerosene was inexpensive, clean, relatively safe and could be found in abundance. It rapidly replaced whale oil as the preferred lamp fuel in Canadian homes, then was itself replaced by electric power, which by 1906, was widely dispersed to major towns and cities across the country.

  • What

    This student lamp is made of brass and has an iron rod, a clear glass chimney and white glass shade.

  • Where

    This oil lamp was made in New York by the firm C.F.A. Hindrichs.

  • When

    Stamped on the burner of this lamp are the original patent date, March 10, 1863, and the reissue date, December 30, 1873; the oil tank is stamped with the patent date December 1, 1874.

  • Who

    In the 1840s, Abraham Gesner (1797-1864), one of the pioneers of the North American oil industry, produced an oil for use in lamps. He named it kerosene.