Kerosene Parlor Lamp

Object Name: 
Kerosene Parlor Lamp

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Object Name: 
Kerosene Parlor Lamp
Accession Number: 
89.4.19
Dimensions: 
Overall H: 109.7 cm
Location: 
On Display
Date: 
about 1865-1875
Credit Line: 
Gift of Kathryn K. Porter in memory of Helen McKearin
Web Description: 
In the mid-19th century, kerosene began to replace whale oil as a lamp fuel. Kerosene lamps required glass chimneys in order to burn properly, and this led to the birth of a new glass industry. More than 140 patents were granted for lamp chimneys and shades between 1855 and 1873. Even after the introduction of gas for home lighting, kerosene continued to be the major fuel until Edison’s invention of the incandescent electric bulb in 1879. A single kerosene lamp was usually placed on a central table in the parlor, and the family gathered around it at night to read or study. The lamp illustrated here is one of the largest surviving examples of the parlor lamp. It is made of overlay glass, consisting of a colored outer layer that is cut to reveal the colorless inner layer. The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company was a large producer of this glass.
Department: 
Provenance: 
Porter, Kathryn K., Source
1989-04-14
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., Source
1989-04-14
Category: 
Primary Description: 
Colorless, red lead glasses, brass, bronze; blown and cut. (a-k) Brass kerosene double wick burner, both wick raisers marked "EM & CO", screwed into a brass collar which is fastened to the neck opening of a turnip-shaped font of colorless glass overlaid with transparent blue (the blue cut away in four horizontal rows of circular facets above one row of oval facets); below the font is a three-bladed brass connector fastened to a brass collar which fits on top of an hour glass shaped hollow stem of colorless glass overlaid with blue (the blue cut away in circular facets in graduating sizes), which is attached to a three-step marble base with bronze separators between the steps. A metal rod runs from the bottom of the font to the base of the lamp to connect the parts. (l) Pear-shaped colorless shade with turned over rim at top, a row of cut ellipses at rim, cut flutes around neck, and a pattern of arches above flowers around widest part of body. Outer surface of shade is rough ground to reduce glare; cut design is clear.
Escort Guide to the Galleries (2013) illustrated, p. 30, top; BIB# 134015
Escort Guide to the Galleries [V4/2013] (2013) illustrated, p. 30, top; BIB# 134856
Glass: A Short History (Smithsonian Books edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 96-97; BIB# 130360
Glass: A Short History (The British Museum edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 96-97; BIB# 135965
Recent Important Acquisitions, 32 (1990) illustrated, p. 198, #24; BIB# AI74245
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 1989 (1990) illustrated, pp. 5, 16-17;