Identification Guides

Early Lighting Devices

The easiest way to date a lamp is to find out which type of fuel was used. Animal fats, vegetable fats, whale oil, kerosene, electricity, and other types of fuel have successfully provided light.

Photo: Skinner Photo: Green Valley
Grease, oils, mixtures of turpentine and alcohol, and other fuels lit the nineteenth-century home. A burner was added to this free-blown glass fluid lamp made in Sandwich, Massachusetts, about 1875. The burner determined what fuel was used. The Boston & Sandwich Company made many types of glass lamps. This is a fluid lamp that burned camphene or turpentine.

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