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Colonial and Early American Lighting

Colonial and Early American Lighting

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Colonial and Early American Lighting

5/5 (1 valutazione)
363 pagine
3 ore
May 5, 2014


Beginning with the rushlight holders used by the earliest settlers and ranging up to the elaborate chandeliers of the Federal period, this book is a unique coverage of the fascinating story of lamps and other lighting devices in America.
The selection of lighting devices from the American Colonies begins with the "Betty" lamps which were similar in function and design to the oil, wax, and fat-burning lamps of antiquity. Rounding out the material on early attempts at illumination are variations on the open wick lamp designs executed in iron, tin, pewter, and brass, together with double iron "Betty" lamps, iron trammel candle holders, wrought iron candle stands, candle molds, reflectors, and other styles. Succeeding chapters range over candelabra lamps, ship lamps, whale oil lamps, wall sconces, bull's eye reading lamps, pierced tin lanterns, candle lanterns, bull's eye reading lanterns, hall lanterns, Sandwich glass candlesticks, lamps of unusual design, glass table and spark lamps, single and double burner mantle lamps, astral lamps, Luster lamps, Bennington ware, and chandeliers made of wood, iron, pewter, brass, bronze, silver, and crystal. Although the main emphasis is on the Colonial era, work up to the 1880's is considered. Each chapter contains information on Colonial life, customs, and habits, photographs of rare lamps and their locations, hints on collecting, and much other information not available elsewhere.
This volume, containing what is probably the largest selection of antique lamps ever illustrated together before, fills a long-felt need on the part of antique collectors, designers, historians, and Americana enthusiasts for a thorough-going survey of lighting in Colonial America.
May 5, 2014

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Colonial and Early American Lighting - Arthur H. Hayward




To one who is at all interested in the subject of the development of lighting from the crude primitive lamps of early New England Pilgrim days, the study of artificial illumination from the earliest times is very essential, as furnishing not only a starting point but a fitting background from which the remarkable changes of the last three centuries stand out with great vividness.

If we pick up one of the Betty lamps, the little iron open wick lamps which the first New England pioneers brought over on the Mayflower and subsequent ships, and which, filled with rank-smelling fish oil, furnished what little light they had, aside from the blazing logs in the crude fireplaces of the log huts, during those gloomy winter days of 1620 and following years; we must hark back thousands of years, for this Plymouth lamp of 1620 A.D. is identical in design and principle with lamps found in excavating the buried cities of Greece, Rome and other once famous and populous countries of Asia, Europe and Africa — but now only a memory — some of them dating as far back as 6000 B.C. Compare the Plate 2 with Plate 4 showing a collection of lamps from Doctor Norton: the resemblance is startling, which brings us to the astounding fact that while civilization was advancing steadily and at times swiftly, and remarkable progress was being made in art, science, learning and handicraft of almost every kind, such an essential and important thing as artificial lighting remained practically at the same point for at least ten thousand years, and it is only within the last two hundred years that the tremendous advance was accomplished.

The origin of the first lamp is hidden in the dark and mysterious recesses of time at the beginning of history. For myself I can see a picture of some vigorous and powerful specimen of a cave man, returning from a successful hunt, his stone weapons in his hand and his quarry flung across his shoulders. He comes to the entrance of his cave house and flings down his burden while he seeks rest and warmth by the open fire which is carefully guarded and kept alive from the smouldering embers of the last great thunder storm when jagged bolts of lightning started a devastating forest fire. His female companion takes the slaughtered animal, crudely dresses it and props it up in front of the fire for roasting. Idly watching, the cave man sees that some of the fat from the roasting meat has dripped down on the rock and has formed a tiny pool, and into this as he looks, from one of the logs just placed on the fire, drops a tiny bit of dry moss, all ablaze. It floats about on the surface of the oily pool, sending up a spiral of smoke from its tiny flame. His attention is called away by some sounds in the forest yonder and he forgets it for the time. After a bit his eyes idly light on it again to observe that it still floats and burns with increased energy. The meat is now ready and he tears off a portion for himself and then the rest is distributed among the others of his family. When he has finished and he goes to renew the fire which has burned down to a bed of embers, he notices the floating moss still burning with a small, hot, steady flame and then and there is formed the idea of the first lamp. He goes out and picks up from the refuse heap the skull of some small animal, into which he puts some of the hot, melted fat and lighting a piece of dry moss drops it in, and the first lamp made by the hand of man has come into being.

When one considers how much of the world’s business and pleasure has been done after the sun has disappeared, it seems strange that the ingenuity of man, so abundantly exercised in other directions, should not have been turned to the subject of artificial lighting and that the absurdly inadequate and crude methods of those very ancient days should have been accepted, apparently without serious protest, almost up to the present. When, however, the change did come, it was most rapid and from the glittering, gorgeous White Way of a twentieth century metropolis back to the days of our Pilgrim forefathers seems like a journey of innumerable ages, while it is really only a span of some six or eight generations.

PLATE 2. See pages 3, 9, 10

ANCIENT POTTERY AND BRONZE LAMPS From Dr. C. A. Q. Norton’s Collection

PLATE 3. See pages 8, 92, 93

GROUP OF EARLY IRON RUSH-LIGHT HOLDERS Collection of Mr. V. M. Hillyer, Baltimore

It may be fairly assumed that, next to implements of warfare, stone and clay lamps were among the first articles for domestic use made by the hand of man. Almost all the large museums of the world have collections of lamps which have been found in excavating the sites of cities which have grown to prominence and fame, been the seat of opulence, luxury and the higher civilization of the times and have finally disappeared and been covered by the dust and debris of centuries and then quite frequently furnished the sites of yet other cities which have passed through the same cycle.

This little drawing is of an old lamp of sun-dried clay from the collection of Doctor Norton of Hartford, Connecticut. It was found many feet beneath the surface on the site of the city of Nippur, one of the oldest of the Babylonian cities, near the entrance to the King’s Library. As this city was destroyed more than six thousand years before Christ, it makes the age of this lamp at least eight thousand years. Excavations in Egypt, Asia Minor, and southern Europe, in the countries of the older civilizations, among the household utensils often yield lamps, or parts of lamps, which find their way into the

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