For many millennia, lighting relied on managing the combustion of fuels. The first records of fire-making appear in the Neolithic Period, about 10,000 years ago. In 1991, scientists discovered a Neolithic man, dubbed “Otzi,” who was preserved in an Alpine glacier. Otzi carried a fire-making kit on his belt: flints, pyrite for striking sparks, a dry powdery fungus for tinder, and embers of cedar that had been wrapped in leaves.
Wood was the first fuel used for lighting. Homer’s poems from nearly 3,000 years ago recount his use of resinous pine torches. Resinous pitch is very flammable and luminous when burned. It was probably used in its naturally occurring state as it oozed from coniferous trees.
In Roman times, pitch was melted and smeared on bundled sticks to make more controllable torches. Later, wood treated with pitch was burned in bowls or openwork metal buckets called cressets that made the light portable. By medieval times, processing pitch from coniferous trees was a trade governed by guilds.
Evidence of oil being burned in lamps emerged more than 4,500 years ago in Ur, an ancient city in southern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). The earliest lighting oils were made from olives and seeds. Olive cultivation had spread throughout the Mediterranean by 3,000 years ago, and olive oil became widely used for lighting. About 3,500 years ago, sesame plants were being cultivated in Babylon and Assyria, and oil from the seed was being burned. Olive and sesame oils were burned in small lamps, sometimes with a wick formed from a rush or twisted strand of linen. Lamps of stone, terra cotta, metal, shell and other materials have been found throughout the ancient world.
By the 7th century, candles of modern form existed. The earliest were dipped and not commonly molded until about 1830.
1839 candle wax recipe:
10 oz mutton tallow
¼ oz camphor
4 oz bees wax
2 oz alum
Grease lamps were used as early as 20,000 years ago in what is now Europe. Still a technique used until 1850 in U.S. Items used were stone or pottery with oil/water/moss. The first types of oil came from animal fat.
Wicks were twisted cloth, rush or wood splinter.
1700's Iron Betty Grease Lamp with hook for hanging and pick to move the wick. This lamp has a trough to hold the wick. European origin. Mid 1700s.
Betty Lamp with covered spout and forged hook for hanging. European. 1720 to 1760.
Double Crusie Grease Lamp with forged hook for hanging. Tin sconce with punched decoration. Sconce held grease lamp or candle holder. European. 1720 to 1760.
Four wick Crusie Lamp with forged loop for hanging and a pick to move wick. 1700s.
Brass Trammel. Extends from 15 inches to 24. Used to support a heavy lamp or candelabra. Trammels were also used extensivly in fireplaces to adjust the height of cooking utensils over the hot coals. Mid 1700s.
Wooden Candle Holder. 18th century.
Candle Molds and Candle Mold Filler. Early 1800s.
Brass Wall Sconce. Punch design on back. Dutch. Mid 1700s.
LARD - Lard was a product made from boiling animal fat which was readily available and inexpensive. It was used from 1850s to the mid 19th century. Burners used, were either a round center draft or a flat wick, which also extended into the font. Lamps were made of tin, pewter, and brass.
Piet Pieterszoon Hein
Brass Taper Candle Box with fine engraving of Piet Pieterszoon Hein (1577-1629.) Dutch. 1800s.
Close up of Brass Taper Candle Box.
Top view of engraved Brass Taper Box.
Spiral Candle Holder. The knob on the left traveled in the spiral groove to push the candle up. Steel with wooden base. 1740 to 1820.
Canary Yellow Dolphin Flint Vaseline Glass Candlestick made by Boston and Sandwich Co. 1840 to 1850. Small amounts of uranium oxide were blended in the glass formula to produce a pleasant yellow color.
Candlesticks made with Uranium Oxide Glass. "Dolphin" Pattern.
"Petal and Loop" Candlesticks. Flint Glass.
Dolphin Candlesticks. Burning Fluid Lamp in Center.
Uranium Oxide resulted in candlesticks turning green under black light. Burning fluid lamp in the center is a "3 Printie Block" pattern.
Girandole Candelabra with ornately cast brass frame and marble base that held glass prisms and candles. French gilt finish. 1840s to 1850s.
Clear Glass Candlestick was made in two pieces. The top was blown and the bottom was molded. They were joined with a glass wafer while hot. 1830.
Spun Pewter Candlestick with push-up. England or America.
1780 to 1820.
Cast Pewter Candlestick with a removeable bobeche. French. 1710 to 1740.
Candle Light Reflector and Brass Taper Holder.
Taper Snake Candle and Brass Taper Candle in front of candle light reflector. 1800s.
Candle Holder Taper Jack or Taper Snake. 18th century. Used on a desk to melt sealing wax or as a candle. England.
Lard PressTool dates to early 1800s.
Forged Iron Hanger for a grease lamp or candelabra.
Clambroth Glass Candlestick with Blue Socket by Boston & Sandwich Co. 1840 to 1850.
Opaque Clambroth Candlestick by Boston & Sandwich Co. 1840 to 1850.
Rockingham with Flint Enamel Candlestick made in Bennington, VT. Contains red, green and blue colors. 1849 to 1858.
Pewter Candlestick with removeable bobeche. 1800s.
Spanish or Dutch Brass Candle Holder with Drip Pan to catch melting wax. 1650 to 1690.
Queen Anne Brass Candle Holder with Petal base. English. 1760.
Gimbal Whale Oil Lamp for use on board a ship or to hang on a wall. 1820 to 1830.
GIMBAL - two rings mounted concentrically on axes (pronounced axees) at right angles to each other allow an object such as a ship's compass to remain suspended in a horizontal plane between them regardless of any motion.
Hog Scraper Dual Purpose Candle Holder. The base was used to remove hog bristles. Base was fastened to stem with bolt and nut or crimped. Many were made in England.
Float Lamp with Tall Brass Frame. Cranberry glass with layers of white and blue which are cut to the cranberry layer. 1850 to 1870.
Cranberry Float Lamp, probably Boston and Sandwich Co.
Float Lamp. Used on Christmas trees. Mid to late 19th century.
Tin Lard Lamp. Cast iron base and wide flat wick. Brass plate embossed "S.N.& H.C. Ufford, Boston; Kinniers Patent, Feb. 8, 1851.
Pewter Lard Lamp with wide burner and wooden wick picks.
Sparking Lamp, also called Courting Lamp. Single tube burner. When the fuel ran out, it was time to say good night. 1850.
Finger Lamp, applied handle. Two tube burner.
Traveling Candlesticks have removeable candle cups and bases which screw together with the cups inside. Civil War officers were issued these packable candle holders. Dates to 1750.
"Sticking Tommy" was used by miners and farmers who could stick this hand forged candle holder into a wooden beam or a seam in a mine shaft. 1800s.
Green Float Lamp often hung on Christmas trees. Had a little cork float and a small wick. The bowl was filled with water and oil and the cork floated.
Blue Float Lamp. It had water and oil.
Whale oil was used as a fuel from the late 18th century to about 1840. Made from blubber or fat by boiling. Whale oil was expensive at the time and cost about $2.50 a gallon.
Whale oil glass lamps were usually molded or partially blown and partially molded and attached by a wafer. Burners were usually one, two, or three tubes about ½ to ¾ inch above the base. The tube extended into the font and the radiating heat kept the whale oil liquefied. Some burners were drop burners surrounded by cork to hold them into the lamp with no collar. Others used a threaded collar. The whale oil industry depleted some species of whales, almost to the point of extinction.
Burning fluid was a mixture of high-proof alcohol and distilled turpentine and it burned with a bright,
smokeless flame. It was highly volatile and explosive. The burning fluid burner was made with tapered tubes entirely above the burner (1, 2, or 3 tubes).
The flame had to be extinguished by a cone. If the flame was blown out, it could internalize in the font and explode. A cone-shaped extinguisher was attached to the burner with a small chain. The lamps were made of heavy molded glass for stability.
Burners were tapered tubes that did not extend into the font. 1840s to early 1860s.
Lyre Pattern Burning Fluid Lamp molded in two pieces with a glass wafer between them. Burners have one to six tubes. 1850s.
Burning Fluid Lamp, missing the burner. Acanthus leaf pattern, has a sand finish, clambroth glass. Made by the Boston and Sandwich Co. 1850 to 1860.
Tin Hall Candle Lantern. Hexagonal shape, pressed tin decoration, frosted and painted glass panels. 1700s to early 1800s.
Pewter Lamp. 1820 to 1830.
WAFER - a blown piece of glass that connects the top and bottom of a lamp or candlestick.
Brass Whale Oil Lamp. 1820 to 1830.
Blown and Molded Whale Oil Lamp with etched design and two tubed burner.
Lace Maker or Sewing Lamp with drop burner and drip pan. Glass is blown. Used whale oil fuel. French or American. Late 1700 to 1840.
Bakers Lamp. Used to inspect the interior of a brick oven. A wooden handle was inserted into the tin handle tube. Burned whale oil. Mid 1800s.
Pewter Gimbal Whale Oil Lamp. 1820 to 1830.
Sparking or Courting Lamp. Flint Glass. Single tube burner with applied handle.
Tin Lamp (called a Petticoat Lamp.) Japanned finish. 1830.
Bottom view of Petticoat Lamp showing tin tube made to fit on a candle holder.
Brass Chamberstick with Push Up Tab to remove used candle stub. Cone extinguisher and snuffer.
Snuffers date to the mid 1600s.
Brass Candle Holder with Reflector to focus light. Used for fine needlework or writing.
Candle Holder. Spring loaded to maintain candle supply. Weighted base. 1850 to 1890.
Brass Push Up Candle Holder. Vertical is a classic English style. 1800s.
Three Dual Purpose Hog Scraper Candle Holders.
Candle Light Reflector with walnut frame. 1800.
Burning Fluid Lamp and Spill Holder in the Giant Sawtooth pattern. Lamp is made in a two piece mold with wafer between pieces to join them together. 1850s.
White Iron Stone Candlestick with pushup under base for candle stub removal. Made by Ridgeway Co. Registered July 18, 1841.
Hog Scraper or Marriage Candle Holder. Steel with brass wedding ring. Early 19th century.
All Brass Hog Scraper Candlestick. Late 18th to early 19th century.
HOG SCRAPER CANDLESTICKS
These candlesticks have a heavy base with a sharp edge which would remove bristles from a hog during the preparation of pork for food.
Forged Iron Four Arm Candelabra. 17th to early 18th century.
Mercury Glass Candlestick. Double walled, filled with silver nitrate. 1850 to 1860.
Brass Candle Holder with a drip pan to catch melting wax and a hole in the socket for removal of candle stub. Spanish or Dutch. 1650 to 1690.
Brass Candle Holder with hexagonal base. Hole in socket. 1690 to 1720.
Hammered Copper Candle Sconce. Mid 1700s.
Nursery Food Warming Whale Oil Lamp with toleware description. For use in the nursery or sick room. Made 1840 to 1850.
Food Warmer with lower opening for burner.
Container with small oil burner and two cups for warming food.
NURSERY FOOD WARMER LAMP    Nursery Lamp based on the 1812 Howe patent. This nursery lamp provides several functions for the nursery or sick room. A hinged door at the base controls the amount of light from a small two-tube whale oil lamp whose heat is used to warm food or liquids in a double boiler container formed by two nesting vessels. Small holes and a hooded vent at the top permit burning when the door is closed. A large handle in the back allows its use as a lantern when the door is opened.