Antique Oil Lamps

If you are a lamp or antique collector, you will do well to add an antique oil lamp to your collection. These lamps have a charming aesthetic, and they can be worth a lot of money. But how can you tell if your oil lamp is authentic? This article will provide a few tips and tricks.

Oil Lamps and Kerosene Lamps: Is There a Difference?

The terms kerosene lamps and oil lamps can be used interchangeably among collectors. So is there any difference? Not really.

Oil is simply a cleaner burning fuel than kerosene. Other than that, the lamps tend to have the same features which include:

  • Reservoir or Bowl: The reservoir or bowl is used to hold the fuel.
  • Burner: The burner is located above the reservoir and has an adjustable wick that goes down into the bowl to absorb the fuel.
  • Chimney: This is a glass protector for the lamp’s flame.

How Can You Tell if an Oil Lamp is an Antique?

Oil lamps have a terrific vintage style. Many manufacturers have reproduced them over the years. So how can you tell if your lamp is an antique? Here are some identifying marks to look for.

Look for Glue: Newer oil lamps are held together with glue while older ones have parts that are fused together. A blacklight will cause glue to fluoresce so if you hold one up to your lamp you will be able to see if it’s glued or not.

Check the Hardware: The hardware will also let you know whether your lamp is authentic or not. Look to see if the bolts are threaded for their entire length or only for the portion necessary for attaching them to the lamp. Bolts are typically entirely threaded on newer lamps.

Look for Plaster: New lamps use glue to attach hardware while older lamps use plaster. Examine the joints to see if plaster or glue is used to fill the spaces between the lamp body and the hardware.

Other Antique Lamp Identification Factors

Here are some other factors that will tell you if your lamp is authentic or not.

  • Lamp Styles: Antique lamps come in a variety of styles. They can hang, they can have handles, they can be shaded or not. The style will help you determine the lamp manufacturer and time it was manufactured.
  • Burner Types: Burner types include prong, coronet, argand, central draft, whale oil and burning fluid. The burner will tell you what type of fuel your lamp uses, and it will give you a hint on how old your lamp is.
  • Maker’s Marks: Maker’s marks are typically found on the button that allows you to wind the wick. Notable makers include Aladdin, Beacon Light, Erich & Graetz and Rochester Lamp Company.

Oil lamps can be worth a considerable amount of money. Now that you know what to look for, you can determine which should be added to your collection. Which of your lamps are you most proud of?
If you have questions please give us a call at (773) 866-0220 or visit our website for consultation.